Her advice? We’re healthier than we think:
Didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night? Don’t stay awake tonight worrying about it.
Only got in a short walk today? Catch up tomorrow.
Still haven’t lost those last five pounds? Yeah, whatever.
Stressed out about work — or life itself? Sometimes that’s the appropriate reaction.
In other words, don’t blame the victim. What Love and coauthors Alice D. Domar Ph.D., Leigh Ann Hirschman, and Nancy L. Snyderman M.D advise is that good-enough health is, well, good enough. When we don’t live up to the rigid numbers of perfect health — nine servings of fresh vegetables; eight hours of sleep; an hour of cardio — we shouldn’t worry that we are making ourselves sick.
After all, doesn’t all that stress cause …. Oh, never mind.
The goal of the book, Love told the New York Times, is to give people perspective on what it means to be healthy:
In the new book, “Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health” (Crown), Dr. Love makes the case that perfect health is a myth and that most of us are living far more healthful lives than we realize.
Dr. Love, a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, says that failing to live by the various health rules is a major source of stress and guilt, particularly for women. For most of us, “pretty healthy” is healthy enough.
“Is the goal to live forever?” she said in a recent interview. “I would contend it’s not. It’s really to live as long as you can with the best quality of life you can. The problem was all of these women I kept meeting who were scared to death if they didn’t eat a cup of blueberries a day they would drop dead.”
It’s a pretty healthy message when you think about it, especially when you apply it to the broader sphere of life itself. Liberating, actually, in that it gives us permission to stop judging ourselves when we fail to live up to uber-high expectations. Sure, we’re responsible for our own health as well as our life choices. But in life, as in health, perfection can be an unattainable — and unnecessary — goal.
It just makes us feel bad when, really, we ought to feel good.