While wholesomeness can refer to one's moral nature by it's dictionary definition, the Roman Virtues focus on it's aspects of physical health and cleanliness. Because of this may then seem difficult to think of health in terms of virtue, however, since the word "virtue" usually applies to moral or ethical principles and most people don't consider being unhealthy the same as being unethical. One can, however, consider taking proper care of their body a moral behavior in the sense that they are choosing to respect the value of their own life and the quality of life they can share with their loved ones. It would be wrong to judge someone who has made poor health decisions to be a bad person, but it isn't wrong to see your personal decision to protect your health as an extension of your own respect for yourself and for those that depend on you.

The first point of wholesomeness is physical health, and this is a large umbrella topic under itself. If this site weren't dedicated specifically to virtues, this topic could spur dozens of entire philosophies and methodologies to being healthy. There are some points, however, that are not very controversial and should be taken seriously by everyone, and these are diet, exercise, and prevention.

In America and many other developed places, it becomes all too easy to develop eating disorders—sometimes even being unaware that we have a problem. Food is readily available to us at a historical low cost, and the unhealthy foods are cheaper and prevalent than the things that we should be eating. Like most creatures, our bodies are naturally aimed at surviving times of distress and famine, but now that we have our environment relatively under control it is hard to keep from putting on the pounds since our bodies are designed to make use of every calorie we ingest. In fact, the food industry is developing fats and sugars that our body can't use just to avoid this simple fact of nature. If we are going to live a modern life-style in a state of reasonable health, we are simply going to have to have self-discipline—and possibly some outside help or resources to keep things under control; food can be an addiction just like drug abuse or bad behavior, but with a twist: we simply cannot "quit" eating food altogether. If you are looking into changing your diet, make sure you prepare for the fight that it is likely to be for you.

Exercise is also crucial to overall health, and it has been shown repeatedly that those who exercise regularly have a far better quality of life in their later years and are more liable to avoid disease. This not only helps avoid a life tortured by physical ailments, but it also improves our chances that we can be an active part in the lives of those we love. The unfortunate truth is that modern people can't really exercise as much as our bodies were intended too—some people think our ancestors were constantly on the move, even hunting by chasing after prey over hours on foot as we wore them down. Since our bodies for some reason don't naturally relish in constant exercise, we also need discipline to get regular exercise and learn to love being out of our chairs and moving around.

Finally, we have to take care of ourselves through prevention. This means overcoming a fear of seeing the doctor and following their advice. Despite what the "unconventional" health practitioners say, our doctors are not really trying to kill us and keep to eternal life out of our grasp. The truth is that most people really do live longer, healthier lives by visiting a doctor regularly and by following the advice of health-professionals. This means that when you get injured or sick that you see the doctor sooner than later, that you follow his or her advice, don't take prescribed medication incorrectly, and follow up with them after treatments. Believe me, you really will be better off.

Now, for the second portion of Wholesomeness, cleanliness can be important to both our health and our mental well-being. We are all probably aware that being clean can help us avoid disease (and that it can prevent us from turning others away with fowl odors). There are other benefits too in that it can help keep one in better spirits. Personal cleanliness can help improve our own self-image and pride in ourselves, and having a clean home will help improve the mood and outlook of most people—this is something that has been proven time and time again.

In fact, the importance of health and cleanliness is something that few are going to dismiss. The problem of living in a clean environment and being healthy is usually one of self-discipline and good habits and not of ideology. That is what we will tackle with our exercises below.


  • Get a Checkup, and Keep Track of Your Own Numbers: If you are the type that ignores this kind of thing, go get a physical and maybe a blood test to see how your numbers are panning out. If you are considering losing weight, get in the habit of not only weighing yourself consistently but also keeping track of other statistics, like your BMI (a calculation that can help you generalize about what you should weigh). If you could use improvements, get advice and do the research needed to begin turning your health around—or prevent it from getting much worse.
  • Record What You Eat: Even if you aren't overweight, recording what you eat remains the best way to get a clear picture of the problems with your eating habits. It has been shown that people loose more weight while tracking what they eat, and if they then remain in the habit of keeping this up will be much more likely to keep it off. It can also be used to evaluate the quality of your food choices and what situations are more likely to encourage poor decisions. Make goals and then mark yourself at "fault" if your records show you didn't meet them (you may need to alter them slightly if you become certain that they are unrealistic or too unambitious).
  • Keep a Personal Journal Related to Your Health Goals: You could combine this as a part of your daily record of what you eat, if changing these habits is also a part of your goal. This helps you reflect on the health choices of the day and get yourself thinking critically about them—and getting your feelings down on paper is also simply therapeutic. Recording what you eat, for instance, will give you the data you need to make better decisions (and keep your goals in the forefront of your mind), while keeping a personal journal will encourage you to think more deeply about your successes and failures.
  • Learn About Nutrition: Go online, read a book, or take a class. Learn all about soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, the types of fats, and all sorts of good info about eating. You should know this stuff if you plan to make informed goals to improve your health.
  • Exercise Four to Five Times a Week: This might be simply going for a walk, but you should try to take the time for continual exercise once a day for four or five days a week. Continual exercise is better for the heart and cardiovascular health rather than exercise broken up over time or done very strenuously for a short period of time. You should exercise at least twenty minutes at a time, and on average significantly more than that.
  • Find One Ignored Health Issue, and Look Into It: This might not be applicable to all people, but many of us have an issue or minor condition that we suffer through or ignore every day. Unless you can't afford the consequences, stop procrastinating and get professional advice about the issue you are experiencing. If you are sure you don't need a trip to the doctor (don't rush to assume this) or simply can't, then do whatever research you can yourself—but remember you are never qualified to diagnose yourself and serious conditions always require medical attention.

Your Record

This is such a personal subject so easily tainted by poor self-evaluation that you really need to look at your life-style carefully to make the positive goals that will reflect the real changes you need to make. You are really much better off practicing careful self-evaluation rather than quickly making up a few ideas that "sound good." You might use some of the tips and techniques up above to help you make (and achieve) these goals. When you do make plans, take extra care to record your success and to mark yourself at "fault" if you fail to meet your goals and perform the planned activities. Note: It is sometimes easy to make unrealistic goals in this virtue, especially when it is related to weight-loss, so feel free to adjust them if needed—also make sure that your goals always reflect some real, tangible (and measurable) improvement.


To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.


Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.


To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.

William Londen

Golden Mean

Obsessive healthiness

Recommended Reading

The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit, and Transforming Your Life — by Chris Downie

This book is based on the successful online health community. This text has a motivational, positive bent that focuses on what you can do rather than what you can't do.

If I'm So Smart, Why Can't I Lose Weight?: Tools to Get it Done — by Brooke Castillo

This author studied psychology and weight-loss for years, and turned her own journey of losing 75 pounds into this guide book.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Beauty commonly produces love, but cleanliness preserves it. Age itself is not unamiable while it is preserved clean and unsullied; like a piece of metal constantly kept smooth and bright, we look on it with more pleasure than on a new vessel cankered with rust. Joseph Addison