“Healthy” is a fairly objective term. Healthy means to be in good health, or to be free of disease, or to promote good health. You can be skinny and healthy, you can be plump and healthy, and you can have big, bulging muscles and be healthy. But you can also be skinny, plump, or muscular and at the same time unhealthy.
It’s important not to confuse normal and healthy. “Healthy” speaks strictly about a person’s health, whereas “normal” is a more subjective view of what a standard should be. What is normal typically stems from an average, but averages don’t always apply to everyone. What’s healthy for you might not be healthy for someone else.
You can find countless online examples of normal heights and body weights, normal diets and duration of exercise, and normal physiques that will tell you what it means to be healthy. The trouble is that people aren’t made from a mold, and these normal things don’t apply to everyone every time. People are often a different height, weight, or shape from what is considered normal, yet they’re in perfectly good health.
The normal amount of sleep, normal caloric intake, or the normal amount of exercise that one person needs in a day might not be enough, or could be more than enough, for another person. There are so many factors that play into what a person needs, and not all of these factors can be summed up and accounted for by a single universal number.
That’s not to say that guidelines aren’t credible, or that they should be disregarded. Guidelines – like those issued by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion aren’t just made on a whim. There’s a lot of research done and input by knowledgeable and qualified people to develop these guidelines, which are designed to apply to a majority of people. However, since your specific needs might not align with the needs of most people, you can’t simply rely on general guidelines.
For example, those with special health conditions might find that generalized standards do not apply. Following basic guidelines might be inadequate in maintaining health and wellness. The best approach for being healthy is to focus on what’s normal and healthy for you, rather than what you think that normal should be.
General guidelines can provide a good reference point, but they might not suit your specific needs. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to have an annual meeting with your primary care physician. Primary care physicians work with you to maintain wellness, which can include providing guidance in making healthy decisions that will work with your individual needs.