Friday, September 11, 2015

Being Healthy Goes Way Beyond Body Image

Good health habits are important to living a balanced and happy life, wouldn't you agree? I feel like somewhere in our culture the value of being healthy and the desire to have an attractive figure meshed together and the motivation behind healthy eating has become a broken one with nebulous notions. Let's start first with confessions, because we should probably get those out of the way. I love sugar, a little too much. I eat more ice cream than I dare to confess, I have a strong love for chocolate Ghirardelli brownies, and M+M's seem to be my weakness. I often go through phases where I know I need to eat healthier, so I drop all the sugar at once and I step away from the chocolate. It's not easy, and that's why I never succeed for too long.

When I decide to go off of sugar, it's usually for a specific reason. Sometimes it's because I want to see if it will help with battles of acne, other times it's because of mental health reasons, and sometimes it's just because I feel it's the right thing to do in my life at that time. The problem lies when I mention to others that I'm off of sugar this week then all the comments start coming; "Your metabolism is fast enough that it doesn't matter for you anyways." "You don't have any pounds to lose." "You can handle sugar, I'm the one that should be off of it." Wait, what? First of all, I have my own, personal reasons for being off of sugar, and second, why is it wrong to strive for a healthy life style even if you aren't overweight?

I've been the more slender side my whole life, I've heard many jokes from being too skinny to people actually asking if I had an eating disorder. In fact, after I graduated high school is when I started eating more unhealthy because I just wanted to put on weight so people would stop talking. I realized I was becoming unhealthy and that was not the right type of weight I wanted to gain. So I decided to make a change. At the end of 2008, I officially went off of soda and fast food and I haven't looked back since. As I share this on dates or with other people, I get a lot of flak for it. Now I don't understand this for two reasons, one, isn't it ultimately my choice?; and two, shouldn't we be encouraging and complimenting others for their decision at a healthy lifestyle?

Why should only those who are considered "overweight" be praised for the healthy decisions they are making? Why do the 'skinny girls' get such a bad reputation for trying to do something good for their body? I strongly believe our culture has some mixed up ideas about what it means to be healthy. Healthy isn't a certain jean size or a number on the scale. Healthy looks different on everyone, in many various ways. Different people choose healthy for several different reasons, but is the reason really everyone else's business? What if when we saw someone making a healthy decision, no matter if it's just one time or daily, we praised them for it instead of making them feel like they aren't qualified to be in the "healthy club"?

I understand eating disorders are very real, but just because someone is skinny or they aren't eating all the calories and carbs you think they should be partaking of, doesn't mean they have one. The truth is, just because a girl chooses to eat healthy doesn't mean she is worried about her body image. I don't eat healthy and exercise to change my image, I do it to prove to myself that I can. I do it to get healthy and to take charge of my body and my life. I do it to increase my daily capacities as far as increase in energy and the ability to be strong and happy. I do it for my future husband and my future children because a healthy lifestyle is something I would like to live by when I have a family of my own. I do it to prevent illness now and in the future. I do it because it's my choice. 

I know you mean well with the comments and jokes of having no need to live healthy because there isn't too many pounds to lose, but it can sometimes be demeaning. Being healthy goes way beyond body image. Healthy shouldn't be about what we look like, it shouldn't be about self objectification. It should be a personal decision, made for personal reasons. How you look and the curves that you do or don't have shouldn't be anyone else's business but your own. Let's encourage and lift each other more for the healthy decisions that we decide to make, and let's focus less on the appearance that comes from living healthy. Healthy should be about being strong and being happy. It should be about taking care of our bodies because we cherish them for the abilities they give us.

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