I’m only 23, but being a collegiate athlete, struggling with self-image, wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, I’ve welcomed and progressed through many a ‘decision/perspective/stance’ when it comes to living well. I’d like to share with you where I currently reside regarding the issue, my healthy manifesto:
- Remember how much of a phenomenon the human body is. Plainly. Designed intricately by God, created to walk, eat, move, drink, sleep, make more life (for us women). If you let yourself linger on the reality of the human body, it’s pretty amazing in and of itself, no matter how ‘fit’ you are. It is fantastic because it’s mine, because it is the way I live. And this life is sweet, rich, and short — I can’t afford to miss the beauty of it because I’m continually criticizing, judging, and discouraging myself.
- Eat clean (real, nutritious food) at least 80% of the time. I enjoy healthy food: salads, vegetables, protein, fruit… but I also have a serious tooth for salty snacks: salt and vinegar chips, Goldfish, pretzels… and the occasional chocolate chip cookie. I’d call that balance, wouldn’t you? Here I would also include this statement: Eat food that helps me feel better. If a bowl of ice cream is what my body is craving, super duper. But if eating those chips is going to make me feel guilty, I say no this time. I check in with myself: is the reason I want this food because I’m bored? If so, it probably won’t make me feel good. If my friend and I are making cookies for a party, eat them and enjoy.
- Enjoy my activity. I had always been a runner, but I was burned out earlier this year so I took a hiatus and took up yoga. It was new and challenging, motivating because it was different. I did spin classes for awhile, and now I’m back on the running path. I do it because I enjoy it. It’s not a chore, and I don’t feel guilty when I don’t do it, because the motivation is pleasure and enjoyment, not pressure and expectation. If I lived near more mountainous terrain, I may never exercise except to hike trails. That would be my exercise. See what I mean? What is your favorite activity?
- Minimize unhelpful media exposure. This looks different for everyone. When I was neck deep in yoga practice last month, I followed so many yogis on Instagram, because I wanted to learn, and I was inspired. But I’ve been in seasons where scrolling through photos of athletes was less motivating, and more discouraging. At that point, I stopped scrolling, I unfollowed, and I found my own pace. And then fill my mind and heart with that which inspires me – the Bible, my family, the affirming words spoken by my husband, etc.
- Realize no one is expecting me to look a certain way physically. That’s right, gals. The people who are judging me/you are those that have a need to make themselves look/feel better. The goal should be overall health, not six pack abs. Everyone is built differently, I can’t compare myself to you because your genetics, your bone structure, your body’s design is different from mine… and hallelujah for that! Right?! I want to be fit enough to bring healthy new lives into this world, to run around with my future children, to run 5k races to support local causes, to hike mountains with my husband.
This is what works for me. Choosing overall (mind, body, soul) wellness, real food, fun activity, and Truth over lies.
Do you have a healthy manifesto? I’d love to hear about it.