Measuring the building blocks of health

As with just about anything I have learned regarding contentment, part of the mental trick of living a contented life is being able to enjoy the benefits of the future in the present. This is not always easy to do. But making steady progress towards my goals and celebrating that progress is, by far, the most satisfying way to develop contentment.

Yesterday, I talked about the Ideal Life Category of Body Positivity and Health, and how very many of my statements related to how I wanted to age.

Making it measurable

Turning as many of those In my Ideal Life I am a person who… statements as possible into goals became a goal unto itself. If, in my Ideal Life I don’t want to have to rely on medicine to stay healthy, then I needed to figure out what I would need in order to, as long as it depended on me, stay healthy.

This meant breaking the concept of “health” down into its most basic building blocks: Sleep. Hydration. Nutrition. Physical activity. Sun Exposure. These are elements over which I have some measure of control, if I am willing to accept the responsibility for it. These building blocks can, fairly easily, be turned into measurable goals: I want to sleep at least 7 hours per night. I want to drink two liters of water per day. I want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. I want to walk 10000 steps every day. I want to always wear my sunblock and have my sunglasses and hat.

Each of these measurable goals can be tracked with more or less accuracy. If I feel like I am straying when it comes to say…sleep…I can track it more closely. I can figure out what is keeping me from getting the sleep I need and try to remediate it. The important thing is that because I have measurable goals, if I start to just not “feel right”, then I have a baseline, and can, very often, know that if I feel like crap it is because I haven’t been drinking enough water.

There are passive and active ways to measure.

Active is about keeping a record: each morning I can write down how many hours of sleep I got, or keeping to a meal plan that includes fresh foods.

Passive would be, for example, every day when I get dressed, I put my pedometer in my pocket and off I go. At the end of the day, I check the number of steps and can know if I hit my goal or not. Or, every day I can fill two one liter bottles and by the end of the day, if they aren’t empty than I know I didn’t drink enough water.

The important thing is that it become part of my daily habits and routines. In this way, I am actually that much closer to my Ideal Life: I am doing, and keeping myself accountable to, the basic things I need in order to stay healthy.

Adapting to changes of season

It seems that at each change of season, there is something that shifts. At this particular moment, it is that I am not sleeping as well as I should be. This was, probably, related to the transition from in-school to vacation routines, but now that we are better adapted, the sleeping problems have remained.

Often, it will be that transitioning away from our regular routine means I will have fewer steps, since, walking the boys to and from school nearly got me to my goal every day.

This is why, at each change in season or transition period, it is so important to step back and consider how things are going, how close I am to my goals and what tweaks need to be made to help bring me back. Doing this regularly means that a huge trajectory shift, which would typically require an equally huge motivation becomes unnecessary.

Ya see why we look at Health every three weeks in our Ideal Life exercise? It really does make our lives easier!!

Tomorrow, we are going to look at some of the more unmeasurable but nonetheless important parts of staying healthy.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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