What does the word healthy mean to you? Most of us think of marathon runners or Instagram models with glowing skin. An instant mental image of someone who does yoga at 5 in the morning and only eats organic tofu and brown rice. We conjure up the idea of the kind of person who follows strict protocols and thrives on self-discipline.
The truth is that health is as personal as it is individual. What can be healthy for one person may not be for another. Some people flourish on gluten-free or vegan diets, while others find these limiting and frustrating. Others may feel invigorated by intense cardio, but someone else may get more benefit from yoga. A unique mix of your own body, lifestyle, and goals is the right balance for your health.
Maybe you know someone who suffers from chronic migraines. If you have ever spent a day curled up in pain, you know how debilitating it can be. To the migraine sufferer, something as simple as a pain-free life becomes the ultimate health goal.
For someone trying to avoid knee surgery, the focus becomes to strengthen and rehabilitate the knee to be functional. Your health goals ought to fit your precise needs for exactly where you are.
Too often, we associate health with a specific diet or a number on the scale instead of the process. We start a walking plan because we know this makes us feel good and that there are real benefits to moving our bodies most days of the week. We start with all good intentions, but when a month goes by, and the scale hasn’t moved, we somehow feel disappointed. We let our discouragement convince us to stop walking when weight loss was never the point.
The truth is that walking is good for us regardless of any number. When we focus on how walking lowers our stress and strengthens our knees instead of on the scale, our motivation is easier to maintain. Weight is a measure of the force of gravity pulling down on us. It is not a measure of our self-worth or accomplishments. It is certainly not a measure of how hard we have worked or all that we have achieved.
There is real value in doing something good for you simply because it makes you feel good or improves your life somehow. Most of us agree that eating fruits and vegetables is generally considered healthy. If you think that maybe you aren’t getting enough, if your body isn’t feeling its best, then eating more is good. It doesn’t matter if the scale moved. What matters is that you know that you are treating yourself with care.
We can debate how much water you need to drink, but I think we can agree that water is pretty vital for life. Don’t worry if it’s eight glasses a day every day or half of your body weight or whatever measure they are using this week. Focus on doing more than you did before. If you are someone who drinks little to no water, see how adding sixteen ounces a day makes you feel. Keep going until you feel like you’ve found a balance.
The only person you ever need to compare yourself to is, well, yourself. In other words, compare how you feel eating one way to how you were eating before or how you feel after adding yoga to your life as to how you felt previously. Take note of what is working for you and what isn’t. It doesn’t matter what your best friend is doing or what types of food your cousin is eating. What matters is how your body is responding. Does your stomach feel calmer? Your skin more hydrated? Are you in less pain? What is it that you need to focus on at this moment?
When you separate the idea of your health from what you weigh or what you used to weigh, there is a fundamental shift in thinking. It allows your health to be about finding what is good for YOU. You are encouraged to pursue what is good for you regardless of whether or not the scale moves. What you need to build a healthy life may be radically different from what those around you need. If they want to pursue marathon training, that is an excellent thing for them to do, but if you want to focus on drinking more water or adding a twenty-minute walk to your day, that is also a great thing to do for yourself.
True self-care isn’t all hot baths and luxury items. Sometimes, it is as simple as finding out what you need to feel healthy. It really is about what you learn along the way when it comes to your health journey. You don’t have to learn alone either. Join us in The Mystical Kitchen.