"Live Life To The Fullest", The Healthy Is Hot Way.

If you don’t follow Humans of New York on Instagram, you should. It’s one of the only accounts out there that isn’t just about the highlights in peoples’ lives. What’s cool about this account is that they often do special features. About a year ago, they were at a hospital covering the pediatrics department, specifically, the cancer center. One of their posts summed up perfectly how awesome health is. I mean awesome in the literal sense of the word. To reflect being in a state of awe: “ a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder”. Studying health has left me in awe. Here is the post that captured this awesomeness perfectly.

“Twelve thousand kids per year get cancer in the United States. But the extraordinary thing isn’t that cancer happens. The extraordinary thing is that cancer doesn’t happen more often. Every human life begins with a single cell. Trillions of cells will form from that single cell. During this process, the DNA will rearrange itself hundreds of times to form all different types of cells: muscle, nerve, bone, blood, connective tissue. If you look at these cells under a microscope, each one has special properties. They all have codes that tell them exactly what to do and exactly when to stop doing it. The complexity of this is extraordinary. There are numerous fail-safes at every level to prevent mistakes. How is it possible that it ever works correctly? There are trillions of chances for something to go wrong. God, it’s unbelievable. The longer I study cancer, the more I’m in awe of the healthy child.” --------------------------------------------------------- Thanks to the 27,000 people who donated, last night we reached our goal of $1,000,000 to help Dr. O’Reilly and his team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center fight pediatric cancer. (A special thanks to the anonymous $14,000 donor who put us over the top in dramatic fashion.) We’ll try to add to that total in the remaining few days to make the largest impact possible. Thanks to everyone who’s engaged with this series. I have received so many notes from the patients and doctors interviewed. They have been so moved and encouraged by your comments. I assure you that every single comment is being read. I know that many of the patient stories have been extremely difficult to read, so thanks to all of you who have helped bear the weight of these stories. Cancer is extremely isolating and there is great value in every type of human connection. So thank you. Anyone still wishing to contribute to our fundraiser, link in bio.

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After having the chance to study both embryology and pathology, this doctor summed up exactly how I feel about health. Its complexities render it precious. A lot about embryology still isn’t understood. We understand a lot about what is happening at each stage of fetal development but not always why. This is what I find so awesome. Two cells come together, start dividing, structures start growing, dividing, folding, migrating, all on their own and eventually a tiny human is formed.

Adding a mentos to a glass of coke, is probably the most remarkable reaction I’ve ever been able to create by bringing two things together. It’s called the miracle of life for a reason. A tiny human is forming, growing, and comes out resilient and continues to be throughout his/her life.

This resiliency is evident when you start looking at pathology. Not only because of the sheer amount of diseases there are, but also because of the widespread effects that happen when even just one cell fails to do what it is supposed to. It is awesome that more things don’t go wrong. When you really start thinking about what you are, it’s frightening. We are basically a giant mass of cells, cells that are constantly doing things to ensure we stay alive. The scary thing is that they work entirely independent from conscious thought; we have no control over how well the systems of our body are functioning (to a certain extent). The only real control we have is our lifestyle, what we actively do to promote our health.

This brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves: “live life to the fullest”. People love telling me this. Society has made “living life to the fullest” synonymous with excess, which isn’t surprising considering that the notion of consumption is being shoved down our throats from every direction. Eat more, drink more, buy more, work more, sleep less… I remember once being told that I was going to have a lot of regrets later in life, when I refused a friend’s offer to snort some adderall off one of his high school binders. “Come on” he said “live life to the fullest”.

What I didn’t get then and still don’t get now, is how are we supposed to be living life to the fullest when our physiology isn’t functioning properly or optimally?

When your lifestyle revolves around harming your physiology, whether that be chronic stress, drugs/alcohol, lack of sleep, eating poorly etc etc. Your body isn’t functioning the way it should. How can you be living a full life if your mind is groggy, you have no energy, you’re tired, you’re stressed, and generally just don’t feel well on a daily basis?

I’m not here to tell you to stop all your indulgences; I know the value of nights out with friends and family, and the importance of celebration and creating fun memories. I’m here to tell you that if you’re someone who prioritizes your health, you ARE living life to the fullest. You’re creating pathways to help you function properly on a daily basis and you’re creating a blueprint for longevity. Our bodies are fragile, there are millions of chances that things could go wrong. If striving to live a life where I feel good and happy most of the time, all while doing the most I can to ensure I live long, isn’t “living life to the fullest”, then I don’t know what is.

It’s a shame that a rich life is becoming less and less defined by how good and happy we feel most of the time. It’s a shame that being health conscious has become, something that is associated with being “boring” or “uncool”. It really is a shame that the awesomeness that is our body is often overlooked and taken for granted. And, it’s a shame that many people will never know what it feels live to live in a body that’s taken care of, or just how powerful it can feel to fuel it in a way that promotes its resiliency and proper function.

We don’t have much control over disease, but we can control what our lifestyle consists of. SO, please stop telling me I’m not “living life to the fullest” or that I’m not “on your level” just because I avoid things that have proven to take years off your life. Health is fragile and that concept is often neglected by the healthy. Society pushes us to take risks with our health, rather than protect it. I’m tired of seeing tragic news stories, where those risks went wrong at a young age. HIH is important for that reason. It’s here to remind you that being healthy is cool, you’re going against the grain and choosing protection over risk. You can lead a full life while prioritizing your health and it’s about time that we start celebrating each others’ protection rather than our risks. It’s about time we create a movement that sends a different message about health. Absolutely, do not live your life in fear, but acknowledge your body in some way and find your balance.

If you’re wondering how you can start implementing ways to promote your health here’s one of my first articles, or check out the rest of the wonderful articles on HIH.