March 14, 2011 health is supposed to be easy, right?
the other day, gena, of choosing raw, wrote a post in which she quotes a friend of hers bemoaning the fact that he could mess up something as “simple” as being healthy. “mess up” essentially refers to anything that might sabotage your road to a healthier life style.
supposedly, we all know eating a family size bag of chips isn’t “healthy”. we all know eating a half dozen oreos in front of the tv at ten at night isn’t “healthy”. neither is washing down a big mac with a soda. or overindulging at the buffet.
“healthy” means eating all your vegetables. and then some. “healthy” is working out at least a half hour every day. “healthy” is passing on dessert. “healthy” is fitting into your skinny jeans, your bikinis, your short-shorts.
i use quotation marks because health is personal. health is objective. we all have our own opinions on health and what it should look like, what it should be like. regardless, health is supposed to be simple but, as gena so eloquently underlined, it’s not. at least for a lot of people it’s not. health and healthy living can be challenging. and i want to know why. why do we feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment about our bodies and about our food choices? why do we tell the waitress “i’m going to but i really shouldn’t…” when she asks if we want fries. why shouldn’t we? because it’s not “healthy”? according to who?
as a society i feel as if our attitude towards health is a jumble of opinions. i constantly feel pulled in opposing directions: low carb! high carb! no carb! but wait, there’s low fat, high fat, no sugar, no fruit, all fruit, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian. there’s run, don’t run, yogayogayoga, no! lift weights!, embrace the treadmill, shun the treadmill.
where does it end?
where do our real opinions about health begin and our informed opinions of health end? or do they consistently clash against one another?
to me, healthy is eating balanced meals. health is eating that fucking cookie if you want it. it’s feeling happy and content with life a good chunk of the time. health includes a normal amount of exercise that feels right, not forced. most importantly, to me, health is self-love.
i know what health to me looks like. hell, i know what it feels like. yet, i’m not sure i’m living up to my personal standards of health. in fact, i’m sure i’m “messing up” health. the past year and a half has been a complete health overhaul. i went pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, eating only carrots-hummus-broccoli-crackers-tarian. i went no running, running thiry minutes, running forty-five minutes, running over an hour and working out more later that night. i went gluten free, sugar free, apple free, carb free. basically, i ended up everywhere but healthy.
now, i can chant “health, health, health” all day but “blow it” anyway. i can declare i am going to eat balanced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners but do nothing of the sort and instead find myself hoarding a jar of almond butter or peering into my fridge for something else to eat on top of my dinner, something i never did even when i was “unhealthy”. clearly, there’s an issue. clearly, i can talk all this talk but never seem to walk the fucking walk. clearly, my dear readers, i am failing at this whole health business.
i think i’ve allowed too many outside opinions about health to influence and re-shape my own. our bodies are smart cookies. they send us cues we often ignore. and my body is different than your body and the body of the nutritionist writing an article on health for cosmo and it is different than the body of the pin-thin girl in the drive through at work who orders a venti white mocha and a sausage sandwich everyday. i am so tired of not owning and accepting my body for what it is. i feel all mixed up and confused now. do i want to be vegan? or do i want to be vegan to avoid certain foods? do i want to be sugar free? or do i want to be sugar free because i don’t trust myself around foods with sugar? do i want to work out every day? or do i work out because i’m “supposed” to?
the other day candace said something to me that struck a chord. it was something along the lines of “zoe, you’re really healthy. you are probably the healthiest person i know. but you should do things you want to do, not things you think you’re “supposed” to do.”
and you know, i think she’s right. in fact, i know she’s right. i think i need to take a step back and re-evaluate why i do the things i do. there should be no “good” and “bad” foods. there should be no reason i binge and restrict. there should be no “right” way to exercise. there should only be “i enjoy this” and “i don’t enjoy this.” you know what i enjoy? being healthy for me — on my own terms.
right now my relationship with health needs to be addressed. it needs to be mended. there are some serious gaps and they’re only continuing to grow. and as a woman on a mission for self-love, i think this is a really big step in the right direction. baby-steps are key here, though. i’m too much of a go big or go home type of gal and so far that’s only ever back fired for me. patience and more patience are key here. and deep breaths. lots of them.
so here’s to rediscovering and redefining personal health — one little baby step at a time.
what do you think — are we so health crazy that we’ve lost touch with the true meaning of health? is there a true meaning of health? and what does health look like to you anyway?let me know!