Most people would agree that it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle… and if you asked me, I would agree too.
But what does an authentic healthy lifestyle really mean?
This is where things get confusing. In the media, healthy means a certain “look” or jean size. Healthy lifestyles are promoted by trendy diets and selective exercise routines. We’re told how to be healthy, as if there’s just one way.
WHAT’S AN AUTHENTIC HEALTHY LIFESTYLE?
Most simply it means finding what works for you.
So, the problem here is that: there are so many different aspects to health that vary person to person. I live a healthy lifestyle and my dad lives a healthy lifestyle… but we both live very different lives. See what I mean? There’s not just one way to be healthy. So, 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 even an image of your doctor. That’s exactly why we’re going to break down the 4 categories of health – so you can find what a healthy lifestyle means for you!
THE 4 SECRETS OF AN AUTHENTIC HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
It seems like a lot of people are concerned about their health, but unfortunately, they aren’t always knowledgeable about the topic. I feel like anywhere I go, I hear comments about what people regard as “healthy”. When I’m 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 I think about working out, the thought of “calories burned” never occurs to me because I’ve learned why calorie counting doesn’t actually work.
In school, I constantly heard girls bragging about, “skipping breakfast” or “only having (x amount of food)”. This is because mainstream media portrays tiny portions as the “healthy thing to do”. And maybe it is, if you need to lose a lot of weight, however, most of these girls didn’t need to. This brings me back to the point of everyone having a different healthy lifestyle.
1. CHECK YOUR MENTAL STATE
Let’s talk about one aspect of health that’s crucial, mental health. The World Health Organization defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which an 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.”
Mental health is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
If we’re not in a healthy place mentally, it’s so challenging to carry out our daily lives while taking care of ourselves and those around us. For me, the whole point of being healthy is to be happy, confident and able to live my life to the fullest. None of these things can be truly achieved if you’re not in a healthy 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, someone reading this may have totally different needs which they take care of in their own ways!
2. SUPPORT YOUR BODY HOLISTICALLY
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 exercise regularly and make sure I get a variety of foods. I try to consume all of the vitamins and minerals to get as many benefits possible! I also try to get a lot of sleep so that my body can easily carry out its rigorous schedule.
3. EAT THE WAY YOUR BODY TELLS YOU TO
Speaking of nutrients, another important aspect of health is food! This is something that most people are aware of, but I also find this is where things can get really screwed up for people.
Every single body on Earth has different dietary needs.
While everyone has different body shapes, they also have body systems that work in different ways, with different energy requirements, and different tastes in food! This is essential to consider when trying to create a healthy lifestyle. Because if you’re not listening to your body and you’re just following a diet that works for someone else, it could be working against your healthy lifestyle. Just because it’s a “healthy diet”, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy for YOU.
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 don’t mean analyze your bodies specific dietary needs before, during and after every meal. 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.
4. UP YOUR FITNESS JUST ENOUGH
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’s 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.
TAKEAWAY: ARE YOU LIVING AUTHENTICALLY?
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. Ask, will this help my body’s general condition? Will this be good for my spirit? If the answer is no, it’s not meant for you. It won’t lead you to an authentically blissful healthy lifestyle, so simply let it go.