The other day my ‘little cousin’ (who is now in grade 12) asked me to answer some questions for her English project and it was interesting reading what she was asking. I got the sense that she, and maybe her peers, have a one or two dimensional view of health so I did my best to answer the questions with as much depth and truth as I could. After sending them off she responded with a text that said the following: ‘Just read what you wrote, and it was amazing. Opened my mind about healthy living as well. Thank you for putting so much depth and detail into those answers’. After rereading the answers last night I thought they might be good to share with my LaineyGossip family. So here goes.
Would you define yourself as a healthy person?
I think this question could be tough to answer for a lot of people. What is health? Is it being free of disease? Is it being emotionally healthy? Is it having things in life that you enjoy? Or, is it the way that society continues to tell us (especially women) to look. I would say yes, I am a healthy person. I love my job, I have hobbies that keep me active and fit, I am free of disease and my body is strong and free of pain. I enjoy eating nutritious foods but I also enjoy the stuff that perhaps isn’t so good for us: chips, chocolate, red wine, and French fries. I may not be a size 2 or 6 or 8 but my body is just a vessel for the spirit it carries. So yes, I’m healthy but I think a lot of people who would answer yes to this question actually would not be considered healthy and a lot of people who would answer no actually are healthy.
How has healthy living changed your views on life as well as your identity?
In my teens I was obsessed with being skinny, constantly reading magazine articles that promised me a six-pack or cellulite free thighs. I got a job when I was 15 only so I could pay for a gym membership because I wanted to be skinny as that is what healthy was to me. In my late teens and early 20s I struggled with bulimia and other disordered eating issues. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of much because I wasn’t pretty or skinny. But, when I decided to use my body as it was meant to be used and forget about what it looked like in a bikini, my outlook on life changed. As did my identity. No longer was my self-worth based on what size I was buying at the department store. It was based on how balanced I was, and how happy I was. In my late 30s I now can say I love my body. I love how it does warrior 2 in yoga and I love how it flies down a mountain on a mountain bike. I love the curves that fill up my clothes and the little lines that are starting to appear on my face. They are reminders that I’m blessed to be alive and living in such an amazing part of the world. I don’t fret about what the scale says or how I look naked. I don’t feel guilty for drinking a bottle of wine with my girlfriends or grabbing happy hours more than I should. So yes, looking at life differently with a different view of what ‘healthy’ is has helped me to become a much better and happier person.
Have you always been a healthy person?
Another tough question. I don’t think it was until my Dad died that I started to become healthy. Of course I was always ‘healthy’ in regards to BMI, but if you were to look deeper I would say I wasn’t healthy until recently. I suffered with poor self-esteem, disordered eating, and an obsession with exercise. I struggled in relationships and never felt good enough in anything I did. But when my dad died I was forced to look at life and health in a deeper way. Not just the physical aspects of health but the mental aspects. I went to counselling and I read lots and lots of self-help books (especially Brene Brown’s). I’ve started practicing yoga regularly as well as meditation. My obsession with exercise has subsided and I work out now because it makes me feel good, not to make myself skinny. A funny thing is that every time in the last 4 or so years that I’ve been depressed (and when I’m depressed I lose a ton of weight) people come up to me and tell me how amazing I look. I politely say thank you but if they only knew how dead I was inside. I think our society has a really messed up idea of what health actually is. When I’m happy and loving life I’m heavier. But I’ve learned to love it because I’m walking around with confidence and a smile on my face.
Do you believe in the saying you are what you eat?
That saying needs to go away. People should eat to live. That’s it. Eat whatever you want but with the understanding that everything should be consumed in moderation. You are what you eat creates massive problems with disordered eating. People need to disassociate their identity and self-worth with what they put into their bodies. In fact as I write this I’m drinking some delicious white wine and having some kettle chips. And I feel great!!
What do you tell others to guide them into a healthy way of living?
This is what I do for a job. Every single day I help people find their healthy lifestyle. But the thing is, there isn’t a recipe or set of instructions to guide someone to becoming healthy. It’s not cookie cutter as everyone is different. Some people are vegan, some paleo. Some hate running and some love it. Some wouldn’t dare do a yoga class because it’s ‘easy’ yet it’s one of the hardest workouts I do (and I’ve done a lot of hard workouts in my life thus far). Healthy living needs to work with everyone on an individual basis. Your life changes yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily and in that, so do your responsibilities and priorities. New moms would kill for 30 minutes to spend on themselves and I’m sure when they finally get that they are not going for a run or meal prepping, even if that is who they were before becoming a mom. Still others will have a difficult time making an immediate switch to healthy living. Their lifestyle habits have been built over decades and things need to be changed slowly. You can’t tell the same thing to each person and expect it to resonate. Healthy living needs to be approached on a per person basis.
Society puts WAY TOO much pressure on both men and women to live these perfect lives and as much as we all pretend we are all living that way most likely we are not. Being healthy is being happy and loving all of the person you are and treating that person how they deserve to be treated. Loving them as much as you love others.