This word has plagued many of us.
Men, women, gender-neutral and anything in between have contemplated what it means to be healthy and mostly what healthy looks like for our outward appearance.
Does it mean being skinny?
Does it mean being curvy?
Does it mean lifting weights or running more?
Does it mean vegan? Paleo? Or Dairy free?
There are so many categories in which we identify ourselves within our lifestyle and within our body shape in order to conform to an impossible standard that frankly, I don’t find healthy at all.
The Webster’s definition of Healthy is this
: having good health: not sick or injured
: showing good health
: good for your health
And Health is defined as
: the condition of being well or free from disease
: the overall condition of someone’s body or mind
: the condition or state of something
Kind of a circular definition right?
All in all being healthy is a feeling, a state of being.
Free of disease and injury physically while mentally sound and in good condition.
The issue therein lies in the statement of “showing good health”
What does healthy look like?
This is where society and cultures divide. While in the United States a thigh gap and protruding skeletal structures are a sought after aesthetic , in other parts of the world like Mauritania, women are over feed and gorge themselves for beauty’s sake because that is the desired look to find a partner.
For the Mauritanian society being larger means you are well feed which supports the idea that you have the means to feed yourself well, which then means you are financially well off. Skinny women are looked down on as being poor and even wretched where larger women are from well off families.
While the United States and Mauritania are on opposite ends of the spectrum neither is particularly “healthy”.
To be over or under fed are not healthy practices to get in the habit of for beauty’s sake. Rather one should feed themselves the correct amount of calories and with foods of true nutritional value.
Meaning: eating 2,000 calories worth of chocolate is not the same as 2,000 calories of well balanced meals made up of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
And the amount of calories one should be eating is also dependent on size, age, gender, and activity level.
There are many factors involved in living a truly healthy lifestyle but across the board there are repeated habits that one should pick up.
Nourishing your body properly with food.
Drinking plenty of water.
Staying active, even moderately with walking, biking, hiking etc.
And staying mentally healthy by keeping stress levels down and getting proper sleep.
I think these are all vital and important in making sure you live a healthy lifestyle and I take things a step further with my own personal habits but something I would like to add is this,
Feeling good about your body.
Self-love is a huge part of mental health.
While most of us equate being healthy with the number on the scale it is how you feel that truly matters. I struggle with this constantly, picking myself apart, thinking I could be thinner or more toned but at the end of the day I feel good. I take care of my body, it is after all the only one I have. I am conscious of what I put into it and how I treat it and what I think about it.
Most charts try to tell you what you should weigh in accordance to your height and age but as someone who is 5’8” and 165lbs some say I am “overweight” but honestly, and I am not trying to toot my own horn here, I do not look overweight. I have a woman’s body with curve, an athletic body with muscle and I am thick and there is nothing of thinness or fragility about me.
Some may not think it the “ideal” but I feel healthy, I eat right, I exercise, I sleep and I practice self-love daily.
The number is not what defines you and your health.
The societal pressures are not what define you as beautiful or not.
And the definition of healthy can be spun in every which way.
But my 2 cents lies in this statement: how you feel physically and how you feel about yourself are more important factors than what others think of you.
Take care of the body God created and gave you, treat it wisely and love it deeply. Those are practices with long term benefits of beauty no one can argue against.