Too fat. Too skinny. Tall and slender. Short with broad shoulders. Washboard abs. Big bum. What does health look like to the naked eye? In my community I preach that health looks different for everyone. The act of being healthy can mean different things to different people. I don’t believe there is one way to look or a specific body shape and type everyone should attain. Each individual body has a different point of homeostasis and our bodies all require different things to function optimally. So, it would only make sense to find out what works right for your body instead of aspiring to achieve something that won’t make you feel your best, right?
Social media can be a dangerous place to spend time when it comes to having a positive relationship with your own body. Coming from a fitness point of view, think about how many people we see working out shirtless (males and females) and in revealing outfits. Now think about how well received those photos are. Most times the photos where we look the most revealing actually get the best traction in terms of likes and comments. When we display our bodies looking ‘ideal’ we seem to get more attention. But, who said that having a flat stomach was the epitome of health? And that if you don’t you won’t get as many likes on your photo or be considered as healthy?
The reason I say that it can be dangerous is because not everyone views that ‘ideal’ look as motivation. Some may find that intimidating or stressful if they don’t feel their bodies level up. On the other hand, some might actually feel their best and look nothing like that. Who is to say that we aren’t at our most optimal if we don’t achieve that look?
Often times this perception of optimal can be linked to weight - when we can lose a certain amount we will look and feel certain way. Let’s not forget there are so many other ways to measure health! Weight is one component and should not be the main focus. When it comes to health these are the things I measure instead of weight:
Energy levels. Am I tired all the time? Do I have steady energy throughout the day or does it go up and down?
Sleep levels. Am I getting an adequate amount of sleep each night? Do I wake up energized or do I feel exhausted each morning?
Movement. Am I capable of moving my body in the ways I want to pain free? Remember for this one it doesn’t always have to look like a session in the gym, it could simply be a walk around the block with your dog.
Nourishment. Do you practice consuming whole foods on a regular basis? How is your relationship with food? Is it restrictive? Do you practice the 80/20 rule?
Stress levels. How is the state of your mental health? Do you have strategies to manage stress?
SO many things can add up to one’s health before mentioning their weight or physical appearance. Although it is perfectly fine to have goals linked to weight and physical appearance, that stuff most often sorts itself out when you have the above list in check. Focus on how you feel first, always. It is an inside out approach - once the inside is working best, the outside will show for it in the best way your body can. There is more to life than the numbers or appearances we see and it usually has a lot with how we feel and how we make those around us feel. Next time you find yourself overwhelmed with the number on the scale or the way an image makes you feel about yourself, look back at the list above and remain focused on the other factors that add up to health.
Yours in self-discovery,