Defining Health: How to Navigate the Light and Dark of our Health

What does “being healthy” mean? That’s the question Amanda Kriebel tackles in this personal essay about moving from an unwell darkness to the sunshine of wellbeing. She shares actionable advice for how to follow your internal compass and discover what works for you to function optimally.


I sit awkwardly on a sunken brown plaid couch with foam padding oozing through tattered seams. I don’t see mold but I smell it. I wouldn’t be surprised if a ghost lived in this damp, hollow house. There is blaring music that drowns out the conversations of the people scattered around me. It’s like trying to describe sour. And I am bitter in my bones. There isn’t enough air in here. I am breathing another life. You are sitting right next to me and still I can’t reach you, it’s like trying to catch wind. And I am exhausted and empty. It’s been three years and I ended up here. Distant to your truth. Distant to mine. Our hearts are out of rhythm, our laughter forced. The absence of what you were haunts me. You live in the fabrication of something beyond oblivion, beyond my comprehension.

My choices led me here. Your choices led you there. We walk further apart. I want to run. But I want to do right. Do good. Help you. Why can’t I be like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, or some mythological legendary woman? The blood in my veins burns. I can’t win against illusion.

I want to see your hopes alive in your sea green eyes.

I want to be your faith.

I want to be your heroine. 

I stand outside the hollow house, in the quiet night, eclipsed by the moon.

I pray.

My hands soften. You are held. I glance in the window as you dissolve into a ghost.


healthy relationships

Relationships. Relating. Connecting. A human requirement. There are sweet ones and ones that disintegrate. They are innocent and pure. Fleeting and potent. They are a birthplace for learning. They are reflections of us. To see ourselves more clearly. They are an essential ingredient for our health. Connection and social ties have more effect on our life span than whether we smoke or exercise.

If you have been in broken, romantic relationships, venomous friendships, or disconnected from the relationship with yourself, this is a part of your health, like what you eat and how you move. You are what you eat. You are who you surround yourself with. People feed and nourish you or they deplete you. And we learn from them all. Just like we learn what tastes good to us and what doesn’t, who feels like sunshine and who doesn’t. It’s when we are in a state of being unwell that it’s so blindingly clear how much we value the full landscape of our health. We straight up take it for granted sometimes. I know I do. And I see it with my patients when they are injured, and in my own injuries as one example. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Or on the flip side we might be completely blind to a repetitive pattern as I was in the scene above. I was lost in helper mode, naïve to the drugs circulating around me, and weak in a chronic cycle of hope. We falter. We make mistakes. The lesson appears. We see more clearly. We rise. We shine.

defining health

How do you define Health in one word? It could be Joy. Heal. Calm. What does health mean to you in the big picture, the whole definition? Write down – we’ll come back to it.

Meanwhile, let’s examine how others define it:

The wiki definition of HEALTH “is the state of being free from illness or injury. It’s a person’s mental or physical condition of being sound in body, mind and spirit. It’s a toast to someone’s well-being. Synonyms: wellness, heartiness, wholeness, soundness.”

In The Body Book, Cameron states:

“The word HEALTH gets thrown around a lot these days, so let’s take a moment to clarify what I mean when I talk about being healthy. When I refer to health, I’m talking about having a body that is working at its optimum, a body that has the energy to go all day without crashing, a body that can fight off illness and keep you strong. I’m talking about feeling amazing in your skin, in a body that can wake up in the morning, get out of bed, make breakfast, and get moving. I’m talking about having a mind that can be clear and productive, thoughtful and happy. “

your version of health

Each one of us has a distinct definition of health. What makes you thrive is different from what makes me thrive. We are all unique humans in various phases of life, we have different genes, requirements, lifestyles and conditions.

Next, from your written definition, and using all five of your senses, what is your portrait of Health?

• What do you see?
• What do you smell?
• What sounds do you hear?
• Where are you?
• How do you feel?
• Who is there?
• How are you relating to those around you; in your family, your friendships, your community?

Make the scene tangible. Capture your internal mood and emotions through all the sensations that are surfacing. Perhaps there are in fact butterflies present, inside of you. Pay attention to the details, the experience is real; it’s an imprint on your life.

the light and the dark 

We are navigating the light and dark of our health. We may lapse from good habits from what we eat and drink, to how we move and workout, to the relationships we form, to not taking care of our home, to ultimately not taking care of ourselves. And not listening to our needs. We are ignoring the our #1 priority: Health. There is a saying: Our Health is our greatest wealth. It sure is! Health is all the things we consume. We have the power to continually discern from what is leading us on a path toward or away from our well-being. And sometimes we get distracted, or it’s taken away from us. It’s ok, because like a flashlight we are able to shine light into the shadows to find our way again.

keep it simple

Health isn’t necessarily a goal; it’s an arena to discover what works for YOU to function optimally, at your highest level of feeling good, not in the heroin kind of way, but the feeling good from the inside. From your interior. From within your being. Follow your internal compass. Keep it simple. Moderate. Adjust. Listen. With all your senses.

Ask the simple health questions below:

• Are you getting quality sleep?
• Are you hydrated?
• What are you eating, and are you chewing your food thoroughly?
• What’s your poop situation?
• Are you moving, and how?
• Are you listening to your gut?
• Are you constantly sick?
• Who are you surrounding yourself with? Do they make you laugh? Do you get hugs?
• How are you breathing?
• Are you paying attention to all of the above?

We are each diverse, like the intricate and complicated structure of a snowflake but return to the basics. The fundamentals. Tune into these questions. They are an invitation to check in. They are an offering to step out of the cycle. They are your health. And some days you just may need a smoothie, a hug and a nap. Some days I need a smoothie, a hug and a nap.

You are sunshine, share your light~

Cheers to your good health,


“You are so much sunshine in every square inch.” ~ Walt Whitman

Related Reads: How to Eliminate Regrets and Take Positive Action, In Alignment: How to Make Your Intention Match Your Attention, Techniques for Mindful Breathing, and The Negativity Detox

Affectionately described by many as an innovative holistic Doctor of Physical Therapy, Health Stylist and Yoga Teacher, AMANDA KRIEBEL treats patients with creative movement philosophies, specific manual techniques and breathwork to optimize your goals. This powerful collaboration of therapeutic tools plus her positive and caring nature inspires access to the tenderness and vulnerability that injuries reveal. Amanda offers a fresh approach to defining what health means to you in order to investigate where true healing lives. She helps you navigate your therapeutic journey to balance the elements of being human.

Learn more about Amanda and checkout her latest blogs: and on Instagram