Bringing the Simplicity and Balance Back to Healthy
When people learn that I'm passionate about my health, they imagine that I spend all of my time eating avocados, repeating uplifting mantras and shopping at Farmer's Markets. When I started my journey towards better health, I too believed that that was what healthy looked like. I thought that healthy meant being on my best behavior all the time, especially when others were around to observe me. Luckily, I've moved beyond that harmful way of thinking. I know understand that health is a personal journey and I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I don't always have the energy to meal-prep for 2.5 hours or the discipline to wake up for an early morning workout and you know what? That's okay.
I used to feel guilty about not being healthy 100% of the time. I thought that being healthy was a full-time job with zero vacation days. It isn't. I recently shifted my mindset and it has made all of the difference!
What I've learned in the past few months is that I prefer balance. I prefer to indulge occasionally rather than restrict myself entirely from food or habits that don't align with a healthy lifestyle. I like to live by the 80/20 ratio, which means I eat, exercise and practice self care 80% of the time. To be honest, there are days when even 80% feels like too much work. So how do I stay healthy even when I don't feel like it?
It's not about eating greens at every single meal or going to the gym constantly. If you're struggling to find that balance between being healthy and being real to your true self, I've been there. It's draining and you feel like you're efforts and sacrifices are never enough. Healthy shouldn't feel restrictive or exhausting. It should enliven your life. It should bring you joy. Check out these simple strategies that I use to make being healthy feel more like a pleasure and less like a chore.
1. One Thing Every Day
I commit to at least one action that will improve my health every single day. I might prepare a nutritious meal, read a health article, watch a documentary or listen to a health-based podcast. I recently discovered Ashley James' podcast, Learn True Health, and I've binged listened to episodes on topics ranging from vaccines to willpower (love this podcast)! The simple habit of committing to one thing every day helped me to take my health journey one day at a time. I no longer feel pressured to eat all the kale, read every nutrition label or drink every detox water. I don't feel guilty if I miss a self-care Sunday. Essentially, I know that being healthy is a marathon and not a sprint.
2. Be Intentional on Social Media
While social media can help to inspire you along your health journey, it can also leave you feeling inadequate and riddled with anxiety to be perfect. I experienced the downside of social media earlier this year. As I was scrolling down my Instagram newsfeed, I noticed that I was following women and brands whose version of healthy was completely unattainable. The kind of profiles where cooking a colorful plant-based meal, watering succulent plants, going to a hot yoga class, applying a clay mask and indulging in a candle-lit bath are an everyday occurrence. Sounds exhausting right? This became the ideal for me and I wanted so much to be just as healthy and engaged in self-care as the people I was following. The only problem was that I could never actually master it. Health became an evasive concept that was always out of reach. So, I decided to unfollow everyone who lacked substance and authenticity. Sure it was nice to look at beautifully filtered photos, but that's all it was - a filtered photo. After my purge, I took my time to find and follow people/brands who were inspiring. Those who had a holistic approach to health. Those who viewed food as a way to heal the body, not deprive it. Those who know that mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Once I began using social media intentionally, I stopped feeling the pressure to accept an unrealistic and shallow definition of healthy.
3. Get some Perspective
I constantly remind myself that being healthy is more than just looking good. Being healthy is about small, everyday habits that make me feel alive and well. The purpose of living a healthy lifestyle is to move with ease, breath better, be adventurous, have enough energy to run a marathon, fight disease, increase my levels of happiness and for peace of mind. When I decided that being healthy was no longer about external factors or likes on Instagram, but instead about longevity and vitality, I became excited to make healthier choices! Getting perspective is essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle that holds weight.
Do you sometimes struggle with finding the balance to live healthy and be true to yourself? What strategies do you use to overcome it?
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