What Does Healthy Really Look Like? (Updated)

This is not a self-portrait. Although I wrote this poem based on a true story, I do not really enjoy running.
I still do not enjoy running even while wearing fancy Shabbat clothes or just a bra.
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I recently learned that my health insurance gives access to a healthy activities gaming app of sorts. Basically, you can log a variety of healthy activities into the program and you get these rewards that can be redeemed for discounts, raffle prize entries, or auctions for larger ticket items. The activities are pretty varied and broken down into little wins. The program is pretty user-friendly. The messaging is positive – think “Yay, you completed [insert healthy task]” and not shaming you for doing something unhealthy or not doing a healthy task. It’s a cute little program.

It got me thinking about how much my lifestyle has changed pre- and during the COVID pandemic.

***

It would be easy to say that my current pandemic lifestyle is healthier than my pre-COVID lifestyle. Here are some highlights from pre-COVID life:

JYP’s Pre-COVID LifeJYP’s Pandemic Life
5-6 hrs. sleep per nightNo commute
Long commute to workSwimming laps at the pool regularly + occasional cardio classes at the gym
Eating lunch (and often breakfast and/or dinner) out at a restaurantEating meals at home
Frequent nights out drinking with friends after workAlmost no drinking
Frequent bouts of vomiting / hangovers following nights of drinking Therapy

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

***

Here’s are the details I left out.

JYP’s Pre-COVID LifeJYP’s Pandemic Life
5-6 hrs. regular, uninterrupted sleep per night3-4 hrs. erratic sleep per night
Showering, wearing clean clothes, grooming, hygiene. Enjoyed being clean and looking niceTerrible grooming/hygiene habits due to lack of motivation
Long commute to work which included daily 1 mile walkNo commute; walking outside for no reason feels completely pointless.
Exciting plans in the short and long-term future to look forward toSwimming laps at the pool regularly + occasional cardio classes at the gym, because there is nowhere else to go
Eating healthy and delicious, vegetable-heavy lunch (and often breakfast and/or dinner) out at a restaurantEating meals of processed convenience foods at home because maintaining and using inventory of fresh vegetables is annoying, my kitchen sucks, and I do not really enjoy cooking for 1-2 people.
Frequent nights out drinking with friends after work and having fun.Interacting with friends solely on Facebook, and realizing I dislike almost everybody on Facebook. Also, there is no “after work”
Frequent bouts of vomiting / hangovers following nights of drinking Almost no drinking, but only because even a little alcohol gives me a horrific headache now.
Low-grade functional depression (I don’t know if this is a real term; this is just the best way I could think of to describe it)Therapy, because depression stopped being low-grade or functional

Not such a no-brainer.

***

To the credit of that little healthy activities app, they do look holistically at mental health too. This blog post totally counts for the “keep a journal” activity.

Update

I realized after Shabbat that I accidentally published this post before I finished it. I was rushing because I was on my way to a cardio class at the gym and wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, other highlights of the weekend:

  • Friday, I took the morning off from work to go to a cardio kickboxing class and then a therapy appointment. The cardio kickboxing class kicked my ass (and abs, arms, thighs, and every other muscle in my body). I showered. I went to the therapy appointment, my first in about a month due to schedule conflicts. I spent Friday feeling like a supremely healthy person.
  • Friday night, I still slept in 3-4 hour intervals, but the second interval was a pretty deep sleep. Deep enough to have a rather vivid and enjoyable lesbian sex dream. (I don’t really know what the scale of sleep depth is, but I would imagine that “nearly reaching orgasm from dream alone without touching of naughty bits” is a point on the scale.)
  • Saturday morning, I woke up exceptionally sore. Every muscle in my body was sore. I didn’t go to Zoom Shabbat services because putting on a proper shirt felt like too many arm movements. I no longer felt like a supremely healthy person. I felt like a crotchety arthritic old lady.

***

This healthy habit app also rewards points for weighing yourself 4x/week. Doesn’t this sound like a potentially not healthy habit from a mental health perspective? I mean, I’m overall grateful for the body G-d gave me, but I don’t particularly like the way my body looks. My primary motivation for going to the gym is getting out of the apartment, but I was kind of hoping to become skinnier as a secondary benefit, you know.

After weighing myself 4x this week, I learned that I’ve gained 3 lbs. in I forget how many months and I do not look any skinnier so it’s not muscle. I could definitely envision someone taking this news in a bad way. I mean, I wasn’t especially happy about it and there are people who would be far less happy.

Fortunately, this health app has no truth verification method. I also checked all the activities I didn’t do this week as completed. The app gave me all the reward points. Lesson learned: Lying is good for my health 😉

Closing Thoughts

  1. Is healthiness partly a mindset? I cannot quite capture in words how insanely healthy I felt on Friday. Even while eating unhealthy meals on Friday and even while telling Therapist about how the house of cards that is my self-esteem is based entirely on comparisons to other people, a mindset that I know rationally to be rather unhealthy, I just felt this insane high or glow of healthiness.
  2. Everything is metrics. I could have just as easily written about different details of pre- and pandemic life and given a different impression of which one is healthier, or even that there is barely any change at all.

32 comments

  1. Interesting, these apps, and the fact that they are … apps. As a gen Xer, apps still tickle me a bit. They can be useful tools, but the popularity and reliance on apps still surprises me. But then, I always ran, mostly out of necessity to keep up my ability to run and defend myself physically, so I can’t really say there was ever enjoyment in it, but after a certain distance, runner’s high does kick in and feel satisfying.
    Shabbat Shalom,
    Stay safe,
    -Shira

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I get depressed from time to time too but like you I find exercise helps: I religiously go the gym three times a week — any more often gets boring — and do at least one long beach-walk another time; Still gained a few pounds though. Which reminds me: I had better drink my coffee and duck down to the gym 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This made me laugh only because I’m doing so much of the same in my pandemic life! I’m sorry for your depression and running helps mine a lot. Take care of yourself! ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I hope therapy is going well though I am sad to hear it got to the point you felt it wasn’t “manageable”. Hmm that sounds wrong. All levels of depression can be manageable. Your pre and post covid life sounds way healthier than mine so you’ve definitely got some good habits in there worthy of some self esteem. I think perhaps your high and sense of healthiness might be attributed to endorphins hence why it might feel odd to feel so good and so young one day and ancient the next. Neither a good nor bad thing, just a thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you. The habits are in waves (haven’t been to the gym at all this week, for example) and I didn’t detail the ones that are particularly awful. Maybe a better way to phrase it is that I felt like I was no longer managing depression well on my own. Therapy is an interesting experience. A positive one overall, I think, but definitely an experience. In some ways, I’m still in that “early dates” stage of the relationship where I’m trying to be more likeable rather than trying to be honest, if that makes any sense.
      I had my first assertive disagreement when I disagreed with something Therapist said – I think that is a milestone in a way!

      Liked by 1 person

        • It’s funny, because in many ways, I’m not even doing a good job of making a good impression and being likeable! I have shared so much dislikeable stuff and yet, have not yet managed to share the truly dislikeable things that actually should be shared in therapy. I feel this in blogging too, actually. Part of me wants to be way more dislikeably honest on my blog but part of me still wants to be likeable. Hard to get over that feeling.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to suspect I had dysthymia, then I went to a therapist and she just talked to me like a friend came to visit and said I was fine.

    That’s when I realised no one was going to help me no matter what I felt, so I best learn to cope with things on my own. Or find a better therapist, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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