Health; “A state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This is how the world health organization (WHO) has defined HEALTH in a preamble to the constitution of the WHO in 1946. I don’t think the WHO knew the weight that this definition would carry one day. Because today, right now, it definitely carries so much weight, in my opinion, more than it probably ever has.
This era of COVID-19 has forced us to understand health in all its dimensions, but not just that, it has forced us to learn how to look after ourselves whole-roundedly. We now more familiarly term this whole-rounded health in today’s generation WELLNESS.
I admire how the National Wellness Institute defines it in a way that gives such a fresh yet vital
perspective; “Wellness is a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential.”
I absolutely love that. It also reminds me of my very own personal journey of how I came to love, appreciate and become so privileged, if I may say so myself, to become a wellness enthusiast. I value that now more than I ever have.
By changing one habit, I propagated many other wellness habits that have changed the trajectory of not just my state of well-being, but have transformed my life FOREVER. Yes, FOREVER. Why do I say that?
Take it from the Harvard Medical School in an observational Harvard-led study published online in January 2020 by the BMJ. “Researchers evaluated more than 30 years’ worth of health data from 111 000 people who were free of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease at age 50. Compared with those who didn’t follow any healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed four or five healthy habits had an additional decade of disease-free living.”
Did you read that correctly? A whole decade! Do any of those diseases sound like the common underlying comorbidities that contribute to a high risk of severe illness by COVID-19?
To reduce the number of comorbidities South Africans suffer from, I have started a new movement to overcome South African health issues and enable citizens to be less receptive to the side effects of COVID-19. It is called Movement Overcome:
My very first form of writing to attest to some of the above-mentioned sentiments and facts, was through my first blog post on FoodFAITHFavourites inspired by my very own personal exercise and weight loss story. For me, this is the only and possibly the perfect way I can tell and be a living testimony to this.
Years ago even before I was a teenager, way before I even knew where the direction for my life would lead, I struggled with obesity and as much as it didn’t impact me so much health-wise then, it definitely did psychologically. This proves more and more that physical and mental health are inextricably linked. I think back now and although I was far from being a depressed child I did have a rather low inner self-esteem and still have an element of anxiety from the time. But since the weight loss, since the change from the INSIDE-OUT, I have boomed, become confident, optimistic and have evolved to become more than I could ever have imagined! Not on my own, but definitely through “Him who is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
It all started with a nonchalant 20 minutes a day of walking, which progressed to jogging, and today I can go on and on running. Although not a real long distance runner, I can safely and gladly say that I am an absolute lover of all things running and exercise. There are so many more positive changes but if I can just mention five things that stick out in terms of how my life changed with just exercise:
- I lost weight
- I begun to have motivation or reason to get up EVERY.SINGLE.DAY
- My mood and attitude were suddenly elevated
- I became more aware and cognizant of what I ate.
- My asthma improved dramatically
To this day I think the most important changes for me have been the almost curative effect on my asthma due to the weight loss, and secondly just the boost of energy, confidence and paradigm shift that subsequently followed it. I do think, however. that what has led to the point where I am today is because my journey to wellness has been synonymous to the way the Nutrition Wellness Institute terms it:
We are living in a world that has taught us not how to pursue preventative health, but rather to
cope with the lifestyle ailments and/or diseases we may have. The minute I realized the incredible benefits of exercise, it moved from being a nonchalant activity to a very conscious decision to get up and exercise at least four times a week. And today that is what carries me, the conscious decision to keep improving my health to avoid more things now like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, depression, fatigue.
In the sentiments of the revised definition of health by the WHO, we should be pursuing health rather with the perspective of it being “a resource for everyday life”, not an end goal or something to strive towards.
My wellness journey has since been a personal journey of learning, growing, and staying updated with what now is probably an area of greatest interest to me. Not only does my body teach me a lot about how it responds to exercise and certain foods, but I also learn more and more about how to better take care of it not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
If there’s anything that is dynamic and evolving, it is the body and weight! Our wellness and health is really an everyday choice and not merely about goals we should be trying to reach because so many factors come into play that force us to adapt, adjust, fall off, try again, learn something new. It’s an ever-changing process that requires us to be patient and evolve with it as our bodies and minds evolve.
Wellness also requires us to resolve to keep pursuing it despite the odds and not wait until we are forced to medicate to try and find it again. The strange thing about a healthy lifestyle is that we all know more or less what it entails and what we need to do to achieve or pursue it. The first battle to win is in the mind. Simply put:
- Don’t smoke
- Limit alcohol intake
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day
With all of that said, life is for the enjoyment of all the little things, because that is also part of wellness. As I resolve to pursue my wellness like it’s a matter of life and death, that IT IS, my hope is to encourage others and hopefully nations to find joy in pursuing their health like it’s a matter of life and death too. Before another virus reaches us.
The founder of Quintessential ZA, Quintus Potgieter, sat down with me for a chat about my role as a frontline worker back in May: