MH: Defining Health

What Does “Health” Really Mean?

When you think about your health, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many, the answer is weight or "body size." While weight is one measure of your overall health, it is not the only one. So, what are the other ways to measure health?

Screening Tests

These are simple tests that check for common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These tests are part of routine health screening for adults and include the following:

  • Blood pressure

  • Fasting glucose (your blood sugar level when you have not eaten for several hours)

  • Hemoglobin A1C (your average blood sugar over three months)

  • Cholesterol and triglyceride levels

    • The most common tests are total cholesterol, HDL (“good” cholesterol), LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides.

Eating Habits and Nutritional Status

Your eating habits directly influence your health. Your energy levels, brain function, sleep quality, skin health, exercise and sports performance, etc. are maintained (and improved) when you eat enough.

Make sure to include healthy foods in your diet, like lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruit. This also helps to prevent nutritional deficiencies (i.e. low levels of vitamins and minerals). Ask your coach about healthy eating.

Mental Health

Your mental health impacts your physical health and vice versa. Some ways to improve your mental health include:

Stress Reduction. For example, setting boundaries between work and personal time. There are many other ways to reduce stress in your life. Contact your coach for more support.

Mindfulness practices. For example, practicing meditation. Your Goodpath app has a variety of mindfulness activities available to you. Your coach can help you select some of them.

Movement/exercise. For example, walking, gardening, yoga, dancing, etc. Try to choose an activity each day.

Breathing exercises. For example, practicing deep breathing. Your Goodpath app has a variety of breathing exercises available to you. Contact your coach to learn more.

Journaling/writing. For example, taking some time to write down your thoughts or using Goodpath's Everyday Gratitude solution.

Staying connected. Maintaining positive relationships has a meaningful impact on your physical and mental health. Connecting with others and having a supportive community of family/friends can actually make you healthier.

Body image and mental health: what’s the connection?

What is body image?

Body image describes both your attitude about and perception of your body. Your body image can change over time. It is influenced by both internal (within you) and external (outside of you) factors:

Internal factors. For example, how you feel when you move your body or how you feel when you wear a particular piece of clothing

External factors. For example, seeing only one type of body on TV, in magazines, or on social media or hearing unwanted advice about how your body should look from friends or family members

Why is body image important?

Many people are not satisfied with their bodies and want to change them. Addressing the topic of body image can be very helpful. The more you are aware of your own body image, the more you can challenge any unhelpful thoughts you may have about your body.

Your body image is closely connected to your overall health. When you struggle with your body image, it can have a negative effect on both your physical and mental health.

Body image and behaviors

Two of the most common behaviors are body checking and body avoidance.

Body checking

Body checking is when you constantly look at and judge your body. For example, you may spend a lot of time looking at yourself in the mirror, finding what you see as "flaws." Or, you may compare yourself to others or spend a lot of time thinking about how your body can "improve."

Body avoidance

Body avoidance means hiding your body from yourself and others. For example, you may wear big, baggy clothes; completely avoid mirrors; or stay away from places, like the beach and wearing a swimsuit.

Both body checking and body avoidance are harmful to your physical and mental health. These behaviors can leave you “stuck” in negative and unhelpful thought loops. For example, the false belief that how you look is the most important thing about you. 

These behaviors also tend to keep you focused on your body image concerns. This leaves you less time and mental energy to focus on other aspects of your life, including the non-physical aspects of your health and well-being reviewed above.

Health is so much more than just your physical body. Eating nutritious foods, visiting your doctor regularly, taking care of your mental health, and prioritizing personal relationships are all important to your health.

Contact your coach with questions or for more support.