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How Do You Define Health?

Health can be defined in a variety of ways.

  • The absence of disease.
  • The absence of symptoms of a disease.
  • The ability to achieve a specific health goal. (Weight loss or reduced medication)
  • The ability to achieve a specific life goal. (Travel or dance at your granddaughter’s wedding)

There’s no right or wrong definition of health. It’s all what’s of most importance to you. However, unless you take a moment to reflect on and define it for yourself, you may by default be guided by your physician’s goal for your health.

Their goal is well-intended and certainly well researched, however, without the understanding what’s most meaningful to you in terms of your health, you’re likely following a standard protocol. They may get you 90% of the way to your health, not realizing it’s the last 10% beyond the standard protocol that enables you to achieve what is most meaningful to you.

As we’ve entered into a New Year when health goals are more at the forefront of our minds, it can be an inspirational time to determine what health means for us.

A vision helps you determine what you’re aiming towards.

You can then communicate a clearly defined vision with your health care providers, so they can support you in achieving your goal.

So, what does this look like?

As a nutrition coach, I always take new clients through this process.

What goal comes to mind first?

Generally speaking, the most popular answer is weight loss. But nobody wants to lose weight just to have a lower number on the scale. It’s about what they can do when they’re at that lower weight. (Walk up the stairs without being winded, not need a seatbelt extender during a plane ride or feeling comfortable in a bathing suit on your anniversary vacation.)

Because I work primarily with individuals that have autoimmune disease, the motivations are much deeper. The obvious would be less pain, more energy and increased mobility. But when truly getting to understand each person, they share that they want to regain the ability to walk down the driveway to get the mail, have enough energy to do their own grocery shopping, or reduce pain so they can sleep better at night.

The latter goals have such great detail that your care team will want to get onboard in setting you up for success.

From here, you can best determine what providers and services you need most to achieve health in your terms.

This may also prompt them to offer more options for you in achieving your goal. It could be as simple as suggesting a session with a physical therapist to a mediation app that’s been helpful to other patients in managing pain.

Bottom line, you need to first define your vision for health and then clearly communicate that vision with your healthcare team – ideally starting with your primary care physician – so you can be supported with the best path to your health success.

Join Alene for her upcoming webinar with MedFit Classroom:


Alene Brennan has been featured in USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post and Mind Body Green. Alene overcame debilitating migraine headaches through diet and lifestyle and is now once again using a “Less Pharm, More Table” approach is managing her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Alene holds four certifications: Nutrition Coach, Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer and Natural Food Chef. She also completed specialized training in nutrition for autoimmune disease specifically the Wahls Protocol and the Autoimmune Protocol. Since receiving her MS diagnosis and seeing first-hand the power of using diet and lifestyle to create a healing environment in the body, she dedicated her virtual nutrition coaching practice to helping people with MS and autoimmune dieseases take back control of their health. Visit her website, alenebrennan.com.

MFN Contributing Author