Welcome to the second post in the Components of Healthy Living series! If you haven’t read part one, I highly recommend doing so as I will be referring back to some of the principles mentioned there. Part one of this series is all about acceptance which is the foundation of these principles, in my opinion.
Part two of the components of healthy living series is all about goals. Now, don’t go into overdrive thinking about all the goals you may have for your vision of a healthy life. Instead, we’re going to strip that down and I’m going to tell you what your goal needs to be. Crazy, right? Your goal needs to be health in general- mental and physical.
First, let’s touch on mental health. I am not a mental health professional. I do have a degree in psychology, so I know a bit about this stuff, but I am not licensed in any type of way. What I can say with certainty is that mental health is incredibly important when looking at a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to take care of yourself and make sure your habits aren’t causing issues in your life. I won’t expand too much into that because, again, I’m not a mental health professional but healthy living should never – I repeat, NEVER ever– make you feel bad about yourself.
Physical health is probably what most people think of when someone says “healthy living.” Physical health is important but, again, you cannot gauge physical health by appearance. Your goal needs to be balance and happiness. Eat foods that make your body feel good! If you want pizza, eat pizza. If you want a salad, get a salad. If you feel like you want a cookie but aren’t sure, hold off and see where you’re at in a few minutes. People say “food is fuel” and that is a true statement but I think that term is thrown around too much. Food is definitely fuel. You need carbs, fats, and protein for your body to function properly. But food is so much MORE than fuel. Food is enjoyable- and that isn’t a bad thing. I think society shames food as a pleasure experience way too much. You SHOULD enjoy the food you eat! Enjoying the food you eat will keep you from feeling deprived. No healthy lifestyle involves deprivation. Like I mentioned in part one, deprivation does nothing but send you into a place of guilt. The key to this is making sure you enjoy what you eat and choosing to stop eating when you are satisfied. Honoring hunger cues is very important when it comes to health and it is hard to get in tune with them if you’ve been dieting. It is possible to retrain yourself to feel those cues, however, it just takes some practice. One of the tricks I like to use is that if the food I’m eating doesn’t taste as good as it did when I started eating it, I may need to evaluate whether I’m still hungry or if I’m just eating because the food is in front of me. Practice mindfulness when eating, listen to your cravings, and the balance will come naturally.
Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s very important to note that you do not have to run 5 miles or go to CrossFit or lift weights for an hour in order for something to count as exercise. Move in ways you enjoy! Some days, I want to sweat a lot on the stair master or run a 5k. Other days I want to do a weight circuit. There are even days I just want to walk for an hour. No workout is better than the other! REPEAT THAT. You are not a better person the day you run 5 miles than you are the day you only want to walk 1 mile. Listen to your body. Move in a way that you enjoy. Some days you don’t want to go to the gym but you know you should. Go and decide what to do when you get there. If you’re sore and tired and you should go but you don’t want to, don’t go. Rest your body when it needs rest. You don’t have to burn 500 calories for the workout to be “worth it.”
The last thing I want to mention that I think is super important is that function should always be more important than aesthetics. Remember, your body will look the way it is meant to look when you take care of it. Accept what is (part one). If you are living a balanced lifestyle and taking care of your mental health, your body will come to the place it is supposed to be. Remember- accept your body for the way it is today.
In the next (and final) post of this Components of Healthy Living series, I’m going to walk you through putting all of this into practice and staying focused when diet culture surrounds us.
Question for you:
What’s one step you will take this week to start making overall health your goal, instead of weight loss?