Do you know what your health accent is? More importantly, do you know what it reveals about you?
No, I’m not talking about the way you speak – but the way you act.
Seth Godin says it best – “More than geography, accents now represent a choice of attitude.”
And when it comes to your health, you have a choice. You can choose ignorance. You can choose apathy. Or you can choose greatness. It’s a life-altering choice.
How can your health have an ‘accent’? Simple. The foods you eat (and don’t eat) tune it. The recreations you partake in hone it. The social circles you belong to amplify it. These actions and attitudes vivify how you regard your most valuable asset – your health.
And how you treat your health speaks volumes about how you live your life. Such intimacy is visible for all to see. Put simply – your health accent offers an intimate sneak peek into the heart of your character.
So, what intimate secrets do your health accent reveal about you?
1. Are You For Real or a Phony?
“When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.” – Lou Holtz
Talk is cheap. Advertisements bombard us from all directions promising miracle solutions to difficult problems. New Year’s resolutions are crafted by the bazillion in all categories of life.
But rhetoric never delivers results. Talk is empty without action, without attitude, without accent.
Action fuels authenticity. And authenticity is central to one’s character. It accentuates all your life. So if you treat your health with dishonesty and ambivalence, what does that say about you the person?
How can you tell if you’re a health phony? Gauge for yourself:
- What’s your motivation to exercise – pleasure or justification for indulgences?
- How do you classify your fitness persona – absentee, weekend warrior, or lifestyle enthusiast?
- Do your healthy resolutions have specific action plans and metrics of success?
- Do you keep revisiting the same health goal, or are you succeeding and progressing?
Actions speak louder than words. Be authentic with a healthy accent.
2. Are You Passionate or a Dudder?
“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Angela Monet
Passion is the elixir of life. It ignites creativity, stimulates joy, and delivers meaning. It’s a force powerful enough to change the world. And it’s uniquely your own.
Your passion radiates largely through your health accent. It gives you personality and likability.
Face it. Boring people are, well, boring. Passionate people are exciting, inspiring, and engaging. And when you express this passion through your health accent, it’s an irresistible gravity that attracts awesome relationships.
So, are you passionate or a dudder?
- Do you lust for new, healthy foods?
- Is your diet colored with a variety of healthy foods?
- Are you happiest when being active?
- Do you eagerly share your health passions with your friends, family, even strangers?
- Do you view and share your healthy life with an open mind?
The choice is simple – to be a gleeful, healthy dancer or a gloomy, unhealthy critic. Which are you?
3. Are You a Knight or a Pawn?
“Leadership is a choice. It’s the choice to not do nothing” – Seth Godin
Leaders choose to act. They see or sense a deficiency in their health or life and choose to correct it.
Don’t panic. Leadership is not reserved for the super extroverted. It’s not relegated to only those that govern large tribes of followers. The question here is – when it comes to your health accent, do you lead yourself to a healthier tomorrow, or do you not?
So, are you a healthy lifestyle knight or a pawn?
- Do you challenge conventional “healthy” wisdom?
- Do you choose to take action to improve yourself, even when you don’t know it all?
- Do you share your healthy wisdom with others in need, or horde it for yourself?
- Do you try to conform to someone else’s template of a healthy life, or do you create a first rate version for yourself?
Here’s the irony of leadership. Leaders lead from within; they lead by example. So, even if you don’t label yourself a leader in the extroverted sense that truly doesn’t matter. When you lead yourself to something greater, you’ll discover that you’re inspiring others to act the same.
4. Are You a Warrior or a Wimp?
“No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.” – Harry Gray
Okay, so I’m not deadly serious about “warriors” versus “wimps”. But my point is that cowardice is dangerous. At best, it leads you nowhere. At worst, it handicaps your life from its awesome potential.
Further, warriors embrace criticism as a motivating force. It propels them to act in the spirit of their convictions. By contrast, wimps cave to criticism. They seek acceptance from everyone. And when you aim to appease everyone, you appease no one.
Tim Ferriss nails it.
“The sure path to failure and misery is trying to please everybody.”
“Doing anything remotely interesting will bring criticism.”
Your health accent contributes largely to this distinction. Good health does not come easy. You have to fight for it. You must design a healthy lifestyle and stand beyond those convictions. The outside, unhealthy world will rage against you. Will you stand your ground?
So, are you a warrior or a wimp?
- Do you challenge your healthy lifestyle fears or flee from them?
- Are you accepting of failure in the pursuit of a healthier life?
- How do you handle criticism about your health convictions – with apprehension or strength?
- Do you seek the uncharted fringes of your healthy life, or do you rest complacently in a safe, mediocre-healthy world?
- Do you favor asking for forgiveness or asking for permission?
People that matter and make a difference aren’t namby-pambies. Great people do great things. Great people take a stand.
The Only Health Accent That Matters, Yours
Your health accent is a conscious choice about how you want to live. It can create a life of true happiness. It can propel you to greatness. And it always reveals the intimacy of your character.
But there are no right answers. There are no perfect set of rules, attitudes, or actions for you to follow. Instead, you must discover what’s best for you and plow your own path.
That’s the magic of your health accent – the super power it gives you to shatter the status quo and replace it with a remarkable, unique, and healthy life.
Melissa Marks Garner says
I have to say, this is one of my most favorite articles that I’ve read here (and there are some really great articles here!). I just wanted you to know that! I think it was very honest, and I think it was just the right thing for me tonight. It was refreshing, original, and motivating. One thing that I’ve noticed for myself is that my food choices and workout choices really go in sync with my spiritual and emotional choices. Food is just a logical extension of something much deeper. I can always count on an unhealthy food choice when I’m tired, stressed, etc. And of course, I am much better at taking care of my self with food when other areas of my life are being tended too as well. Great job on the article. Thanks!
You just made my day! Thank you for such a kind comment!
I love your view about food choices being “a local extension of something much deeper”. I couldn’t agree more. Food choices (healthy or unhealthy) aren’t one-dimensional and aren’t made in silos. They reflect our emotions, and our emotions reflect our food choices. It’s a circle that re-circles. Thus is the beauty of a conscious, integrated, and euphoric healthy life!
Thank you again very kindly!
Very interesting article! And well written for your first effort out of the box. Just maybe a bit too deep for me to contemplate. I work out and I eat. I eat and I work out. That’s about as complicated as I get. Food doesn’t have much value to me. It just has to fill a space in my stomach. Most of any discipline that I have with food revolves around trying to avoid all the crud in all the foods that our industrial strength mainstream food chain have to offer. Maybe it would be useful to write about what things are actually good for a person to eat and why, and what foods a person should avoid and why. It’s just too hard to keep up with all the information. If a person could go to a certain blog and know that there would be healthy nutritional food choices, that are well defined and recommended as a substitute for some not-so-healthy food choice, that would be very useful and valuable. In particular, I would like to know what science and medicine and nutrition says about foods to avoid. Just a thought.
Thanks for sharing your viewpoints!
I accept that not everyone is or will become a gleeful foodzie (especially a healthy one) like me. However, I believe that food offers an amazing and (in many ways) unparalleled way to experience life. As Melissa so eloquently puts it in the above comment, “food is just a logical extension of something much deeper.” To me, that deeper part is your creativity, character, mood, and identity.
So, I guess I’d encourage you to re-examine your belief that food “just has to fill a space in my stomach.” To a foodzie and health geek like me, that view is tragic. Food doesn’t just fuel your life, it’s an expression of your life – hence my argument about how health (including food) vivifies your character.
I promise, once you start to experiment with new, exciting, and unique foods you’ll unlock a part of yourself you never knew existed. That’s because healthy foods are invigorating and motivating. And ultimately, you’ll have a more enjoyable life experience, and isn’t that the point?
Regarding your final remarks about listing out what foods are healthy, which aren’t, and why – a simple Google search will get you what you need. There are a bazillion and one sites/blogs out there that provide the content you seek. Just make sure you’re reading from credible sources. If you want some hardcore nutrition science, I’d recommend PrecisionNutrition.com. John is wicked smart and will give you more science than you want, trust me.
My simple nutrition advice:
* eat unprocessed foods (nothing from a box, bag, or wrapper)
* eat a colorful diet (fruits and vegetables)
* eat a balanced diet (fats, proteins, carbs)
* eat what you love (that’s also healthy!)
It really is that simple.
Thanks again for the comment!
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Wow, by your gauge, I would be a phony, duddering wimp.
I don’t find health to be some all-consuming passion. I won’t say no to food I like just because it’s not healthy. At the same time, I love fresh fruits and vegetables- I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t garden! Do I exercise? Well, I don’t go to a gym, but I do work outdoors, and I find long walks as a great way to de-stress.
I find my health lifestyle “good enough” and should keep me going into my 60s when a defective gene that runs in my family will slowly turn me into an invalid unable to stand or walk. And at that point, how healthy do I really need to be?
Thanks for the comment!
I acknowledge that not everyone will be over-the-moon giddy about a healthy lifestyle. And my use of metaphors is merely to incite others to think critically about the quality of their life and how better health can magnify that quality.
To a large degree I feel that you’re doing this – your use of long walks to de-stress and love of fruits and vegetables prove it. You’re in tune with your body and are reacting accordingly. Sadly, I feel many cannot consistently do this.
And while I don’t advocate mindless, unhealthy eating, I also don’t advocate total isolation from foods you enjoy. I have two arguments on this point – (1) is there a healthier alternative to the food you crave that you could equally enjoy?, and (2) are you indulging in your cravings beyond a reasonable and healthy point? I ask these rhetorically of course. The main point is not to deprive yourself, not at all! The opposite is true in fact – strive to enjoy everything you consume and engage in. Just try to make your choices as healthy as possible.
Lastly, while I’m no medical doctor and have no knowledge of your genetics, I feel (generally) that accepting a pre-conceived fate isn’t helpful. Mind you, being ignorant isn’t helpful either. I simply believe that we all can influence our destinies, even those that may have gloomy horizons.
All the best to you and thanks again for the great comment!
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Well, its hard to call some of my favorite foods healthy. Certainly not the worst things in the world, but eggs and cheese are high in fat. I love various cheeses so much that they get incorporated into at least one meal every day. And eggs are on the menu approx 2-3 times per week, not including dishes that include eggs, such as baked goods.
I could take or leave things like chips and chocolate; but when they are around I have trouble saying no. That’s why I generally don’t buy them. They will be eaten in excess, but I don’t feel the need for them like I do eggs and cheese.
The contention I have with most health & fitness gurus is that it is made to seem that you aren’t eating Healthy (with a capital H) then you are unhealthy.
I understand where you are coming from about not accepting pre-conceived notions, but I’ve already been diagnosed; the symptoms just haven’t started yet.
Personally, I’m not a cheese fan, but I do love eggs! I believe that eggs get a bad rap – there’s new research in fact that is dispelling the antiquated beliefs that eggs (because of cholesterol) are bad. Check out this great article if you wish to learn more (http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/june-2009/healthy-eating/cholesterol-reconsidered.html).
Good job of recognizing the secret to avoiding wild indulgences – simply don’t have it around! Again, it’s a simple strategy that many struggle with.
And I totally agree that Health (with a capital H) isn’t just about eating “healthy”. My Healthy Lifestyle Design philosophy involves the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of quality health too.
I’m truly sorry to hear about your diagnosis. All I can say is that I hope you can maximize your life joy and excitement for as long as you can. All the best!
I agree that clear motivation and commitment are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can’t have passion without having a deep understanding of your personal motivations. Likewise, realizing that commitment does not equal perfection will help you to stay on track and to not become demotivated by minor setbacks or criticism.
The anti-perfectionism element of Healthy Lifestyle Design is crucial. Perfectionism isn’t just unhelpful, it’s harmful. As you point out, it’s a cancer that spawns frustration, which leads to anger and apathy – culminating in abandonment of one’s healthy lifestyle aspirations.
The secret is simple – dare to be imperfect. Push the envelope. Explore. Learn. Fail. Evolve. Grow! It’s human nature to be curious and aspire to something greater. Don’t hold back! 🙂
Thanks for the comment! Ride on!
Great (and grammatically correct) writing! I love it. The article touches on a lot of a lot of challenges everyone faces when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. i notice that I face quite a few of the challenges myself. I think the key, though, is not to beat yourself up over caving to these challenges — by definition they are hard to avoid. Living a healthy lifestyle is challenging!
I think that awareness of these challenges is the biggest key — if you’re aware of the challenge, you can make a conscious decision. After all, every single thing we do in life is the result of a choice. We can’t all be perfect and we can’t always make the ‘right’ choice, but if we’re aware of the choices we make, we evaluate the opportunity cost of every decision, and we make one that we can live with moving forward, I think we’re all doing the right thing…and yes, I’m still talking about living a healthy lifestyle 🙂
While some of that may apply to any choice we make in life, i think it plays a particularly key role in designing our healthy lifestyles. Instead of working out to avoid feeling guilty about eating a slice of pizza or having a few beers one night, we simply need to realize that we aren’t perfect and that working out was part of our healthy lifestyle (just as making a conscious decision to enjoy a slice) and that it is NOT justification for the pizza.
So often, I find myself guilty of the latter–I’ll think “yeah, i can eat this because I worked out today” — but what I should actually be thinking is that, for whatever reason, I’m okay with eating this as part of my healthy lifestyle design” Never eating another slice of pizza again the rest of my life would absolutely drive me nuts. It’s an unsurmountable challenge for me…but building an occasional slice (or burger, steak, french fries, etc) into the design of my lifestyle is what it’s all about. I don’t feel guilty about it after I do it, I just know that it’s not a regular thing and that I valued the slice over my other alternatives at that particular juncture in my life.
I think as long as you’re never taking two-steps forward and one step back and, instead, always moving forward and making progress in your journey toward a healthy lifestyle, you’re in the clear.
That’s just my two cents 🙂
Great article. I hope to see more of your writing on here!!!
Wow! Stellar (and eloquent) comment. Thank you! I couldn’t have stated your points any better.
Challenges are indeed, by definition, challenging. So beating yourself up over the details is unhelpful, even harmful. The trick is to find joy in the challenges – like working on a puzzle or devising a plan to conquer Everest. The pleasure is in the journey!
I also love your focus on choices! Too many people think that if they’re currently unhealthy then they’ll be that way forever. But in truth, you’re only has healthy as your next choice! Hence, there’s no need to hyperventilate over every choice – simply make sure that the majority of your choices are healthy ones. This approach overcomes the “perfectionism” disease that all-to-often cripples healthy lifestyle aspirations. It also allows you to relish each moment (even the occasional unhealthy one) without remorse or trepidation.
Thanks again Jon! Good luck on your healthy lifestyle quest!
Interesting insight on the accents of health. You pointed out a few of my weaknesses, and affirmed in me that not only am I not taking my own health seriously, but that I am actually a part of the “unhealthy world” that criticizes and rages against healthy people (I’m sure you’ve felt the sting of my sarcasm when referencing your yogurt and berry concoctions).
Anyway, eloquent and informative. Great post.
I’m glad that you found the article both interesting and intriguing. The beauty of health accents is that they’re never static – you can (with passion and focus) hone yours into superb fluency!
And it’s okay if you’re not where you wish to be with your health accent today. Tomorrow is always a new beginning of opportunity. Make the most of it. I promise that you’ll love it!
Great article Matt! You hit on some of my definite weaknesses. I find myself using the excuses of time and money as obstacles in my desired healthy lifestyle. If only I had more time I would make it to the gym this much more or if only I had extra cash I would buy organic, etc. Regardless, I am an active and eat as healthy as I can with slip-ups every now and then. I am in the “everything in moderation” stage right now 🙂 Thanks again for the great questions and thoughts.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Time and money are very real challenges for everyone – healthy geeks included 🙂 And perhaps, on a very slim margin, being healthy requires more time and money. But I believe that the “be healthy” stereotype wildly over exaggerates the amount needed for both. No one needs hours in the gym per day to become healthy. No one needs to eat organic exclusively to have good nutrition. The key is efficiency – good ol’ 80/20 rule.
Also watch out for opportunity costs. Many people scoff at becoming healthy because of the high-cost perception, and yet they spend wildly elsewhere. An easy way to invest more (time + money) into your good health is to simply thin-out over-indulgences elsewhere and protect your time from those that abuse it.
Keep up the great work! I’m glad that you’re active and eating healthy. Moderation is great, and “slip-ups” are encouraged! Just keep experimenting and learning!
Meghan Fife says
Yes, yes, and yes. =) I totally agree with everything in this post.
We get to choose on a daily (and sometimes hourly!) basis what our “health accent” will be. By getting up and going to the gym, by choosing the right foods, by being passionate about our health and efficiency as a human being–all of it makes our own lives better and inspires people around us without us even opening our mouths.
I remember seeing a woman put on a show one time, and I could just TELL her “health accent.” She was full of energy and passion, she was lean and in shape. I’d dare say perfect! Just seeing her carry herself inspired me to be real, passionate, a knight, and a warrior. 😉
Thank you for this post! Consider it re-tweeted!
I love your point about choosing our health accent on a daily basis. While I believe that a genuine health accent is omnipresent, I do agree that it’s an organic quality that never stops evolving. Its a superpower that we can use in many creative ways based upon the situation we’re in. In fact, that’s a key component to my Healthy Lifestyle Design philosophy = never stop exploring, never stop learning!
David Yingling says
Wow, great insight into this rarely discussed topic of health accents! Many times in life people claim they are “into health” but then on a Friday night will devour every appetizer in front of them and pound beer after beer until they no longer have control over their body. People really need to walk the walk! A healthy person is always in control of their body and their health.
I would consider myself: For Real, Passionate, a Knight, and a Warrior… all still a work in progress though. My heath accent reveals that I am not afraid to ask questions and constantly ask for advice on how to improve my health. It shows that I am not afraid to make mistakes, experiment, and learn. My health accent also allows others to realize that I am in it for the long run. I understand that the decisions I make today WILL affect me tomorrow. This is MY life and I choose to live healthy!
Wonderful comment! Thanks for sharing your perspectives. And I’m thrilled that you’re an authentic and passionate healthy knight! It’s an amazing way to live. Your point about “all still at work” is profound too. A healthy lifestyle is a journey; not a destination.
Keep going strong with your healthy accent! You’re doing a great job! Keep exploring, asking questions, and living your way!