What no one tells you as a child, is that there is a very individual journey for us in life of finding our own unique version of health. I think the world mostly tells us that ‘healthy’ has a narrow definition that’s some conglomeration of kale salads, yoga, organic fruit, perfect self control, crossfit, juicing, white teeth, abs, shopping at Wholefoods, and being a size 4-6. But no.
In the same way there’s no one size fits all in clothing, there isn’t one in eating, or fitness, mentality, body, or lifestyle. We now know that the idea of a perfect body can cripple us and we need to expand it, but I actually think too the idea that there is a perfect version of ‘healthy’ can cripple us so easily as well. There’s no one perfect way, it’s a personal thing.
My least favorite question ever is: “Is ________ healthy?” It makes us think there’s a one size fits all and removes the option for an individual journey where we celebrate progress not perfection. What might be unhealthy for one person is great for another, and what might be backtracking for you, might be a great step forward for me.
As I hit thirty I’ve been reflecting on my own journey which feels like it’s taken most of my thirty years. Just this last year I think I’ve (finally) landed somewhere that feels like true health in body, mind, lifestyle, and way of eating. Maybe 30 years is a long time, but it’s been in this most recent journey of post partum saggy skin and motherhood that I feel I’ve actually defined what rounded and balanced health is (and isn’t) in my life.
As a mum with limited time sometimes I think I should steal spare moments to do 10 crunches, or I should lunge while holding my baby, and I’ve actually even felt bad when I don’t do youtube workouts on vacation. But I don’t want the body that that would take. For me that lifestyle wouldn’t be all around whole health.
I’ve discovered I like chocolate every day and I’m going to eat it that often, and I prefer to keep my workouts to specific workout times. I’ve discovered I feel best when I move daily, so I do carve out time to workout but I’ve really learned to listen to my body, and I rest when I know I need rest. I’m so good with all that, and I’ll take the body it gives me.
I’ve discovered that cheat meals aren’t my deal, and neither are rules. I eat what I want, but I know myself and I now define ‘want’ very holistically and with my priorities in mind.
I’ve tried cutting out big food groups but I’m finding more and more that healthy for me looks like everything in moderation, but then by everything I mean everything in the real food world. I’ve tried the 10 mini meals a day thing and then done perpetual pregnancy snacking, but discovered that actually, I run best on three hearty whole food meals eaten slowly while taking a break in my day to stop and enjoy life. I’ve also discovered that mindless eating is my vice, and that the hour before dinner is when I get to engage self control. And I know that using it will always make dinner happier, and let me be who I want to be.
I’ve learned that I do have mini meltdowns about my body, but they usually disappear in a day if I speak kindly to myself. I’ve tried massive restriction and long workouts after indulgent weekends but I’ve found that actually just going back to routine and real food lets my body find itself again best. But I’ve also discovered that indulgent only works for me if it’s clean food style indulgent, because the feeling after not-clean food just isn’t worth the momentary fun of eating it.
I’ve discovered that I need protein and fat, and if I don’t get it my hair falls out, so I stopped being scared of avocados and I pay attention to getting good quality versions of both.
I’ve discovered why I care about taking care of myself and I keep that close to motivate me, but I also know that when my I eat clean, real food I have so much more energy and life, and remembering that alone will always keep me motivated.
I hate failing, but I’ve found that ‘fail’ shouldn’t be a word in this journey because each ‘fail’ has only ever taught me something about me that’s served me from that point on.
And I’ve learned that no one day is going to screw up my body or my goals or my life, so sometimes I just have to shake it off and I sit in sweat pants with my husband and have a second extra slice of cake and a glass of wine.
I’ve learned that freedom is important, but that freedom isn’t always saying yes to everything and anything but often it’s actually having the power to say no.
I’ve been wondering how different life could be if we knew that it was a worthwhile and beautiful investment to find what our own bodies need without thinking that not knowing is a failure. And also to know that it’s ok if that takes time. So can I tell you that now? Go on the journey! There is no one size fits all, no calorie count that fits all, no answer to ‘is this healthy?’ that’s right for everyone. You have to find you and then let that evolve as you move forward. And you’re worth however long it takes to wrestle with it, and find the answers for your own real life!
You’ve got this.