The Dalai Lama, when asked about what surprised him most about humanity answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he’s never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~Dalai Lama
There is A LOT of information out there regarding what health looks like, or should look like- including an overwhelming amount of commercials for diet pills and weight loss beverages, articles stating that being Paleo or vegan is the only way to be healthy (which, when you think about it, or two opposing ideas- Paleo is mostly meat and veggies, vegans don’t eat anything animal-based…), gyms promoting the idea that the only way to be strong is to do crossfit or HIIT (high intensity interval training.) HUH?
This is the world we live in- everyone thinks they’re right about the best way to be healthy! However, I come from the idea that maybe there is no best way. Maybe the best way is whatever way is working for you and making you feel alive and excited. This looks so drastically different for each person, and that is totally okay. More than okay. It should be expected! We are all so different- different values, different motivators, different career paths, different celebrity crushes (mine is Jason Segel, more to come on him later.)
So what does health mean to me, someone who is spending their free time writing a blog about wellness?! Eating food that nourishes me, energizes me, makes me feel ready to do cartwheels in a field. I don’t label foods good nor bad, and it took a while to get to this place. I learned that when I tell myself “X food is bad”, it becomes off limits, and what happens when you want something you can’t have? You obsess about it, think about it all the time, and then end up caving and eating whatever it is, 3 times. It’s like when you tell yourself you can’t text a certain boy, and then you end up calling him 14 times to make up for it. And that is not what health is all about.
I don’t eat vegetables and fruits to punish myself, I do it because I want to respect myself. I found ways to incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables into my diet in ways that I love and taste exciting. Eating nourishing foods should not be a punishment, just like eating birthday cake should not be a reward. Healthy to me is also finding exercise that works for you. What makes me feel like I got a good workout in may not be the same for you, and that’s alright, because every body is so vastly different. And what feels good for you may change all the time. I have periods of time where I only run, and some weeks I only want to lift weights (infrequent weeks), times I only want to do yoga, and then there are the days when I forget why I like exercising altogether. Meet yourself where you’re at. What may work for your co-worker might not feel good to you, and while that may be disheartening, try to use it as motivation to figure out how you do love to move your body! Maybe it’s blasting Taylor Swift and fist pumping around the living room, maybe it’s going for a brisk walk, perhaps it’s walking the dog, could be taking the stairs at work. Lately I’ve been taking my workouts indoors and going to a lot of yoga and spin classes, which have been so much fun, besides the time I accidentally went to pilates for pregnant people, but that’s a different story.
I’ve discussed food and fitness, the two main health realms people usually think of. Now is time for the third, less talked about realm- mental health. Making sure you are feeling proud of yourself, thinking kind thoughts more frequently than not, and letting yourself feel your emotions. As a Mental Health Counselor, this is a pretty important topic for me that will be discussed in many of my posts. Why is it so important though? Because life is meant to be loved. Relationships are meant to be felt. Sad movies could make you cry, and holidays spent with your family should make you feel gratitude. Getting in touch with these feelings, being able to label these emotions and allowing yourself to talk to them with people in your life is what leads to connection to one another. And if you don’t feel ready to talk about these feelings with others in your life yet, it’s alright. Talk about them with me. See you all here very soon!
What does health mean to you?