When you think of the word ‘health,’ what comes to mind? Is it images from magazines of happy, toned people by the beach? A green protein smoothie packed with vitamins you’ve never even heard of? A feeling—one of positivity and ‘I can get there!’ or the opposite, ‘That’s something I’ll never reach.’
The idea of health is different for every person. There’s no right or wrong way to ‘be healthy’ or to live the life you’re intended to. Sometimes health looks like getting therapy. Sometimes it looks like showing up at the gym, even when your body is dragging. And sometimes it looks like the imperfect face learning to smile back at his/her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Health is a whole-body approach.
People think health is about working out, but it’s about so much more than that.
There’s an element of physical fitness that’s undeniably relevant to living what’s considered a ‘healthy’ life. Moving your body, getting out of your comfort zone, challenging your own definition of status quo—these things are motivating. They help to build your muscle tone, to strengthen your confidence, and to allow bones, blood, and muscles to work together to build a more powerful you.
But just because someone runs sprints doesn’t mean you have to start training for marathons. Just because your friend likes 5AM workouts doesn’t mean that’s what’s necessary for you to be ‘good enough.’
You want to push yourself beyond where you are right now. You want to join a gym or studio, build a fitness community, and learn what your body can do. But this alone isn’t health.
Beyond the physical element, health includes your choices, too.
Your lifestyle and the choices you make are an integral part of what makes you a healthy person. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy a few glasses of wine, a potluck feast with friends, beers on a Friday night, etc. This isn’t to say that your life is one of restriction. But you can’t lose sight of the fact that who you are (and who you’re becoming) is made of all tiny choices you make in the day to day.
Don’t be bound or ashamed by your choices, but let them guide you into the best version of yourself (while having fun, too).
Health is also largely dependent on your mind.
We so often gloss over the mental aspect of health. We tell ourselves that this simply ‘doesn’t apply’ to us, or we hang our heads in shame, feeling like the mental struggles we face aren’t really connected to our physical fitness, our diet, and our perception of how ‘healthy’ we are. But it does.
The way you feel about yourself influences how you perform. It influences your drive, your confidence, your balance and your self-love.
You can’t be truly healthy without recognizing your imperfections as a beautiful and necessary part of you. That obstacles will always be in your way. And that’s okay.
Health isn’t just about eating right, getting good workouts in, and watching your muscles grow over time. It’s also about the way you think, the way you feel, and the acknowledgment that you are always growing—and this is something to be proud of.