The YOLO Approach to Health

YOLO...It's a term I started saying in gest, mocking my younger Justin-Bieber-loving prototypes, which embarrassingly has become one of the phrases which rolls off my tongue on a regular basis, along with 'awkies', 'for realsises', 'totes McGoats' and 'fully sick brah'.

Cool story Hansel, but what has YOLO got to do with a health philosophy?

Well, in one of my many daily ponderings about life, health, happiness and whether double demin is ever okay, I had a serious question hit me. Why be healthy, or care about our health, fitness, nutrition and lifestyle choices. I mean, I think I get it, but there are many who will argue that the people who are overly cautious about there health are boring wowsers who need to spill red white of their white shirts more often. But then the answer became more clear to me,  (the answer which was obviously placed there by 15 years old Harriet). We should look after our health because YOLO.

Yup. I am pretty embarrassed that I even came up with this and am now writing it in a public forum, but hear me out.

We only live once, and despite the term being horrendously bastardised by  the Tween marketing team, the concept is still a profound one, and how it relates to our health, equally so.  Our health, or absence of it, is what dictates how well we experience this life of ours.

Look, we can probably get by springing up the middle finger to those touting health messages to a point- after all,  life is to be enjoyed. But how about when we are a little bit older, and feeling the effects of a life lived in the proverbial fast lane. Perhaps it is a diagnosis, a busted knee in social netball, a friend who has found themselves in poor health at a relatively young age. Life is unpredictable at best, and the major thing we can have control of is out health. But the problem is we usually don' know how good we have it until the cracks start to show.

This is not to say we need to get our OCD on and adopt strict healthy living . Health isn't just what you put in your mouth and how many times you hit the gym each week. Health is t he sum of lots of choices you make to keep you body AND mind in check, which makes is mightily multifaceted. For me, to really look after your health is to look at the following domains, and work toward finding your best balance at any given life stage:

  • Nutrition- eating for energy, feeling good in your skin, performance and long term health risk reduction
  • Movement- Exercise by all means, but for Pete's sake, MOVE, because it feels good and it's what we are designed to do. Run, jump, kick, throw, wiggle, twerk, splash, paddle. Whatever your move is, do it and do it daily.
  • Headspace- Most people will experience some sort of stress, anxiety and depression in their lifetime. Life ahs a great way of throwing curve balls which can make or break us. But looking after your mental health is equally important to nutrition and movement. They are all linked and being aware of what your personal signs of 'crazy' are, and having a plan to act when they appear means we can function at a higher and happier level more often. Supply own oxygen first, then you can better help others.
  • Relationships- We are social creatures by natures. Everyone has a different definition of social, but it seems that loneliness is one of our greatest human fears. Nurturing our real relationships, and limiting the types which do not serve us in a positive and supportive manner, goes a long way to fuelling good health and happiness.
  • Work- having a purpose for getting up in the morning, getting satisfaction that you are working towards a greater good are also important to our overall health. Your work day to day doesn't have to be your number one passion, passions can be weekend hobbies, but allowing ourselves to follow our lines of curiosity and letting that inform our work appears to be t he way to get the best from ourselves.

The concept of health is by nature an obscure one. To be healthy is to giving ourselves the best chance at enjoying our one life to the fullest. However, if our 'healthful' actions start to impede on our enjoyment of life, are they healthy? I am not championing a hedonistic approach to health, where we throw caution to the wind and eat all of the cronuts. This  approach does get adopted by some, and in my experience it can be quite a self-destructive approach fuelled by an underlying or unknown self-consciousness.  However, by showing a *ahem* healthy dose respect for the fact that we hold a lot of power in how well we age, then there is a lot we can do to amplify our health. The small things done regularly like eating your vegetables, drinking water, sleeping enough, moving your body and socialising with people who like you and that you like, means we can take this life by the horns, and ride it like the frightening yet enjoyable  mechanical bull that it is.

So there, the  YOLO approach to health. It's a positive and constructive way of framing health decisions. Is the health inducing action mall enough that you probably wont notice after a while and can continue without ruining your social life, then ' tick'- keep it up. or,  is the health practice so restrictive that you balk at going out with friend and instead spend Friday night counting every calorie from your meal and entering the data into a fancy excel spread sheet while doing calf raises at a stand up desk...hmmm, I like science, but not that much. It's taking the actions that take the least effort and have then biggest impact and doing more of them, while losing the actions which take huge amounts of energy, are not all that sustainable and make you a bit neurotic and painful to be around, so you can live a solid life.

LMFAO, BRB, FML, OTT, WFT and then there's YOLO... it really  the most infuriatingly flippant yet truer than true answer to the 'why bother' question on being fit and healthy.