Being healthy sometimes gets a bad rap.
I used to think that being physically and mentally fit meant turning into a tofu-eating, marathon-running, wheatgrass-drinking, Brand New Me.
But thank god being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean any of the above because:
I’ve had my own battles about going to the gym, my own self-imposed guilt trips that I don’t meditate nearly enough, and that somehow I’m a fraud because I enjoy instant ramen a little too much.
However, in my own experience to becoming stronger physically as well as creating a life I’m proud of, I’ve come to realize that living a fulfilling life has not so much to do with “turning” into your idealized best self but more about discovering your best self.
For instance, I never knew that I could actually be a runner. That girl who drank margaritas mid-jog now can run a 5K. That girl who hates gyms actually prefers to break a sweat doing vigorous yard work and biking outside. And even though I picked on wheatgrass, I love (almost) anything green in a smoothie.
So how did I discover my true healthy self?
For starters, I started unpeeling layers of myself that tended to weigh me down literally and figuratively.
I learned which foods enable my body to perform at its optimal level, and let go of the ones that didn’t.
How well your body creates energy, maintains your immune system and wards off illness are all a result of what you put into your body.
Food can either give you energy or take it away. The foods that are “bad” for you are the ones that literally make you feel heavier – physically in your gut, mentally, and even spiritually. Just as an incredibly complex smoothie can help you feel enlightened, a bag of Combos and a soda could plummet you to the lowest of lows by turning you into the hangriest person around. It’s all about discovering which foods make you feel like a 9 or 10 and those that don’t.
Next, I honored my true preferences on how I liked to move my body and exercise.
Do you detest running but love dance classes? Then happily forget the running shoes and put on your dancing ones. Does the idea of being stuck in traffic for 4 hours appeal to you more than lifting weights at a gym with fluorescent lights? Then say goodbye to gym memberships you never use and find something that really gets you going!
However you choose to add movement to your day, make it count and make it fun!
Last, I forgot all the stereotypes on what it looks like to be healthy and happy.
It’s easy to get caught up in images of perfect abs, that hot yoga instructor with an enviable body clad in Lululemon gear, or enlightened beings meditating peacefully on a mountain as the sun rises. All of these play into our judgement of what is “healthy”. I mean, these people are hot and look like they’ve got it all figured out, of course they’re happy, right?
But no, they’re just images, and even the seemingly perfect looking people have their own stories. Truth time: nobody is perfect.
As a wellness coach, I get tired of these images because they’re too busy portraying other people’s definitions of a strong mind and body. It’s superficial. It starts to feel generic and unapproachable. And when a value or goal seems unattainable, Discouragement starts to show up, along with its pals Disappointment and Feelings of Inadequacy.
But when you can let go of what you think you should look like and tap into what you want to feel like, everything changes.
The real compass to getting that healthy glow is finding the fun and appealing to your senses on a daily basis.
When you indulge your senses, you cultivate not only enjoyment, but that spark of interest in life. As this interest grows, you start to give things a chance. The effort to pay attention to your senses will affect your food choices, how you spend your time, and who you spend it with (or without!).
As you consistently follow your instincts and do what makes you feel energetic and positive, you will have shed those layers that were holding you down, and reveal the happiest and healthiest core of yourself.
This big reveal sounds pretty great, right? Which of the previous three ideas speaks the most to you when it comes to discovering your best healthy self? What can you do today to incorporate this idea into your life?