Today I want to talk to you about being healthy and HAPPY. Have you ever taken a second to really think about what being healthy actually means? Is it a number on the scale, blood pressure score, jean size, a body free of disease, or something else? And how can you achieve this type of lifestyle?
Health can be a touchy subject. We fight over what it should look like (Victoria Secret model or professional athlete). We fight over what size dress is healthy (16, 8, or 2). We bash and judge all who don’t fit into our ideal. We forget to factor in the most important ingredient. What does it feel like to be healthy? What does that look like?
The word ‘healthy’ means different things to different people, it could mean something completely different to a college student than it does to a working mom. Regardless of who you are, I want to make a clear point in this blog. Being healthy does not have one definition. It is not one stereotype or set of rules you have to live by. Regardless of what we think picture-perfect health looks like, there is one thing we all have in common when it comes to health: Everyone wants to feel better.
I think the word ‘health’ has received a certain stereotype over the past few years. Sure, we can agree that obesity is unhealthy. We can agree that eating junk and lazing around for days on end isn’t healthy. We can even agree that living with high stress leads to physical, mental, and emotional demise. However, there are certain things associated with that term that many people think are necessary in order to be labeled healthy, but health isn’t determined by the latest workout gear or the amount of spinach you eat in a day. No, you do not need to have certain things, or do certain things in order to see yourself as ‘healthy.’ So stop forcing yourself to eat kale and do juice cleanses when you hate it! Healthy DOES NOT have to be unenjoyable or consist of a set of ‘rules’ to follow.
Being ‘healthy’ may mean different things to different people, however for me personally, healthy means feeling fit, strong, and confident. But if you would have asked 2015 Maddie or even a few months ago this question on how to be healthy, I’m sure she would have ranted on a list of rules of things to do or not do, and foods to eat and stay away from. But looking back I see how silly rules and diets are, and how unrealistic and exhausting that lifestyle can be. Being healthy is not supposed to be hard and frustrating, its supposed to be the opposite! It means doing what works for you and YOUR body, eating a balanced diet with wholesome foods and enjoying the occasional treat when you feel like it. Our bodies are made to eat healthy, natural foods; and if you listen, your body will tell you the nutrients it needs and wants. This is why I now think diet programs, cleanses, and rules are ridiculous and UNhealthy. We should not be eliminating and restricting ourselves from certain foods our bodies might be craving. Eventually this behavior will lead to irritability, depression, and most likely binge eating.
Our health begins in our insides and does’t stop at our skin. Our health (healthy or not) radiates beyond our skin into the world in the form of our actions. How we live not only affects our body, mind, and spirit, but also affects the body, mind, and spirit of everyone we encounter. When we shift our thoughts, fears, worries, and insecurities about health from the exterior (how we look) to the interior (how we feel) we set ourselves up for the ultimate success in health and happiness. How about this for an approach to health: Eat clean and healthy, manage stress, and get regular physical activity. Seems pretty straightforward, right?
Healthy doesn’t mean expensive either. Many people think when they want to start eating clean they must start by heading to their nearest health food store and stock up on every ‘superfood’ and other goodie they can find-because they think this is the definition of ‘healthy eating.’ As a college student, I learned to make do with my available resources around me and still managed to eat healthy foods without spending large amounts of money at healthy supermarkets such as Whole Foods or The Fresh Market. (However, when my parents came to visit we did make the occasional grocery stop at the nearest Whole Foods) (Thank you mom & dad! 😉 ) But what you need to understand is that there are SO many delicious meals you can make with fresh fruits, veggies, and proteins that are easily found in your local grocery stores/school cafeteria and are all equally packed with nutrients.
My next point is misconceptions. While I believe knowledge is the key to growth there are certain situations where too many opinions and articles about the same thing can make people confused – especially when it comes to their health. I know it was for me back in my early years when I first started researching about how to be ‘healthy.’ With the inventions of fad diets and social media, also comes a saturation of ‘health advice.’ So many girls (even guys) think that they aren’t ‘healthy’ because they ate a burger the other week or a small fry. But I want to make this point clear and I know it is a hard point to swallow when we have been told differently for so long – eating a burger or french fries every once in a while does NOT make you unhealthy. It makes you human!
Another misconception often associated with being “healthy” is the way you must look or how much you must weigh in order to be considered in this category. But if you think about it, there is not one specific way everyone should look like or weight everyone’s scale should read. So what if you have a six pack, toned arms, and large leg muscles or not. Do you really think that determines your health level?
Question: Wouldn’t the zoo be pretty boring if every animal looked exactly the same? Don’t you enjoy looking at the different animals and their different personalities and different body shapes and sizes? The jaguar looks much different then a bird but they are both active animals, so which one would you say is “healthier?” Like a zoo, the world is filled with so many different types of people with different skin colors, eye colors, body shapes and sizes; and if it were any different it too would be pretty boring. Why, then, are we constantly trying to look exactly like the other girls on our instagram? And just like a penguin might be cute and cuddly to one person but scary and ugly to another, we too cannot please EVERYONE in this world. So I suggest you stop trying to please others, and start doing things that make you happy and feel good about yourself. God made each and every one of us unique and special in our own ways. We each have different body types with special talents and features that we should love and accept, and once you learn to love and accept yourself other people will follow. You may be 15 lbs heavier than your sister or friend, but that may be the weight your body feels and functions best. Each person is different, so you cannot be basing whether or not you are healthy by your body size or weight. So don’t get hung up on what is perceived as healthy and what is not, or whether someone thinks you are attractive or not. Worry about how you feel. When do you feel your best?
The ultimate takeaway of this post is that: the key to a healthy and happy life is to never deprive yourself and feel like you are missing out on the things you enjoy. Like my dad always likes to tell me, you only live once! This is especially important when it comes to your health and fitness, because it can become so easy to get into bad habits, both physically and mentally. I would be lying if I said I didn’t still struggle with my bad habit of eliminating foods out of my diet. Everyday I struggle with this mental block or fear against certain food groups, but I am beginning to learn and understand that eating a burger or pizza does not define who you are, what your goals are or what you can achieve. Your mindset does! If you want to do something, there is nothing stopping you from achieving that apart from yourself. Believe in yourself and put in effort day in and day out – no matter how large or small that sum is.
Be wary of what you read on the internet and remember if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Don’t fall into the lies of these diet ads that guarantee losing 2″ off your waist and 10 pounds in 2 weeks. Remember, ‘health’ isn’t defined by a series of rules, such as no carbs, low fat, a certain style of exercise or what time of day you eat. Health is largely up to the individual and it is based on how you feel! It may take time, but you will get there!
I hope that each of you can find a balance in your life that works for you, whether you are a student, a mom, or working a full time job. Everyone deserves to feel healthy, happy, confident, and beautiful. Remember to live a balanced lifestyle and listen to what your body wants. Exercise regularly and eat meals with wholesome, unprocessed foods – your body will thank you for it!
Email me or comment below with any questions or struggles you might have or if you are having trouble finding what works for you. I’d love to hear from each and every one of you guys!
Jeremiah 1:4-5: “The Lord gave me this message: ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”