Eating well and sleeping well

The importance of giving yourself some grace

Jayanti Jha

Health — my parent’s philosophy has always just been to eat well and sleep well. If you’re consistently doing both of these things, you’ll be healthy and feeling good. And most of the time, this mantra has proven true. If I’m feeling tired, I’ll go to sleep. If I need more energy, I’ll eat some food. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of having a healthy lifestyle, there’s more to health than just eating regularly and sleeping enough. 

Especially as an Indian immigrant family, the risks of having an unhealthy lifestyle can be disastrous. In fact, while most immigrants come to America at their healthiest, South Asian Indians carry more than twice the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than white people. Reports have even found that “physical inactivity is generally the only poor lifestyle habit exhibited by this population.” 

Upon learning these facts, I was concerned, not only for my health but also for my family, relatives and friends. Eating well and sleeping well was not going to cut it when your ethnic group is at risk of developing serious health issues. 

Every day, my sister reminds my dad to go workout, whether it’s a run or a strength online class. And every day, it’s met with unfulfilled promises. Instead, both my parents are avid walkers, and in no way are they lazy and refuse to get moving — they go on long walks multiple times a day and at a pace I often can’t maintain with them. But just walking, just like their mantra of eating and sleeping well, doesn’t meet the standard for muscle and bone strengthening.  

But their forms of exercising keep evolving, so I’m not too concerned just yet. A few years ago, in 2015, my parents went on a hot yoga kick, and it was inspiring watching them. They would come home from work, change and go to yoga. During any free time they had, they went to Bikram Yoga to sweat away their problems and come home energized. While I didn’t understand the hype of stretching in a pool of sweat, it worked for them, and they became the fittest I’ve ever seen them, probably more fit than my sister and I, despite us being in our youth. 

Over the years, especially in a pandemic, things have changed, and even having the motivation to change out of your clothes into workout ones can be exhausting. A lot of us have been seeing the often toxic mentality of “quarantine glow-ups,” and if you’re like me, have been simultaneously motivated and demotivated by them to continue working on myself. In contrast to my parents, I’ve always been super active, even outside of field hockey season. I’ve always cared about, well, more than just eating well and sleeping well.

All of this can be exhausting. Worrying about what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising can be tiring, adding pressure to our already way too busy lives. So while it’s important to care about your health and keep working on your strength goals, it sometimes becomes more important to carve off the excess worries and just focus on eating well and sleeping well. And maybe when times are easier, you can ease your way back into whatever your normal regime may be, just like I trust my parents will.

Give yourself some grace during a pandemic, and maybe take a page out of your parents’ book, if they’re anything like mine. If going for a walk is all you want to do and is the extent of how far your motivation will take you, just go for a walk. Back in the day, when our parents were growing up, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have Chloe Ting waiting for them on their laptop screens, enticing them with “Abs in 2 weeks!” And they turned out just fine, even though there’s still always room for growth. 

So if you’re struggling with motivation, just focus on eating well and sleeping well, and my parents and I promise you, everything will just turn out just fine.