In a day and age of the fitness revolution and the overwhelming number of social media profiles dedicated to being “healthy”, it’s a no wonder people have completely lost their sense of reality when it comes to the question, “What does it mean to be healthy?”. Whether we recognize it or not, we subconsciously start comparing ourselves to what we fill our minds with. We start thinking she’s super skinny so she ‘must be healthy’. What? No. All that says to us is that we’ve stuck ‘healthy’ in a very tiny, generalized and stigmatized box of what healthy should ‘look’ like. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, vanity aside, why you want to look like her?
Culturally, we’ve narrowed down our gaze to a small pinhole of viewing what is healthy and who fits in our box, focusing mainly on external aesthetics. We focus on food and exercise, which don’t get wrong, are great things that can certainly contribute to being healthy. But what about sleep, sleep amounts, and sleep quality? Or how about the quality of our social life, if we have one at all? Do you have life goals and an action plan to execute? Let’s play with these ideas for a moment. Suddenly, health and being healthy isn’t so much about your kale and spirulina green drink or how many calories you burned at the gym. It’s a little bit more than that, isn’t it?
There’s a lot that makes up who you are and what fuels your reasoning behind your actions in life. Let’s put our thinking caps on and go over a few mental exercises.
Think about your goal body -or- think about a time in your life you had your ‘best’ body
Now ask yourself, how confident were you in that ‘goal body’ or ‘best body’? What were your relationships like? Do you remember if the food you ate was nutritious, or did you take the time to figure out a nutrition plan that aligned with your physical fitness goals? How were you doing in other aspects of your life, such as your job, school, friends, and family?
Sure, you might remember how tight your jeans were and what tiny size they were, but health and being healthy is so much more than just what you look like on the outside. Unfollow people on social media that make you feel bad about yourself. Stop comparing your body to the body you had in your 20s. You were a size 3 in everything when you were in 7th grade? Ditch it. You’re a woman now – embrace your body for the majestic power that it has, not that it was.
We’ve been guilty of following an unrealistic version, view, and expectation of what it means to be healthy for too long now. The journey towards your ideal image isn’t a journey that starts on the outside, it starts on the inside. Referencing a quote here, “If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress.” We must come to the realization and expectation of ourselves that our bodies must feel good on the inside, not just aiming to look good on the outside. True beauty is found in not how you look, but how you treat an love others. Mind blowing stuff coming from a fitness company, we know.
You don’t have to be the fittest, most muscular, skinniest, clearest skin and the flowy haired person in the room. You do not have to be the stereotypical fit chick. However, what you should do, is find the confidence to be comfortable in your own skin. Furthermore, take pride in accepting and appreciating everything that your body is capable of doing. Lastly, finding a way to have a positive, inward appreciation for all that you are, all that you do, and all that you will accomplish in the future. Not just what it looks like on the outside, or how you are comparing yourself to the image of others. Who knows, that skinny fit chick might be the unhealthiest human out there.
Having a healthy relationship with your body is a daily practice of letting go of the image and idea of who the world wants us to be and simply embracing who we really are. Health with your body is the way you hold yourself, the way you treat yourself, and the way that you accept yourself. All of you. Not just some of it, or the pretty parts. All of it.
Imagine the happiest person you’ve ever seen or met.
Picture their smile, imagine the way that their eyes lit up and the way that they carried themselves. Now, picture how they talked and the way they were positive and uplifting. How through their healthy and positive attitude on life and that moment, they actually inspired you to feel the same!
Consequently, try imagining what they looked like on the outside, the body type they had. Were they a bit fluffy or had a roll here and there? Maybe they skinny and did they have a perky chest? Did they happen to have perfectly white teeth? Was their skin blotchy or did they have acne?
I bet you can’t remember much of how they looked, in a negative way that is. Their overwhelming health and happiness took place of their outward image. Subsequently, health and beauty are not on the face; they are a light in the heart and soul that shines through the windows of their eyes. This is a grace and lesson we must learn not only to give to others but to give to the woman staring back at us in the mirror, as well.
First of all, sleep, and quality sleep must be a priority. “But I”, “But my kids”, “but my dog and my job and my this and my that”. Okay, stop there. Sleep is not your priority. It is not a value you hold dear. This is a problem. You are neglecting yourself and you are failing at practicing self-care. You are putting everything else before yourself. It happens to the best of us, but where do you draw the line? Where and when do you say, “enough is enough”?
Establishing and maintaining a healthy sleep pattern is essential to living and performing at your highest level. The amount of love and time you give yourself is the max amount of love and time that you will be able to give to others. So, why isn’t a healthy sleep pattern a priority of yours?
You must have limits and boundaries and you must respect them. The respect from others, will come with time. Your purpose in life is great; you serve a great mission, you inspire, you educate, you are supportive, you are absolutely amazing. It’s important that you give yourself a bit of that amazingness, and often, it comes in the form of ZzzZZzzz’s.
Sleep provides women (and men) a fundamental awareness rooted in confidence, respect, and an understanding of what is healthy, for you. Sleep is healthy. And without it, you don’t run on all cylinders. Who would want to drive a car with misfiring cylinders in the engine? Not many. That engine is going to break down and you’ll be stranded on the side of the road. Don’t drive yourself into the ground.
If you were to measure your conversations on the scale of engagement, liveliness, and excitement, how high would you rank them? Do you say yes to spontaneous engagements or do you stay reserved, making excuses and reasons to keep yourself back? Accepting invitations to parties and celebrations is more than just showing up in a cute outfit and having conversations. You also will have to have self-control around party foods (yes, the cake, fondue, and open-bar) and try to engage more with people than the dessert table. This means getting on the dance floor and having quality conversations with people both familiar and unfamiliar.
Or how about this perspective – do you keep yourself from attending BBQs during the summer with fellow friends and family because you are ashamed of your arms in t-shirts and your legs in shorts? Do you restrict yourself from the sweets table at a wedding because you are fearful you will grab too many, so you refrain from eating both dinner and dessert, only to binge at home when you are alone? Are you finding yourself ordering a plain salad, remaining reserved and quiet on a date, only to run home, call your best friend and binge eat pasta at midnight? Now, what kind of social life is that? It’s not a good one, that’s for sure.
Establishing and maintaining a healthy social life stems farther than just random conversations at work and being polite on the phone. Life begins when we start participating in it; in a community, in comradery and when we do away with being intimidated by others. It’s making memories and creating bonds with friends and like-minded people. A healthy life is embracing vulnerability and honesty. It’s looking intrinsically and telling yourself, “I accept who I am” and then going out and giving others the opportunity to accept you just as you are. Believe me, you will be loved!
Health is the new rich; it’s a bountiful wealth and a great gift. It’s not about the weight you lose, it’s about the life you gain. And when you start living a healthy life, when you start eating food that is nutritious and exists without labels, when you start saying yes to opportunities and stop cutting yourself off from the world and from your own happiness, you no longer live within the stigmatized box that society calls ‘healthy’. Your body craves nutritious foods, not junk. Food can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison – choose wisely.
Healthy isn’t defined by an hourglass shape, a stretch-mark-less body, a few extra pounds, or an ‘ideal’ image on Instagram. A healthy lifestyle and a healthy image begin on the inside. Transcend your attitude, your mind, and your mood by establishing a positive mindset. The body achieves what the mind believes and you CAN achieve a healthy lifestyle. Maybe lay off the comparison and judgemental thoughts to focus on your own mental, physical and emotional health. You cannot control everything in life, but you can control what you put in and what you do to your body.