At 10:42 this morning I sat across from my new doctor to review the results of my annual physical. The first words out of his mouth were, “Congratulations, Katherine. You are extremely healthy. You’re eating right, exercising right, and it shows in your test results.”
My first reaction was, “Me, healthy? Ha. Yeah right.” I was so baffled that someone would describe me as a healthy human being that I almost looked behind me to see who this guy was actually talking to.
Oh, right. There was no one in his office but the two of us. Holy crap. That means he was talking to me. And that means I’m the healthy one.
My bafflement over this may come as a surprise to most people because I’ve been a relatively thin person for most of my life. And most people assume that if someone is thin, they’re also healthy.
And most of those people are wrong. Here’s a little secret about the way the world works: What you see on the outside is not always indicative of what’s happening on the inside. If you’re thin, it does not mean that you’re healthy. Just like if you’re successful it doesn’t mean that you’re happy.
Seeing isn’t always believing.
Three years ago, the reading of my test results would have been a dramatically different story. It would have been the same story I’d been hearing, and ignoring, from doctors for years:
“Katherine, despite the fact that you appear healthy on the outside, your body is far from healthy on the inside. Your stress level, complete lack of exercise and terrible eating habits are having adverse effects on your health. Your cholesterol is high, you’ve had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies, and your internal ratio of fat to muscle mirrors someone who is, technically speaking, obese.”
Well, OK then. And back to work I went…
Three years ago my diagnosis was clear: thin on the outside, rotting on the inside, but with a metabolism high enough to hide it.
And that diagnosis mirrored my life at the time: successful on the outside, rotting on the inside, but enough drive and determination to hide it.
At the time, I knew I was unhealthy and pretty unhappy. But everyone around me thought I was thin and successful. Why change?
And therein lies the problem.
If you live your life for other people, you might appear all happy-happy-joy-joy on the outside, but you will — eventually — start rotting on the inside.
I ignored my insides for 20 years — eating terrible food, working terrible hours and smiling and nodding at everyone around me.
Until I stopped.
Once I started living my life for me and dropped all the trophies I was carrying around to impress other people, I developed a newfound desire actually to take care of myself.
I am no longer an afterthought in my own life. I have become the first thought.
And today I have a clean bill of health to show for it. My cholesterol is perfectly fine, my trend line toward diabetes has disappeared, and my body mass index is well within the normal range.
Me. Yes, me.
People might think that finding your truth and living a more authentic life is fluffy or superficial or self-indulgent.
But it’s not.
I became a happier person and that made me want to be a healthier person.
I could never seem to get it to work in the opposite order. I couldn’t get my health to lead the way, so I let my happiness take the lead, and my health quickly tagged along.
If you’re working hard to live a healthier life, perhaps hitting pause and determining what will lead to a happier life will work for you, too.
My happiness has had a direct and dramatic effect on my health. When I was living a life of performing, perfecting and pleasing, I made absolutely no time for myself. I never exercised, I skipped meals all the time, and I went through the drive-through when I was starving.
Now, I’m happy, and I make time for myself. I make time to exercise. I take the time to research new doctors, and I find the time to cook healthy meals for my family, even if they don’t like it.
And it’s not because there are more hours in the day than there were three years ago. There are still only 24 hours in each day, but now that I’m spending them doing the things I want to do, instead of doing the things I think I should do, I have plenty of time for doing the things that actually matter.
Happiness is the goal. And once you find it, you’ll find a lot more time for the most meaningful things in life.