I’m about a decade into my “body love” process. I use the word process because “journey” (which I often use, as is on the shirt) implies a destination or an ending. I am finding that each day brings about new challenges, enlightenments and successes that require adaptation which is indicative of a process rather than journey. But, to each his own 😉
One of the recent enlightenments I have encountered is with the word “healthy”. My version of that has shifted vastly in the past decade. It’s gone from cutting out all sugar, to counting calories, to controlling grams of carbs and fats, to doing “clean eating”, to living Paleo…the list goes on and on. Each one of those was, in my mind, the healthiest thing I could do for myself.
My obsession with being healthy came as a result of a number of things, one of which was watching my mom succumb to cancer at age 44. She was overweight, stressed, ate junk food and never exercised and that is a big part of why the cancer won. This motivated me in a big way to be healthier to try and stack the deck in my favor. I realize now that “healthy” or not, I can still get cancer (duh Kim). That reality has helped me shift my mindset greatly.
I have allowed the word healthy to dictate my choices about food, exercise and lifestyle. In doing that, I have lost the ability to trust my body to do what is healthiest for me. I think things like “I have to eat protein with this meal.” “I have to do at least one heavy lifting set each week.” “I have to do better at managing my stress.” “I will be healthier if I do yoga and sprint each week.” I do and think all of this in the name of being “healthy”.
I have eaten more than I need to because the food was “healthy” food. I worked out when I didn’t feel like or I was tired because exercise is “healthy”. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on supplements to make my body more “healthy”. And I’ve used waaaaay too much time listening to podcasts and reading books about pursuing “health”.
I realize now (yes, I am a little late to the party) that it is not all about being healthy. (My friends, family members and clients are all sitting there reading this with eyes wide and mouths open). Yes, health is important and something I would like to have, but first I need to redefine what health means FOR ME. Not what experts or culture says and not what that ripped man/woman on Pinterest or Instagram says.
I want to learn to listen to the little voice inside that tells me when to eat and how much. I want to trust the prompts that say move this way and this hard. I want to feel the peace that comes from sitting still and processing through the struggles I face. And I want to trust that when I crave something, I will have the ability to do what is “healthy” and right for my body and not just ignore it or indulge.
I want to trust that the image in the mirror is intuitively seeking out what is best for me- whether it is in a season of chaos or calm, busyness or rest, feast or famine. That is the kind of body trust and self-love I want to find in this process of learning, changing and growing.
What does “healthy” look like for you at this point in your process?