On The Table

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Perfect Health: The Best Health Gifts May be Hard to Wrap

Perfect health is something we all aim to achieve. The best gifts come in unlikely forms.

Perfect Health: The Best Health Gifts May be Hard to Wrap

We go through this every year.

It’s as reliable as the reindeer, as consistent as the candy canes. It is as much a part of the Christmas season as the lights and songs and decorations.

It is the annual quest for the perfect health gift.

It is roughly analogous to the annual quest for the perfect toy gift, or the perfect jewelry gift or the perfect gadget gift.

Perfect Health Gift

But there’s something about the perfect health gift that sets it apart from other presents, from even the most beautiful of baubles, or the hottest technology tools.

It matters.

In addition to any other virtues of fun or excitement it may have, a health gift is important. It’s got gravitas, because quite simply, no matter our age or other interests, there’s little more valuable than our health and wellness.

So, every year I field questions about products or books or programs that someone might want to give a loved one. Naturally, what’s best depends on the recipient. People really want to hit the mark with this present, and the more the recipient seems to “need” a little health help, the more the giver tends to fret over getting it right.

And very often, there have been some misses already, the year’s supply of yucky-tasting meal replacement powder, the uncomfortable exer-cycle that wound up as an awkward clothing rack.

When you consider that health gifts really ought to be as individually tailored as our health needs and health care, you can see that getting the right one may actually require the recipient’s participation in selection.

That said, there are three general things I find people need when they’re trying to lose weight and get healthy. In fact, they’re almost universally worthy, and could be offered to almost anyone on your health gift list. But how you package them may take some thought and creativity.

Perfect Health Gift #1: GUIDANCE

People today often expect too much of themselves—and others—in terms of understanding what it is they actually need to do to get healthy, particularly when overweight or obesity is at issue.

We have access to information like never before, yet two thirds of Americans are still overweight; diabetes is on the rise; the average American is too sedentary, eats too much processed sugar and not enough potassium.

Information is great. But while factoids about the “average American” can help us see the problem, they may not help us identify our own best solutions. Most people need help using the information, sorting out what applies to them and how.

We need guidance as individuals, for our own bodies, not for some composite average.

People who are seriously overweight truly need medical attention, because untreated, the complications of obesity lead to life-threatening health problems.

But almost anyone who is chronically overweight could use some professional guidance, whether it’s from a doctor, nutritionist, therapist or personal trainer.

Perfect Health Gift #2: TIME

Yes, time, and I don’t mean a sports watch.

In a very real sense, this is ultimately what leads to perfect health. It is what our health is about anyway—the quality and quantity of the time of our lives. We try to get healthy because we want to stay around longer, and feel better while we’re here. But research shows that people cite a lack of time as a major barrier to both eating better and getting more active.