I’m still participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Yesterday I wrote about G-Spots and Pleasure, which can also be found on the next blog listing. I was recently asked to write about the quandary: What is healthy? Without further ado, I’ll address this.
With the pressure of looking fit and seeing people posing in front of bathroom and gym mirrors on their instagram feeds, it’s really easy to get caught up in self body shaming. There are so many different eating plans, diets, exercise regiments that it’s challenging to choose the one that fits YOUR needs. How do you know if you should be vegan, paleo or gluten-free? What professionals and bloggers do you listen to? How much exercise should you get? Should you do CrossFit? Yoga? How many times a week is appropriate to workout? Is it best to wear a fitbit wrist bracelet and count your steps? Does calculating calories help?
Social media has made the health and fitness world accessible to people across the globe, and now I can have teams of people participating in the same yoga challenges or view my selfies and comment with ease. Like you, I’m negatively affected seeing women with a thigh gap or men who are completely pretty. I’m inspired by before and after weight loss photos. I’m curious if the 30-day booty or ab challenges will really give me a luscious, round butt or a washboard stomach, or if I’ll just get tendonitis from over working one body part.
I’ve gone through phases when I was fully paleo (and crazy). Um, how about 3-4 years of playing around with different iterations of no grain and no sugar to overdoing it with dates (but they’re paleo!)? Or what about the six month period when I did an accountability program with a good friend and signed up to do 9-10 workouts a week? I remember one of my CrossFit coaches pulling me aside and asking me why I was (over) training. He told me, after we ran a 200-mile relay race together that I looked really tired. I reported that I was training for life. He then said my training was not functional, and in life I needed to be able to walk up stairs. I was too sore to even sit on a chair at my kitchen table! Yeah, that wasn’t healthy.
It wasn’t healthy when I fainted during a 3-hour workout and nearly dropped a bar bell on my head. In my defense, I had eaten right before working out, but the effort I put in that day for the gauntlet was grueling. These were all things I did in the name of health. Was I really trying to be healthy or was I trying to look good naked?
It seems to me that health in America is tied to beauty.
And both health and beauty become competitions to see who can be the better vegetarian or the fittest person on Earth. Who can squat more or have a shorter intermittent fasting window? Never mind listening to our bodies. We are often short-sighted when it comes to health, thinking only of our immediate goals of looking good for summer or getting more likes on social media.
I grew up with a healthy body image. Yeah, there were some aspects to my physical self I didn’t love, but overall, I was accepting. And then when I started working out 5-6 days a week, I became super critical and bought into the fads and pressures of the culture around me. I hate to speak ill of this time in my life, because it was a time I felt very strong and connected to a group of people who shared similar goals. It was a period of time when I felt like I belonged. But when I noticed my soreness not going away, I realized I needed to cut back. I had difficulty cutting back, however. I love pushing myself to extreme levels — and find it exceptionally fun to challenge my skills and strength.
I’ve had to reset my own views of health. I work hard by not being too extreme, by making self-enforced rest days, by not beating myself up if I don’t exercise everyday or if I drink an extra hot chocolate.
I’ve noticed that my health is all about how I feel. Do I have ample and sufficient energy to do what I like doing? Are my triglyceride levels at a good place? When I see my acupuncturist, does she tell me I’m deficient in iron? When everything is functioning well, that’s when I know I’m healthy. And when I’m healthy, beauty glows from within, not from surface-level standards.
For those of you who are challenged by health, fitness, and beauty, I suggest taking an inventory of how you feel. Notice your joints when you walk or run, notice your diet and determine if it’s balanced with enough greens. Most Americans do not eat enough vegetables and we’re deficient in iron, magnesium, and potassium. How’s your water intake? How’s your sleep? How’s your mood? Check these off your list before worrying about your bikini-ready body.
Please visit my website at Coaching By Nina Rubin.
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