Our “good enough” guide to staying healthy

What’s actually “good enough” in terms of your health? Everybody’s got all these busy health routines, from going to the gym to eating healthy foods on the go to striving for perfection in every area of life. That can include sleep, relationships, sports, business — literally everything.

There’s this idea that one can’t achieve true success in life unless one seeks perfection in all things. Success.com, a website dedicated to revealing the key concepts and strategies of thought leaders and success experts, even has a featured article entitled “Why Healthy Is Not Good Enough.”

This begs the question then: With all these gurus and influential people declaring that good enough isn’t actually good, what’s the truth when it comes to staying healthy? We’re going to explore that together.

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Before you begin

Before taking a look at specific areas of health where we’re all told we need “XYZ or you’re going to DIE,” and before taking a look at areas of our psyche where we tell ourselves that living every moment of our lives at 100% is the only acceptable standard, we need to pause and be present with ourselves.

Every single person on the planet can probably improve some area of their lives. However, achieving those improvements doesn’t usually come in intermittent, superhuman bursts of activity and speed. The more effective and lasting route is more like consistent baby steps that never cease.

Remember that you’re already ahead of the game if you’re making a consistent effort to improve.

The gold standard: Eat up to nine servings of fruit and veggies

How many servings of fruit and vegetables do you eat every day? It’s a good bet you’re not eating nine servings. Who does? Does anyone actually eat nine times per day? Even most “you must eat five small meals per day” diets don’t push nine servings of both fruits and vegetables per day.

That’s about 2.5 cups of vegetables and about 2 cups of fruit per day. ​That’s doable, perhaps, but it’s a demanding standard to meet. Yet, that’s what’s preached by the good folks who put together the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines.

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According to a Harvard study, that’s overkill, which showed that just five servings of veggies and fruit were enough to lower an individual’s risk of stroke by 20%.

Conventional wisdom: You need to do cardio five times per week for 30 minutes

Go jogging. Jump rope. Do some HIIT training. Use a rowing machine. Elevate your heart rate and keep it raised for at least 30 minutes. If you aren’t doing that, you’re not winning the game of fitness.

Well, that’s what we’re told anyway.

You have to wonder why, though, since there are studies that suggest smaller workout segments that last for just 10 minutes provide the same health benefits of longer exercise sessions.

For instance, one study published in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation showed that “even moderate levels of physical activity (at least 600 kcal/week, or the equivalent of just over 2 hours per week of brisk walking, consistent with current guideline recommendations) are associated with a lower risk of clinically important CVD events.”

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The paper in Circulation went on to specify that participants who exercised two hours a week (about 17 minutes per day) reduced their risk of both stroke and heart disease by at least 27%.

Clearly, these people aren’t exercising non-stop for thirty minutes, five days per week. Yet, many health experts would argue that a 27% reduction in an individual’s risk of heart disease and stroke is a good thing.

Maybe it’s even good enough.

The traditional view: Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily

Drinking eight full 8-ounce glasses of water every single day of your life is ideal. That’s what everyone’s been taught since kindergarten. However, the truth is that you ingest water from various sources and not just by drinking from the garden hose.

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Many people do not need to go out of their way to drink eight separate glasses of water. Drinking a beverage with a meal and eating fresh produce at one or more meals is often good enough to keep the body hydrated. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences has said, “The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”

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The verdict: Good enough is better

When you realize that being “good enough” is actually a good thing, it takes the pressure off. Your risk of both physical and emotional injuries goes down. You don’t have to put out exhausting levels of excellence in perpetuity to be enough.

You are enough.

Life doesn’t have to be a race that is essentially an all-or-nothing mad dash to the end. Just commit to small changes and understand that doing something is better than not doing anything at all. Do that, and your path to staying healthy will be good enough.

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