by bailey g.
As a 20-something year old woman, I’m sure I’m not alone is wishing I was thinner/ taller/ leaner/ stronger/ etc. The concept of beauty and health being one and the same is drilled into us from childhood. The media portrays a healthy woman as someone who is thin, fair, beautiful, and hairless. While we are getting better at displaying diversity in body types and shapes, skin color, and overall uniqueness; we still have a long way to go as a society.
After all, “health” isn’t a one size fits all definition, and has multiple layers behind it. Just because someone is skinny, doesn’t mean their healthy. Just because someone is packing a few extra pounds doesn’t mean they’re not fit. In fact, society’s definition of what is considered healthy has changed insurmountably over the years. From the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe types, to the slim waif-like figures, about everybody type under the sun has been considered “in” and healthy at some point in history. To learn more about each time-period specifically, you can read more here.
With each changing period of what it means to be healthy comes different health crazes along with it. From heavy cardio to majoring dieting, clean eating and intermittent fasting, it seems that humans will try anything to get to that unattainable societal concept of “healthy.”
But, what does it really mean to be healthy? No, it doesn’t mean to be skinny. No, it doesn’t mean that you’re able to run a marathon. And no, it doesn’t mean you have to be drop-dead gorgeous to be healthy either. In fact, healthy is a customizable definition for each individual. The amazing fact that each our bodies are unique and built differently is incredible, and we have different life experiences to pair with that. That means that there is a definition of health that uniquely fits each of us.
Personally, I have struggled with what it meant for me to be healthy. In high school, I thought it meant eating as little calories as possible and fitting into the smallest size jeans I could find. That, was incredibly unhealthy and extremely damaging to myself image, even years later. I thank my boyfriend, Tomas, for coming along when he did and building up my confidence enough to recognize unhealthy habits.
In college, I thought that I’d be healthy if I worked out enough and hard enough, but that still wasn’t healthy. I would over work myself and still eat like crap; which in the end did nothing to make me stronger, fitter, or happier. Finally, post college, I’m realizing that it’s a balance of eating healthy, knowing what I’m putting in my body, and finding time to get a mixture of workouts that will build my muscle and endurance over a long period of time.
To get to this point, I really had to understand that healthy doesn’t equal skinny. And that working out doesn’t mean you’ll see results. A balance of diet, exercise, and practicing good mental habits and confidence boosters is what will make you healthy in the long run. I’m thankful to Anne, for exposing me to clean-eating and showing me how I can expand my horizons. I’m grateful for my family for always showing me an active lifestyle, and how that can be accomplished in a hundred different ways that aren’t just strictly running on a treadmill.
But, in terms of my definition of what it means to be truly healthy...it’s about whether you like yourself and that you feel strong enough to live the beautiful life that you want to live. I will never be a marathon runner, but boy do I feel good when I take a spin class or go on a long hike. I will never give up chocolate, but I can appreciate a balance in carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. I’m focusing on the long term, and creating healthier habits that will eventually lead to a healthy lifestyle and eventually a healthy me. I still struggle, I still relapse, and I still sometimes have wavering confidence in how I look. But the point is to keep trying, and keep practicing healthy habits.
The point of this blog is, that “healthy” is about finding balance in your life and feeling satisfied with the person you are. A healthy you is one that is working to be stronger, happier, and better every day. I believe in you, and the hardest part is just getting started!