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  • Writer's pictureJulius "Ju" Hearn

What is Health?

Hello, my name is Julius “Ju” Hearn and I am the co-owner of Chicago-Based 360 Active Recovery, located in Wicker Park. My previous athletic career, loss of family members, and passion for helping others are a big reason why I got into the health and wellness industry. The past 8 years, I have sharpened my skills to become one of the most renowned health professionals in the Chicagoland area.  Specializing in sports medicine, my extensive background and knowledge consists of sports performance, physical therapy, nutrition, injury prevention, and Chinese medicine.  Health is a vital part for any living organism to function. My question to you is What does health(y) mean to you today? Everyone has their own different opinions. Today, I would like to give to you my basic understanding and professional opinion on this topic. When someone asks me if I am healthy I feel like it is a trick question. My reply is usually are we speaking of mental, physical, or spiritual health? Personally, I feel two thirds of these categories usually get lost or go unrecognized. The most popular of the three, physical health, is the easiest to recognize or determine. You can look at a friend or family member right now and from a visual observation determine whether they look fit, out of shape, sick, tired etc.  An individual can define themselves as healthy just by being able to fit into a certain pair of jeans or shirt; correct? My question to you is why is physical health or physical appearance the first thing we look at to conclude if an individual is healthy or not? Why do washboard abs, flat stomachs, big biceps or butts determine what health looks like? I’ll allow you think on that. Earlier I asked “what does health(y) mean to you?” Now that I’ve mentioned mental and spiritual health your answer has probably taken a dive. Webster’s dictionary defines health as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit.” I can appreciate that definition, since it mentions body, mind, and spirit, but what does “sound” mean? Does it mean you’re quiet? That they each have the same volume? There is not a lot of guidance. Google, another source, defines health as “the state of being free from illness or injury.” In my opinion, Google goes more in-depth with definition but still misses key points. I like the statement “being free from illness,” yet injury goes back into that physical health category. Obviously a paper cut “injury” is not the same thing as a leg amputation, and to be honest, one can be healthy with both. I’ve seen three legged dogs live a great life and amputees run marathons; therefore, is it the physical health that really matters the most or is it the other two?  Depending on what your knowledge is on health, you would probably look past the word Google described as “illness,” as some would think of an illness as something like cold or flu symptoms. Broadening the horizon from a Western medicine standpoint, some of the most noticeable illnesses are asthma, arthritis, colds, and allergies. I used these examples because these are some of my most frequent encounters as well as being the main illnesses we are numb to as Americans. We hear someone has asthma, arthritis, or allergies, and it is normal to think there is nothing wrong with them since these are temporary conditions that come and go. When in reality, if we are speaking on physical health, usually the body has ways of telling us something is wrong, but these signs too often go ignored.  Mental Health, in my opinion, is what should be the focus of health. The reason it is not is because it’s hard to determine or gauge. The only time we hear about mental health issues is when a person has reached an explosive point. Illnesses such as clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that are all normally classified by a psychiatrist, eventually lead to medicine harming the physical and spiritual health of the body. Have you ever had a friend or family member that said they felt worse after taking the medicine or had new symptoms they originally did not? The last 10 years I have studied both Western and Eastern medicine, and have found that there are distinct differences; however that is another conversation we will have in a later blog. For now, I want you to think about times when you mentally had a draining day.  Maybe it was a bad day at work, loss of a loved one, financial stress, kids, etc. I’m certain it took a toll on you physically and spiritually. So imagine having a more severe condition and the toll that takes consistently on the body and spirit. Mental health issues are real and should be taken a lot more seriously then they have been. Awareness needs to be brought to the forefront of society. People shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help or speak their true feelings without being judged. We keep so much bottled up inside that it becomes toxic to our physical and spiritual being. I personally remember several occasions in both my undergraduate and graduate studies where help was needed, and the reality is that Corporate America today is no different.  People are working long hours, trying to meet deadlines in order to get a promotion or raise, and all of this has become detrimental not just to their mental health, but overall health. As this topic comes to an end, I hope that I have given you a different perspective on “health” and all things that should be considered. I do realize that I gave three categories of health, leaving out “spiritual health;” there is a reason why I decided not go deep into that category. My belief is that who or whatever you believe in spiritually is the foundation to your health, and one should never lose that reason. Spirituality can also be tricky.  Personally, I am a God-fearing man, but that is not where my spiritual health ends.  I believe in qi, ora, energy forces, prana, and chakras; all of which would be impossible to discuss via a blog post. If any of that interests you, please subscribe and comment. I would be more than happy to give a more in-depth viewpoint on the topic of spirituality. I would be a terrible health professional if I gave you all of this information on health and didn’t leave you with my personal recommendations on how to combat any struggles that you may be having.  Physical health is the one that you can control the easiest and the most: exercise on a regular basis.  It doesn’t have to be daily and it doesn’t have to be a specific routine; find what makes you happy (i.e walking, running, yoga, Zumba, personal training, group training etc.) Most important, stay committed. Mental health is probably the hardest because it differs daily and weekly. Find someone, whether that’s a good friend, family member, or a professional that you trust. That should be your outlet.  That person doesn’t need to give advice, they just need to be a good listener. Another option is to keep a daily/weekly log of your feelings.  In fact, studies have shown projecting your feelings on paper is just as good as verbalizing them. Meditation, sleep, good company, and loved ones also help. In terms of Spiritual health, allow yourself to keep that foundation.
Ju Hearn

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