I think most people would agree that it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle. I would say I live a healthy lifestyle and that is something that is very important to me. But what does a healthy lifestyle entail? I think this is where things get confused. In the media, healthy is equivalent to a certain look or jean size. They promote a healthy lifestyle based on diets, selective exercise routines and numbers. We are told how to be healthy, as if there is one way. However, there are so many different aspects to health that vary person to person. I live a healthy lifestyle. My dad lives a healthy lifestyle. But our daily routines are immensely different, however, we are both still healthy.
When you think of health, what pops into your mind? Is it pictures of fitspo people? Maybe it’s pinterest tips on “how to be healthy”, or maybe you imagine your doctor. It could be so many things! I think health encompasses four different categories; mental health, physical health, dietary needs, and activity. It seems like a lot of people are concerned about their health, but aren’t always knowledgeable about the topic. I feel like anywhere I go, I hear comments about what people regard as “healthy”. When talking about my training schedule, I often get the comment, “Oh wow, you must burn a lot of calories”. Every time this comes to me as a shock. When thinking about training, the thought of the way energy is measured never occurs to me. At school I constantly heard girls bragging about, “skipping breakfast” or “only having (x amount of food)”. This is because media promotes low intakes to be healthy. And maybe it is, if you are needing to lose weight, however most of these girls did not need to. This brings me back to the point of everyone having different health requirements.
Let’s talk about one aspect of health that I think is crucial, mental health. The World Health Organization defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” These things are crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If we are not at a healthy place mentally, it is so challenging to carry out our daily lives while taking care of ourselves and those around us. For me, the whole reason of being healthy is being happy, confident and able to live my life to the fullest. I feel that none of these things could be achievable if one is not at a functioning mental state. The way I achieve a healthy mental state is by assessing my wants and needs and trying to please them. I try to stay organized by cleaning, journaling, and having a plan to stick to. Part of maintaining a stable mental state for me also requires allowing myself rest days to catch up on things that make me happy; such as writing, reading, meeting up with friends and spending time with family. While all of these things help my mental state, anyone reading this may have totally different needs which they take care of in their own ways!
Physical health is similar in the way that being knowledgeable and taking care of our own needs is crucial. It’s important to know what our bodies require to function as efficiently as possible. This aspect requires the help of doctors, who can inform you of your specific health needs. I try to get moving a lot to maintain a happy, beating heart because I feel like that could be important.I like to make sure I get a variety of foods and macronutrients to ensure that I consume all vitamins and nutrient benefits possible, as I think this is really beneficial to all of my body’s systems! I also try to get a lot of sleep so that my body can easily carry out its rigorous schedule.
Speaking of nutrients, another important aspect of health is food! This is something that I feel most people are aware of, but I also think this is where things can get really screwed up for people. Every single body on Earth requires different dietary needs. While everyone has different body shapes, they also have body systems that work in different ways, different energy requirements and different tastes in food! All of these things are essential to consider when trying to carry out a healthy lifestyle. I think another part of healthy eating that often gets overlooked is having a healthy relationship with food. Of course, it’s not healthy to constantly eat “junk food” because often this food can not provide us with enough essential nutrients, but it’s also extremely unhealthy to never allow yourself to eat what you enjoy! When I say it’s important to assess your dietary needs, I am talking about just being aware of them. I do not mean asses your bodies specific dietary needs before, during and after every meal. Because sometimes our needs are satisfying our bodies cravings are our most important need to fulfill! For me, healthy eating entails listening to my body, making sure I fuel my workouts, making sure I get every macronutrient (fats, carbs, and proteins), and eating foods that I enjoy. I like to think of food as fuel for my body and my training.
Lastly, my favorite category, exercise! I think one thing that bothers me the most is when people force themselves to work out and don’t enjoy it. I’m not saying everyone should always skip to the gym and sing and smile the whole time, but I do think it is incredibly unhealthy to force yourself to do something that you get no joy from ever. Some people just do not like working out, and that is totally reasonable. I do think, however, anyone can find a way to get moving that they do enjoy. Activity should be something that makes you feel good. I know I love exercising because it helps my mental health, increases my self confidence and helps me become stronger. I think media has turned working out into a way to burn off foods or body fat. And maybe that is your goal, and that’s okay, but I think it’s great if we all find a way of enjoying that process instead of punishing ourselves. I’m an ice dancer, so I get plenty of exercise in my training, but I don’t look at practice as my “daily exercise”. There’s so much more to it than just energy exertion. When I’m practicing I am so focused on the detail and the beauty and our corrections. For fun, I love going to the gym and trying new things. The gym is where I find my peace. I can put on my headphones and just tune out everything and feel good about myself. I enjoy switching up my workouts and doing circuit training so that I’m always changing it up to keep it interesting. Exercise is about finding what motivates you to get your body moving and enjoying it.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines health as two things. The first definition is, “the condition of being sound in body, mind or spirit.” The second definition is, “the general condition of the body”. Condition of the body. Notice there is nothing about weight or size or restriction. There is nothing about thigh gaps or abs. Because health is not a size, it’s a state of being. Next time someone tries to tell you they’re healthier than you, or that you need to do a certain thing to be healthy, just check with yourself first. Will this help my body’s general condition? Will this be good for my spirit? If the answer is no, simply let it go.