Recently I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and nearly Dead”. It was movie that chronicled the journey of Joe Cross, a man who was sick and obese and how he changed his life through a 60 day juice fast. In the movie Joe talks to a morbidly obese man that appears not to care about his health. He reveals that his vegetarian brother is battling cancer, thus he refuses to restrict his diet for prolonged life. His words: “I am only here for a short while, so I am going to eat what I want and be happy.”
This really made me think.
Does eating whatever you want make you happy? And is it possible to be very unhealthy and happy? I think the answer is NO. Let’s define healthy. Healthy (in my opinion) is taking an active interest in diet and fitness. A diet made up of mostly food that is closest to its natural state and maintaining some level of physical activity a few times per week. So anything that falls outside of that category we can call it unhealthy.
I certainly can not deny the shear happiness that is felt when a delicious plate of crunchy fried chicken and waffles is sat in front of you. That usually only last for 20 minutes maybe 40 at best. Then what happens afterwards? You are forced to deal with the reality of the unhealthy situation you are in. While there seems to be no shortage of lines at a new Popeye's or people posting pictures of unhealthy food escapades I am begged to ask the question are we all just that happy or are we living in denial?
As a person that was formally very unhealthy I can think of a few areas that always touched on my unhappiness:
Retelling the stories of old glory days. I remember two years ago when the topic of athletics would come up with a group of friends; I would recount the days of running on the track team, being the captain of the volleyball team and breaking swim records. These stories were to deflect my current state of laziness and focus on the “glory days.“ Clearly, I had admiration for my previous athletic shape. Fitness was something I valued, but since I was unhealthy and out of shape I could only recall the past. I often hear these stories when I meet people who don’t have an active lifestyle recounting glory days of athletic vigor. Sometimes I want to ask them what is stopping you now? I think when people bring up these stories it reveals some unhappiness they have with their current fitness level.
Limits put on life. There is nothing worse then being the one that is completely out of breath while walking up stairs or going in a clothing store and even their largest size does not fit. The limitations that you have when you are unhealthy start to add up. Not to mention the sickness some deal with as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle which include: acne, joint pains, irritability, diabetes, sleep apnea, snoring, depression, lack of mental health, fatigue and the list goes on. On the outside everything may appear happy and fine but when you face these limits as an unhealthy person it strikes a nerve.
The defense mechanisms. I used a number of defense mechanisms in my previous unhealthy state. My favorite word to describe myself was “thick,” as this defense kept me from seeing I was really fat. I would tell others I ate very healthy but my problem was I ate too much. When it came to fitness I would tell people I was working out when in reality I was doing the bare minimum at the gym. I believe if I was truly happy being unhealthy than I wouldn’t have to hide behind these things to give people the false sense that I was healthy.
Low energy level and vitality. This for me is the biggest symptom of being unhappy while being unhealthy. If you look at an active healthy person they just seem to exude energy. They are always on the go, they have a certain glow in their skin and they just walk with an extra pep. While the opposite is true of the unhealthy. I remember I was constantly tired (barely able to stay awake at work), some days my skin just looked gray and I just felt weighed down and uncomfortable. Its hard to be really happy when that is your daily reality.
At the end of the day I believe that health and happiness go hand and hand. People make so many excuses and put up so many defenses when they are not living well (trust me I did it), when in reality they are not happy with their choices. I don’t doubt that the man in the movie is happy he can go out and eat whatever food he wants, but I am sure if you dug a little deeper and found out the true quality of his life it would be far less then happy.
What do you think? Can you be happy and unhealthy? Share your thoughts.