What Is Health – Really?

Friends laughing and playing music together on the beach

Health means something different to practically every human being on the planet. But to provide a simple, useful, and actionable framework, we break down Personal Health into 3 Major Components. They are simple to define, and can be worked on independently: Nutrition, Exercise, and Psychology.

Nutrition can be thought of as our Health “Intake” – in other words, what energy and nutrients we absorb in from the world.

Exercise can be thought of as our Health “Output” – in other words, what energy and effort we expend back out into the world.

Psychology is comprised of all the internal thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that either enable or deter us from carrying out Healthful Actions. Otherwise known as Mental/Emotional health, it is the most often ignored in the health and fitness world, but ultimately the Golden Gate through which all health goals succeed or fail. Psychology encompasses a lot but can be broken down into two areas: our internal thought life, and our reactions to stimuli from the outside world.

Nutrition, Exercise and Psychology are the Three Components in our “Three By Five” Health Framework. Let’s break each of them down a little more.


Grilled steak for a weekend dinner

Nutrition is the part of our lifestyle regarding what we put into our bodies, specifically into our digestive system.

When most people envision “Nutrition”, they think of eating nutritious foods like fruits and veggies. However, nutrition is a lot more than that. Nutrition encompasses not just the healthy things you eat, but the damaging ones as well. It includes things like water, and alcohol. It includes things like pesticides sprayed on our lettuce, or antibiotics fed to the chicken we eat.

You can think of Nutrition as anything you put through your digestive system – whether its helpful or harmful to your body.


Two women getting a walk in during lunch break in the city

Exercise is the part of our lifestyle regarding how and when we move our bodies. In addition to normal body functions, it’s what we choose to DO with the nutrition (fuel) that we ingest.

When most people envision “Exercise”, they think of an intentional, high-energy “Workout”, like running or lifting weights at the gym. But exercise really encompasses any way or method that you move your body. Walking briskly between meetings is exercise. Running after a toddler all day is exercise. Gardening is exercise. It also includes calming, relaxing movements like stretching and walking, not just high intensity activities like sprinting or crossfit.

Exercise is about strengthening our cardiovascular system, strengthening our skeletal system, and strengthening our minds.


woman meditating in field

Psychology is a topic that many people completely omit in the topic of fitness, and yet in our opinion it is the foundation and enabler for long-term success or failure in the area of health.

If we are dealing with something traumatic in the present or the past, or we are chronically anxious about the future, we cannot be in a mindset to eat well or cook for ourselves. We will not have the motivation or energy to exercise regularly. If we have a high stress job, or are surrounded constantly by negative, jealous or unsupportive people, this is going to hinder us. We will be sporadic at best. We will want to give up, “treat” ourselves to special meals, or drown our sorrows in comfort eating.

If we do not approve of or love ourselves enough, we will become yo-yo dieters, or will become obsessive about how we look, to the detriment of how we feel on the inside. This mindset does not lead to long-term success.

Balancing the 3 Components of Health

woman looking out at the ocean

By separating Health into 3 separate Components, we can more easily assess our own strengths and weakness and form an attack plan.

Most people are not equally healthy in all 3 of these areas. For example, one person may have their nutrition really on point, but be failing to exercise sufficiently. Another person may be the opposite: working out like a fiend, but because they don’t have their nutrition under control, they are essentially eating or drinking through their workouts. Yet another may be high in both nutrition and exercise, but inconsistent or obsessive due to stress or low self image. That person would need to work on their Psychological Health level.

You can do little things every day in each of the three areas, or if you’re primarily deficient in one you can just focus on that. As we’ve said, your health journey is completely customized to YOU – not anybody else.

These journeys don’t actually end anywhere. You can certainly have smaller goals that you work toward, but life isn’t over once you’ve accomplished that goal. A lot of runners we know will barely have crossed the finish line of a marathon or half marathon before they’re already planning their next.

You’re never going to achieve perfection, and ultimately, death claims all of us. There is no one-time “perfection” finish line. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t matter who you are – whether you’re an immigrant refugee or a Hollywood celebrity, a construction worker or a CEO. ALL of our lives are messy and unpredictable.

Couple Hiking at the top of a mountain

HEALTH is an unending journey in life that you are ultimately on alone, with many milestones, goals and rewards along the way.

Imagine you were planning a trip around the world that was going take a year and visit 25 countries. You wouldn’t be all excited to finish the trip before you even left, would you? You wouldn’t be thinking about that last flight where you touch down at home after its all over. No way!

There is so much to see and learn and experience along the way. So view your health journey like a trip around the world. Enjoy each experience, and stay present in the moment.

Next Up: Life Factors Influencing Health


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