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What does good health mean to you?

This question has been one I’ve reflected on an awful lot lately.

If you’d asked me a few years ago, the answer would be different to what it is now. I have worked as an NHS nurse for 20 years and have seen and heard so many different opinions and views on what good health is.

Unfortunately, when I see many people in my line of work, it’s because they’re poorly. At times, as a past intensive care nurse, they’re extremely poorly and the individuals and their families would give a very different answer to me no doubt.

For those who may not know me, I’ve always been an extremely active person who is very conscious about their health and fitness, both for my mind and body. I truly believe and try and live by the health promotion advice I deliver.

For me this is what good health has meant. But what about when the external influences knock you off your path? Illness, personal hard times, employment issues, time constraints, environmental factors? Those things we cannot control.

I’ve had first-hand experience of this lately as I’m learning to cope with a pretty serious and debilitating back injury following surgery. This has meant a major shift in my physical ability with months of limited movement, some days unable to get out of bed, take the children to school and function as I, a mum, need to.

The ability to exercise, walk the dog, or even do the family food shop has completely been taken out of my control. This has led to me re-thinking a lot of things and a question that kept returning was, what does good health mean to me?

The World Health Organization’s definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” They state that physical and mental well-being is a human right, allowing a life without restriction or limitations. Now ideally, yes, wouldn’t we all love to live by this definition, but what about when these restrictions and limitations are there and impacting our health?

Our health and lives are ever changing and evolving and sometimes, as I’ve learnt, completely out of our hands. Not that long ago, good health for me meant, working out intensely 5 days a week, running 10k in under an hour and completing any type of physical challenge. And did I mention that coming first was the only option!

My perspective has had to alter and my outlook has shifted to look at good health, for me, in different ways. Taking the children to school, walking my dog and being able to sit up to type this blog, means that today, I feel my health is good.

I hope this too will continue to be an ever-changing state as I get stronger after treatment. I have had to accept that my exercise goals may be different now but there are so many other ways I can keep fit and healthy.

Immensely important for me has been the ability to keep a positive outlook throughout, which I am aware is not possible for everyone. I have had a wonderful supportive bunch of family and friends surrounding me that has kept my spirits high and a smile on my face. Even when the frustration of being unable to do what I would have routinely done a few weeks without thinking about it has been tough.

So, the purpose of this blog is to launch this question publicly…


I would love to hear and post your stories on what good health means to you as it fascinates me how different it is for everyone at different stages

Please share you story and tag us in @lifelonghealth #whatdoesgoodhealthmeantoyou

A Story from one of our followers

I want to say, this was me at my healthiest. I want to say, I had everything under control and I was

fit and ate well etc. I love this photograph but for me, it’s got horrible memories.

You see, when I’m asked ‘what does good health mean to you?’ I want to say this. This is what

is means. But for me, at this point, it very much didn’t. In order to look slim and pretty, I made

myself sick. On average, three times a day. Unless I was really starving and i took those hunger

pangs as permission. An accomplishment. Because of the bulimia, I had put a strain on my heart

and was going through regular ECG’s to monitor the damage I was doing. I was also rotting my

teeth from the acid that was constantly being hurled through my mouth. To top it off, I worked

for someone who was incredibly difficult. Demanding, unclear, sporadic, confusing, to the point

where I ended up back in anti depressants. (I say ‘back on’ as there is a whole other story as to

why I ended up on them in the first place).

So to anyone else, this is what good health may look like. But I know, I was far from it.

And this is this summer. I am five stone heavier, ten years older and although I have health

issues, frankly, i am a damn sight healthier in my body and my mind then I was back then. Don’t

get me wrong, I’d of course love to be slimmer and more attractive. But I would trade how I feel

these days for how I felt back then.

So what does good health mean to me?

A healthy mind. My kingdom for a healthy mind. You can achieve anything when you have a

healthy mind!


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