The values associated with your health go beyond just numbers and metrics; it’s also about the core beliefs guiding your behaviors and decisions. Here’s how you can find yours.
With so many different messages in our wellness culture, it can be difficult to navigate what is the best route for you. Deciding how you want to improve your health proves to be challenging when there’s so much conflicting advice and emerging new trends. And humans are highly individualized, all with different bodies and different needs that change on a day-to-day basis.
For these reasons, sustainable health is more about turning inward to what your body needs to optimize physical, mental and emotional wellness. And when you turn inwards, you are shifting your focus towards your values.
So what do values and health have to do with each other? Everything!
Health is about behaviors, and behaviors are driven by your intrinsic values. For example, it’s not the number on the scale that is the most important value in our health, but rather the behaviors we have and engage in that helps maintain our body’s health. We get to choose what practices and behaviors matter to us in order to preserve and optimize our well-being. This is one of the reasons why forcing health goals on people hardly works in the long run…and the reason we aren’t identical robots. By understanding what you value in life, you then have the ability to align your pursuit of health with those values. Let’s take a look closer look within ourselves.
One of the best ways to figure out your values is by journaling about who you see yourself becoming in the next 10-20 years.
Ask yourself: What is this person like? Who do they spend time with, what is their relationship with food like, how much do they think about their body, how do they talk to their body, what movement do they enjoy, what are they passionate about?
Some examples of values are flexibility, kindness, authentic connections, autonomy, satisfying and nourishing your body. Next to each value, expand on why this is important to you and how you see it relating to your health. Here are a few examples of what this can look like:
Satisfaction & Connection
I value satisfaction and fullness when nourishing my body. A meal that contains all the food groups (carb + protein + fat) keeps me both full and satisfied. The environment & the people I’m eating with are equally important. These are the things that make a healthy meal and have proven to nurture a healthy, intuitive relationship with food.
Flexible equals freedom from rigid rules, which allows me to be able to adapt to different situations. Having flexibility also gives me freedom from feeling like I have to micromanage my food choices.
By strengthening my roots, I gain more autonomy and am able to fully experience life. Having autonomy is important so that I can lead by example and positively impact those around me.
By valuing kindness, I am able to treat myself with the same kindness that I give to others. When there is kindness instead of harshness, I am able to embrace imperfections.
The last step is to challenge your previous ideals with these new values.
If you value flexibility and connection with other humans, then staying home to avoid challenging food situations isn’t in alignment with your values. If you value autonomy and authenticity, eat in a way that feels good to your body rather than cutting out a food group just because someone else might be. If you value having energy and mental clarity, then it may be important for you to have a regular eating rhythm with an appropriate volume of food.
By gaining awareness around what we would rather have our health look like, we can then make behavior changes that align with our values.
Only then, can we create our own definition of health.
HEADER IMAGE: PETER LEWICKI
Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Pittsburgh, PA inspiring others to have a healthy relationship with food. Specializing in disordered eating, and intuitive eating, Haley’s mission is to show that healthy doesn’t have to be restrictive or defined by how you compare to others. To stay inspired to be your healthiest you, visit Haley at INSPIRD Nutrition.