What does it really mean to be healthy? Well it’s time to find out. I thought a lot about what to do for our 200th episode together. I have so much gratitude for you & it’s such a joy to get to connect here every week. So I asked the community & settled on this idea of the definitive answer to this question.

We’re about to make some changes around here (so be sure to listen until the end). Thank you so much for being part of this feel good movement, I am so excited to start this next chapter with you!

what it really means to be healthy

I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for this community. Whether you are a new listener or someone who has been listening from the beginning (that’s four years ago!), I have so much gratitude for you and feel so very connected to this community.

This podcast is a labor of love and I am lucky to be able to have two team members, Lauren Kenson (who helps get show notes onto the website, getting the show published on the apps you use to listen, and creating the graphics that get shared on Instagram and Pinterest) and Paige Reohr (who has been doing the detailed show notes for over three years).

It’s a big effort for us to get the show to you every week, and I wanted to start by sharing the gratitude I have for you for listening.

why I started the feel good effect

Let’s jump back four years to 2017. I had been playing around with the idea of a podcast for about a year before that. I thought about it for some time because of the effort and resources that go into it. I did the first recording for the Feel Good Effect on April 20, 2017 with my friend Kait Hurley, who was generous enough to be my guinea pig. I was SO nervous about that first interview. The first episode went live on June 13, 2017. 

I started The Feel Good Effect Podcast because I had a concept of Real Food Whole Life, my brand, company, and website. I wanted a ‘Real Food Whole Life University’ where people could go for more education that was science-based. With life-tested mindset, routines, and habits for health & happiness. I wanted it to be a place where we could dive in deep and get experts for these honest conversations. I wanted to explore mindset, habits, and strategies that contribute to health (beyond what I could do on Instagram or the website). 

Looking around at what ‘health’ was portrayed to be in the media, I wasn’t sure what it meant. Based on what you are seeing wherever you get your information, what would you say it means to be healthy? For me, what I was seeing did not reflect my knowledge about what it really means to be healthy.

In addition to wanting to talk about mindsets, habits, and routines for health and happiness, I wanted to explore what it really means to be healthy and started the show with those intentions behind it.

looking back at 150 different answers

If you are a long-time listener, you know that at the end of every episode with a guest, “what does it really mean to be healthy?”. I didn’t ask for the first handful of episodes, but I did start asking early on and we now have a record of over 150 responses to that question. It ended up serving as an unofficial qualitative research project.

I purposely kept that question a surprise from guests, who came with expertise in mental health, self-care, organizing, food, cooking, exercise, etc., to keep the answer unscripted and authentic. I changed the way I asked people over the course of the show to allow guests more time to think about it and give them permission to not have a perfect answer. 

As I pose this question now, “what does it really mean to be healthy?”, pause and think about what comes up.

We’ve had over 150 guests on the show, people who are really out there changing the game in the health, wellness, personal development, and productivity spaces. One of the unanticipated benefits of doing this show was that absorbing answers to this question for so many years have really changed who I am, how I think, and how I view the world.

what no one said

We have had people on the show who have developed some of the top dietary ways of eating, some of the top people in exercise. And no one (not one person) has ever said that what it really means to be healthy had anything to do with how it looks, what diet you follow, or what exercise you do. 

If none of these experts are saying that being healthy has anything to do with how it looks, then why are we spending so much time on it?

Similarly, no one said it’s about eating a certain set of foods. Even the people who have entire empires built around eating certain sets of foods.

And no one said it’s about a very specific exercise you should be doing.

None of the things we are seeing in popular media about health were reflected in these answers, which speaks volumes about where we are directing our attention, energy, mindset, and habits in daily life. What an opportunity to flip the script.

the commonalities in guests’ answers

Looking at all of the answers from our guests, it is clear that health is best understood to be:

1 | Multifaceted and/or about wholeness. “Wholeness” or “to be whole” came up a lot, as did the concept of multifaceted – that health was about more than one thing. Being about mind, body, soul or spirit, mental, and physical aspects. 

2 | Knowing yourself and being true to yourself. Sometimes this came up around the word “alignment”. When it comes to health in your own life, how much do you know yourself, and are you true to that? 

3 | Described as “harmony”, “peace”, and “freedom”. 

4 | Feeling good. The most common answer included something along the lines of “healthy means feeling good”. 

The way that the podcast came to be named was actually from a conversation I had with my partner when I was frustrated with all the ideas we had for names. He finally said, “you know what? What people want is just to feel good at the end of the day”. And I started calling it The Feel Good Project, and then The Feel Good Effect.

It was really fascinating to see how often feeling good came up in the answers to what it means to be healthy – it was well over half!

what I think it means to be healthy

I have three answers to this question:

1 | The answer from all of our guests that most summarize the conclusion I have come to was from Jonathan Fields. He said, “to be healthy is about cultivating a state of body and mind that lets you feel how you want to feel, be who you want to be, and do what you want to do”.

2 | My second answer is from Laurie Santos, who has not been on the show but is one of the leading happiness researchers. Her definition of happiness is: joy in your life and joy with your life. It’s feeling good in your life and feeling good about your life

3 | My final, definitive answer about what it really means to be healthy: it doesn’t matter what I think. 

What matters is that you have thought about it and that you have an answer for yourself. And that to the best of your ability you are living in alignment with that. Heath is not just an individual practice, it’s also a practice of community and the institutions and systems in which we exist. 

When we haven’t thought about our own definition of health and we don’t have an answer, it is really hard to find it. Defining your terms is what matters.


Feel Good Effect Book

Meditation for the Rest of Us with Kait Hurley

Lifestyle Change, Nutrition, Positive Mindset, and Living with an Autoimmune Disease with Kristen Boehmer

How to Know What to do With Your Life with Jonathan Fields

other feel good effect episodes you’ll love

The 80/20 Rule (and How to Use It to Be Brilliant at the Basics)

When All-or-Nothing Thinking Doesn’t Work, Try This Instead

How to Good Your Should

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