Lately I have been focusing a lot on my own wellness. I have been doing yoga, I started meditating, and I am slowing down and taking some time to cook for myself (although I have a nicely packaged box of prepped food arrive weekly at my doorstep). Sure, if someone was to look at me they would just naturally assume that I am healthy. Mainly because I am fit and I can ride my bike up any mountain or wake up on any one day and run a marathon. But what does “healthy” really mean? Is it working 60 hour work weeks and living out of your car? Is it constantly eating on the go? Is it having a glass of wine, or two, every single night because the anxieties and stresses of the day are too much to handle? Is it taking anti-inflammatory medication because your body is always in pain? Is it never sitting still because you are afraid to be alone with yourself and your thoughts?
When I was in my 20s all I wanted was to be thin, because in my mind thin was healthy. I battled with eating disorders, body image disorders and had an unhealthy relationship with exercise. I pushed myself to limits to distract myself. I told myself that I was doing Ironman because I wanted to accomplish something incredible, however when I look back at it now, 10 years later, I see that I was running away from myself. I was using marathons, triathlons and other weekly races to give my addiction a purpose. I am not saying that anyone who challenges themselves like I did is doing it for the same reasons I was but it’s possible that there are some people who are/were in a similar situation.
Although there is still a big push in society for women’s bodies to fit some elusive “ideal”, to have it all together, more and more of us are standing up for ourselves and learning that “healthy” means something different. I am not saying that we shouldn’t challenge ourselves physically because nothing excites me more than accomplishing something I never thought possible. What I am saying is that we need to broaden what the word “healthy” means to us. Yesterday a client said to me, “You know, I realized that when I take care of myself I feel good about myself”. And it is cyclical. Start with a healthy breakfast and you are less likely to have a midmorning, sugary snack. Meditate for 10 minutes when you wake up and your head, and mind, will be clearer and stronger to take on the rest of the day. Pack a lunch and you are less likely to run to the food court, starving. Bring your workout clothes to work and you are less likely to skip your workout. Do yoga once a week and your body will feel better. Limit your screen time and your social media time, and you might start to feel less anxious about your own life and accomplishments. And as we feel better it becomes easier to do all of those things which means we will continue to feel better, and continue to do more to take care of ourselves. See? You take one step, get the ball rolling, and then you just keep it rolling. When it stops you just need to give it a little kick again.
May seems to be a month of challenges. I am seeing exercise challenges, nutrition challenges, running challenges and yoga challenges pop up all over Vancouver. Perhaps companies are trying to capitalize on our desires for a beach body, but I wanted to challenge you to something different for the month of May. I want you to pick one thing that you are struggling with, that does not have anything to do with being skinny, and work on changing that habit. Perhaps you start your day with a healthy breakfast, or you take up mediation. Or maybe all you do is block off 20 minutes each day to read. It could be drinking more water, or cooking a new recipe each week. Pick something that is going to kick-start your health ball and get it rolling and then take a moment at the end of the month to see if that one change lead you to any other changes. I will be shocked if it doesn’t.