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  1. #1
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    Default SPINOFF - What does it mean to be healthy?

    With the no-wheat on one side and the vegans on one side, and everybody else somewhere in-between, what does really it mean to be "healthy"?

    What is a true indicator of health? Cholesterol levels? How far you can run/walk? The number of days per week that you work out and/or ride? The number of calories you consume?

    I'm in the middle years, heavier than I was when I was in my 20s but still a size 10. If I use my blood pressure and pulse rate, I'm A-OK. It was 118/70 and 69 bpm three weeks ago at the endocrinologist. My cholesterol was within normal limits. My A1C was also within normal limits after having indicated pre-diabetes last year.

    However, my body fat and BMI say I am obese.

    My fitness level is probably considered average+. I can power walk 3-4 miles most days of the week, muck 15 stalls by myself on Saturdays, move hay bales with no problem, work in my vegetable garden, and still have some energy left over to keep up with my teenagers.

    What say you, COTHers? What's considered "healthy"?
    Alis volat propriis.



  2. #2
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    This is a great question!

    I've wondered the same thing with regards to the specific patient population I work with. Those who are unfamiliar with these peculiarities are flabbergasted by CF doctor's mandates, which go something like this: Maximize calories! Add peanut butter to everything, and sneak in extra butter! Ice cream shakes every night!! Plus high-impact exercise! This is healthy for that group of patients.

    That's an extreme example, of course.

    Healthy to me means that I can currently physically do all of the things that I want to do to enjoy my life. What I like about that definition is its plasticity. Some people want to be able to physically do Iron Wo/Man competitions. I want to be able to run and play when the mood strikes me, walk as much as I enjoy walking (a lot!), do my barn chores, etc. It would be great to be able to play at the beach, too, but that's more a matter of um thigh conformation than actual health. Maybe my goals will change, and I'll want to be able to do something else. Then my definition of healthy might change.

    For some people, there is an emotional, moral component to that feeling of healthfulness and well-being. To feel healthy, they want to be free of the guilty feelings that come with being responsible for the death of animals, or the exploitation of migrant workers. This is also very personal.

    What gets ME is in foresight: as I am right now, are my habits conducive to continuing to be able to call myself healthy?
    Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.


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  3. #3
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    I think that BMI isn't the best indicator according to what I have read recently. Now they are using a calculation of waist measurement, since research has revealed that people with large waists are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a host of ailments.

    If memory serves, you take your waist measurement in inches and double it. If that is not less than your height measurement, then you are likely to have problems in future with diabetes & heart disease among other things.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  4. #4
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    I've been at every extreme on this spectrum. For me, healthy means you give your body what it needs to do what you want it to do, keep your physical stats within certain medically-established guidelines (blood pressure and the like), but also live in balance and moderation without becoming consumed by what you are consuming. I think every body is different, and what we all expect our bodies to do differs as well. What's healthy for me wouldn't be healthy for a sedentary 85 year old, nor would it be healthy for a marathon runner. I also think every mind is different, and people have different points at which focusing on their physical health turns into destroying their mental health. So it comes down to balance...which is really effing annoying, because IMO, there's nothing in the world harder to do than be moderate!!

    I think what meupatdoes said about eating well but not having an existential crisis over a kiwi rings the most true to me.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    I think that BMI isn't the best indicator according to what I have read recently. Now they are using a calculation of waist measurement, since research has revealed that people with large waists are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a host of ailments.

    If memory serves, you take your waist measurement in inches and double it. If that is not less than your height measurement, then you are likely to have problems in future with diabetes & heart disease among other things.
    This.

    And I will add:

    I'm no expert, but I do think that, since diet advice changes from decade to decade (sometimes year to year), and one decade's "perfect food" becomes a later decade's food to avoid at all costs, that there are no hard and fast rules to say "you are healthy" or not.

    I would say that if you feel healthy, and are active, and sleep well, and if what goes in comes out in a timely manner, that you are healthy. But then medics will say you can feel fine and have high blood pressure. You can feel great and go run a mile and drop dead of a heart attack the next day just walking across the street.

    My mother used to say if you don't have a fever and you're not throwing up you're well enough to go to the school.

    I do believe that worrying and obsessing can compromise your health.
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique



  6. #6
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    Adding to that, you may be healthy while still being handicapped/limited by health issues, as many are.

    Healthy is not numbers on a chart, although those can be guidelines.


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  7. #7
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    Regarding waist circumference, greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men is an indicator of increased risk of disease.

    See http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/publ...se_wt/risk.htm .

    I'm good with the waist measurement, borderline with BMI, but I have no other health factors that they list.
    Alis volat propriis.



  8. #8
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    I think there's a difference between being fit and being healthy. You can be healthy without being able to run 10 miles, and you can be fit without necessarily being healthy about it.

    Being healthy to me means feeling content and feeling balanced, being good to yourself and to your body, eating well and being at least moderately active, without any physical concerns (like smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin levels, too much excess weight, etc).



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluemooncowgirl View Post
    Regarding waist circumference, greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men is an indicator of increased risk of disease.

    See http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/publ...se_wt/risk.htm .

    I'm good with the waist measurement, borderline with BMI, but I have no other health factors that they list.
    Yes, that is really the drop dead number (so to speak) regardless of height. But if your waist measurement doubled is less than your height, that is supposedly a fairly accurate predictor of a long healthy life.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245328.php
    Last edited by Eclectic Horseman; May. 29, 2013 at 03:27 PM.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  10. #10
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    Being healthy is the absence of disease- and many diseases are asymptomatic until they become quite advanced, so just because you feel great doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy. We can use a variety of measures like BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, etc. to attempt to identify warning signs of asymptomatic disease.
    In general, though, it's best not to worry too much about it. Stress isn't healthy.


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  11. #11
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    For me, it absolutely includes a basic level of fitness. I certainly don't run marathons, but I would not have to stop a cardiac stress test due to muscle exertion or shortness of breath - being unable to sustain an activity at 10 MET's for 10 min is to me unfit (provided the person is able to attempt the activity, meaning the inability to reach/sustain 10 MET's is due to lack of cardiovascular fitness).

    Medically, control of any known risk factors that can be controlled - so remaining at a healthy body fat percentage, good lipid profile, blood sugars good, etc etc - things that aren't medical problems as such and may not be for years, but that are known risk factors for certain diseases.

    Ideally "healthy" would be free of illness, but I do think that such a definition is also overly strict. I mean, someone with hypertension that's well-controlled, or on thyroid medication, etc - they have a diagnosis, but can be perfectly healthy. So I'd go with good symptom control where it's not interfering with life activities.

    To me a healthy diet is eating mostly whole foods, limiting processed food, and eating an amount sufficient for the activity level of the person (not undereating, not overeating). I don't cut out any food groups, and I indulge in some processed foods on occasion, and I overeat on occasion, and I think that's perfectly fine - as long as I maintain the underlying healthy diet 80% of the time, I call it good



  12. #12
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    What being healthy means to me is that most days nothing hurts, I have enough energy for what I want to do. No infectious diseases except a very occasional common cold. Normally functioning female apparatus that does about what its supposed to be doing at the time it's supposed to be doing it. No symptoms I can discern of anything ominous. And when some minor ailment results in a rare visit to the walk-in, my BP is normal. No routine medications whatsoever.

    I have worked long and hard to educate myself in what takes to keep that state above on an even keel. For me, not necessarily for everybody. But I believe that "health" is the absence of symptomatic disease, not the lack of normal aging or some exalted state of perpetual "Wellness" where you never have a bad back or a bad mood. I accept the human condition as it comes, and I don't go on fishing missions trying to find disease. I have no intention of ever treating ANY "risk factors."



  13. #13
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    It is funny, because I was talking to my dad a couple months ago about life in general and he said, "I'm healthy" blah blah blah as part of our conversation. I was actually taken aback by his comment because he is so in denial - he has congestive heart failure, type II diabetes, gout, and all other sorts of problems. When I mentioned this to my mom, she said "well he's healthy as long as he takes his medicine." WTF, people!!!!???? If you have to take medicine for all your diseases, then you're not healthy! :bangsheadagainstwall:

    I do consider myself to be healthy. I eat well, but enjoy various treats in moderation (alcohol, sweets), lead a very active lifestyle (ballet 3x week, teach yoga 2x week, ride 5x week, do all my farm chores, etc), have good numbers (scale, BMI, BP, HR), am disease-free, and am lucky enough not to have too much stress in my life.

    Having said that, though, I don't take my health for granted and am thankful for it everyday!
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran



  14. #14
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    For my own self...and I've suffered from digestive problems for years due to untreated Celiac Disease..healthy is where I am now...truly I've never felt as good as I do at this point in my life. Now, eating a mainly grain free/light dairy diet...loosely Paleo...absolutely NO gluten unless I screw up like when eating out...I have 1.normal bowel function for the first time in my memory...that used to be a rare treat and now it's a daily thing unless I get into some hidden gluten. 2. I sleep very well and have good energy and endurance 3. I'm physically active..a farrier, farmer, backpacker (long distance), and garden. 4. I'm 50 and I fit into the clothes size I was at 22. 5. I have normal BP, normal cholesterol and take no meds except BC pills (still not through the change) and vitamins as I have some absorption issues. 6. I am a size 6, 5'4" and about 122 lbs. 7. People tell me I look a decade younger than I am. :-)

    My only complaints are that I'm getting creaky...knees, back hurts especially after a lot of farrier work...and I have to hike a bit slower than I used to..but otherwise, I've never been in better health. My only regret is that the Celiac was not diagnosed sooner so I might have avoided the permanent damage that I'll now keep for the rest of my life..but I can manage well enough. I'm am truly grateful to have finally found something that works for me and blessed to have never developed any major permanent related issues like RA, Lupus or Fibro which often goes along with Celiac. I don't consider Celiac Disease to be a sign that I'm not healthy...just that I can't digest wheat, barley or rye...which I don't miss at all anyway nor do I consider necessary for a good diet.


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  15. #15
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    I consider myself 'healthy' despite some chronic problems.

    I take a lot of meds but they are to keep me at an optimum diabetic protection levels...all lower than for non-diabetics.

    I rarely get sick, can't remember my last cold, flu or headache.

    It's always been kind of strange that someone so 'sick' could be so 'healthy'.

    I go the doctor's twice a year for diabetic check ups...and only because they are required by my health insurance. If not for that, I'd go in for the blood work, email me the results and if something is out of whack, I could come in. Mostly we go over my labs...numbers are always pretty good...and then we talk about horses and riding. Cool doctor!

    P.S. to Pocket Pony. Yes I take a lot of meds; as prevention of complications. It's all about perspective. I remember the time I was feeling sorry for myself because I couldn't eat the birthday cake at work. A Freshman (university) go off the elevator; a quadriplegic by himself, manipulating his special chair with puffs of breath, going into the undergrad finaid office. I bet he would give anything to get up out of that chair if all he had to do was eat right. I consider myself healthy, optimistic and blessed.
    Ride like you mean it.



  16. #16
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    Mine too! If she couldn't see it or measure it, you weren't sick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wellspotted View Post
    This.

    My mother used to say if you don't have a fever and you're not throwing up you're well enough to go to the school.
    Ride like you mean it.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezduzit View Post
    Mine too! If she couldn't see it or measure it, you weren't sick.
    Yep! And if it goes in one end and out the other, too--especially if you're over 80 or a horse!


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluemooncowgirl View Post
    With the no-wheat on one side and the vegans on one side, and everybody else somewhere in-between, what does really it mean to be "healthy"?

    What is a true indicator of health? Cholesterol levels? How far you can run/walk? The number of days per week that you work out and/or ride? The number of calories you consume?

    I'm in the middle years, heavier than I was when I was in my 20s but still a size 10. If I use my blood pressure and pulse rate, I'm A-OK. It was 118/70 and 69 bpm three weeks ago at the endocrinologist. My cholesterol was within normal limits. My A1C was also within normal limits after having indicated pre-diabetes last year.

    However, my body fat and BMI say I am obese.

    My fitness level is probably considered average+. I can power walk 3-4 miles most days of the week, muck 15 stalls by myself on Saturdays, move hay bales with no problem, work in my vegetable garden, and still have some energy left over to keep up with my teenagers.

    What say you, COTHers? What's considered "healthy"?
    Healthy - absence of disease or management of disease. However, "healthy" is a snapshot in time. If you have "indicators" or are "prone" to a disease, then "healthy" includes how you are at the moment and, in my opinion, how you are averting potential disease in the future. ETA: Dietary considerations are extremely individual. What works for one person does not necessarily work for the next.
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation



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