Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be healthy.
After working in therapeutics and becoming a pseudo-wellness-worshipper who still loves beer and gets irritatingly self-righteous about vegetables, I’ve stumbled across this question multiple times – What does it mean to be healthy?
What I’ve decided is this: It’s not a static state of being. Working towards whole health is a process that spans an entire lifetime. It challenges us to be brutally honest with ourselves when we’re spending too much time at work, distracting ourselves with relationships, drowning ourselves in shitty hipster homebrews or whatever, and bingeing on Netflix, social media, and pizza to avoid reality.
With such a big cultural shift towards a focus on wellness, (and the weird elitism that sometimes exists with that) it’s difficult to avoid the self-imposed guilt or shame that bubbles up when we see “everyone else” succeeding in this area. It gets overwhelming and becomes easier to slip into apathy, making jokes about eating our feelings, rather than admitting regret or disappointment for not taking better care of ourselves. Alternately, I often experience a lot of people taking themselves too seriously with it. JP Sears makes hilarious videos about this:
To me, a healthy lifestyle means choosing to fill your time, body, mind, and soul (if you’re into that last one) with the things that make you feel like the best possible version of you. It means supplementing ourselves with the people, foods, passions, places, information, activities, etc. that nourish and rejuvenate us.
Also, creating a healthy lifestyle feels hard AF.
I still fall into patterns of procrastination and avoidance followed by self-deprecation, eating too much sugar, sleeping too little, neglecting my mental health, and using technology as a buffer between the world and my internal, emotional landscape. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult AF, but it can certainly feel like that along the way.
It also takes A WHILLLEEE to implement. That means we’ve got to be patient with ourselves.
It seemed easy enough a year and a half ago when I promised myself I would commit to a healthier diet, workout regime, and improving my writing after spending a shameful amount of time on Pinterest looking at, “workout motivation quotes.” (Pinterest people -you know what I’m talking about).
In the end, all it took was seeing a photo of me and wondering why I continued to punish myself for being sad, creatively stifled, and out of shape, then punishing myself further by doing nothing to solve it.
That’s what’s tough about trying to establish a healthy lifestyle. We know what we could be doing to improve our situations, but we often fear the painful discomfort that accompanies change. Sometimes we feel unworthy of those things we desire, (happiness/love/success/purpose/connection/fulfillment) or we ignore our inner voice that begs us to be kinder to ourselves. It’s hard sh*t to overcome and ultimately, we are the only ones who can take control of it.
It took me over a year to lose eighteen pounds, prioritize a budget for healthy foods into my monthly spending, cook regularly, and unplug from social media more often. It wasn’t until the last six months that I truly committed to fully paying off my debt, moved out of my parent’s house, and started saving for a new car. It was only in the last month that I’ve implemented (almost) daily meditations and started a productivity journal.
And you know what? Things feel better. I feel better. Not just about my body, or my finances, or my creativity, but about who I am.
Working out regularly gave me a tremendous confidence boost (with an added bonus of a higher ass). Eating healthily gave me more energy to do the things I love and – because the food is so expensive – opened the door to a new hobby and encouraged me to grow a garden. Committing to my writing has increased my self-esteem and motivation to succeed. Putting money in the bank created a sense of security I rarely (if ever felt) since graduating college and living on my own.
But it didn’t happen overnight, not even close, and it would’ve been incredibly unfair to myself to expect anything more. Striving for a healthier lifestyle was really hard at first, and I wanted to give up A LOT. So many times I would’ve rather crawled back into bed than hit the gym, had four awesome beers instead of one, and eat PB & honey sandwiches at 10:30 pm and possibly die rather than cook after a double shift.
I’m not sharing this sh*t to impress anyone. In fact, there are WAYYYYY more healthy people than me out there. (Which is SO awesome). I’m saying it because the benefits of pursuing a healthy life are real and they’re what we really need right now.
Decide what being healthy means to you. Start small, with even one change you can make in your day to day life that makes you feel good. Most importantly, be patient with yourself – Rome wasn’t built in a day and your soon-to-be fine-as-f*ck self may not either, but it’s absolutely worth the investment.
If you’re looking for more resources on whole health and wellness, my girl Molly has got your back. Check out what she’s up to here. If bodywork/massage are more up your ally, Kate has got you covered.