What is healthy? I think the first thing that comes to most people’s minds with being healthy is wanting to lose weight. Maybe it is the last 10 lbs after just having a baby or getting back to your perceived ideal body weight before a big event. Being healthy can just be getting back on track with food and trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. It can also be just wanting to get into better shape, increase muscle mass, or just get into a regular exercise routine. Then there is striving to hit a goal like running your first marathon or climbing to the top of that 14er mountain you always wanted to. However my question is what if you are doing all of the right things, eating well, working out daily, getting enough sleep, but is it possible you could still not be healthy?
This is the new question I have been asking myself recently. I would say I eat healthy 80% of the time. I work out daily, sometimes even twice a day if I am being honest with everyone. I try to go to bed early every night in order to get enough sleep. So why would I be questioning if I am healthy? Well let me explain. Over the last 6-9 months I found my life started to get a little stressful. We all run into this as adults right. Where all of a sudden things you were not expecting just smack you in the face and all of a sudden you feel like you are paddling upstream and are just doing your best to maintain a balance. We all figure out ways to cope with the added life stress, for some that is with food, others it may be shopping, but for me it is exercise. I exercise to relieve stress and to put me in a good mental state. The more stressed I become the more I want to move my body. This is not a bad thing, except you have to make sure you are balancing out your energy expenditure with enough food in order to sustain the new added activity.
Through the years I have become a lot better at balancing eating what I know my body needs with what my body craves in order to not binge. I am not perfect and I know learning this balancing act will be ongoing for me, but at least as long as I continue to make progress that is really what is important. So again, where am I going with this. I found over the last 9 months the one thing I was not doing was eating enough to support my additional movement and exercise. Without trying to I ended up losing a few pounds.
What is a few pounds right? Well for someone already at the bottom of their weight range a few pounds can make a big difference. Once I lost the few pounds unintentionally it created a viscous cycle in my head. For someone who has trained themselves for years that weight loss is a good thing and weight gain is bad, seeing a lower number on the scale felt like a new accomplishment even though I had gotten to a weight that I knew was not healthy for my body or sustainable. I had a few close people in my life come and tell me that I had gotten to that “scary skinny” place and wanted to make sure I was aware. Let me just say now how much I love having people in my life that will tell me those hard things to hear.
So what does this all mean? It means we spend a lot of time focusing on how losing weight, eating healthy, and exercising more are all healthy things. Yes they are. Being healthy can also be listening to your body and learning when to pull it back. Right now for the first time in almost 4 years I am actually learning how to accept gaining weight as a good thing and that for me this is healthy. It continues to be interesting to me how much our mental state dictates our relationships with ourselves. Now having put back on those pounds I did not mean to lose I am more satisfied with my appearance. It is important to remind ourselves a number is only a number. At the end of the day it all comes down to how we feel. I am still a work in progress, but wanted to share my story.