Who's still going strong at the gym? Already proud of you if that is the case! Not because you're trying to"get fit," but because you have some great determination!
I am in no way a health coach. I am in no way a registered dietitian, personal trainer or nutritionist. I have talked with nutritionists, an eating disorder recovery therapist, personal trainers, but most importantly listened to my body to learn what health means to me. I want you to know, that while you are reading this post, these are just things I have learned that work for my body. But news flash! My body is NOT your body. Everyone is different. "Healthy" looks different on everyone, and health means something different for everyone.
I challenge you to read, and take a couple of these nuggets to see how they can apply to your health. The biggest thing you can do for yourself is to learn what health is for you! God created us all in his perfect image. As Psalms 139 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are good, I know that full and well." Honor the one body that has been given to you with your health so that you can live life to your fullest potential and live out your purpose.
1. Listen to your body
This one is #1 for a reason! Listen to your body and obey its needs! So often, we think we know better than our body, and let me make a very valid point. When you have to go to the bathroom, you listen and go to the bathroom! (At least I really hope you do!) When you are thirsty, most of the time, you'll go grab yourself a drink of water, right? Listening to your body and being mindful of the actions you take towards your health is very important to your overall well-being.
2. Proper nutrition
You guys, I could go on a rant with nutrition! First off, you will live through about a million fad "diets" throughout the range of your life. Weight Watchers, the Keto Diet, the Low-Carb diet, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Fat-Free, Sugar Free, low sodium... the list goes on and on. None of these are bad ways to eat, but limiting your foods and restricting your intake on certain foods won't always benefit you. Your body needs certain vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. If you listen closely, your body will let you know what kind of nutrients it needs most. But if you tell yourself that you are on a certain "diet" and restrict some of these nutrients, you're now ignoring the signs your body is giving you and might even crave these foods more.
Speaking of cravings, you might think I am crazy, but it's okay to listen to those cravings! If you feel your body craving a certain food such as a donut, allow yourself the donut! If you don't let yourself have a donut every now and then, you might over eat and down five donuts with the "I can never have this except for right now" attitude. This goes back to point #1. Listen to your body. Everyone's bodies function differently on different nutrition. Some people have health issues in which they need to follow a certain nutrition plan. Some people's bodies work better when they eat more fats and less proteins. But here's the science behind it: food is fuel. Your body takes the food you eat, no matter what that may be, and it turns the food into glucose which is energy. You need energy to live. Much like you need gas to make a car go, food helps fuel your energy.
What I have learned from nutrition is that my body needs a balanced diet of dairy, grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, proteins, and coffee. (Yes, I just included coffee as a food group!) I need to eat a meal or a snack every 2 1/2 to 3 hours to keep my energy up and not get hangry (I am no fun to be around when I am hangry!) If I am hungry an hour after a meal, I eat a snack. If I ate a really big meal, and I'm not hungry after 3 hours, I don't eat a snack. If my friends want to go out for ice cream, I eat ice cream if I want it. It's a lifestyle, not a "diet" that I'm on. I listen to my body's needs and respond.
Okay, guilty as charged! I sometimes run on very little sleep. But I cannot stress how much sleep is important to overall health. As much as we demand from our bodies each and every day from work to school to practices, rehearsals, church, chores, work outs... we all need rest! Think of it like your phone. Each night, you probably charge your phone so it will be able to work for you the next day. If not, you wake up in the morning with about 20% phone battery, and by 10 am your phone dies on you... Guess what?? You need to charge your body each night by plugging yourself in under the covers as your head rests on a pillow. It is recommended for adults to get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If this means you put your phone across the room to make sure you're not scrolling through Facebook that hour before you fall asleep, then so be it! If this also means you were up late studying for an exam and need to take a nap in the afternoon, do it! Recharge and rest your body!
I live in a world at Oklahoma City University where I am surrounded by dancers. These dancers dance every day for approximately 3-6 hours a day. And on top of that, they'll go to the gym, go take yoga, go run five miles, or go to a spin class. You guys, I am calling you out, because I use to be one of these people to. Your body doesn't need 8 hours of exercise each day. I know... crazy right? The American Heart Association actually recommends only 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Some people like to exercise and like to go for a run for an hour each day to clear their mind. Props to you! I like to exercise too! But there are some days that I know my body is just is too sore and needs rest. There are some days that I just want to sit on the couch and get lost in a book. There are days that I am just too busy to squeeze in a work out, and I promise you, I don't die because I didn't make it to a gym or a Pure Barre class. I once again, listen to my body and know when I can get in a killer work out, or when I just need to take a day off.
Health is not just physical, its mental and emotional as well. I find myself always trying to jump from one thing to the next, and never take a moment to catch my breath and take a moment for myself. I try to spend at least 30 minutes each day "meditating." By mediating I don't mean sitting cross-legged on a pillow saying "Ooommmmm" over and over again, (which is actually quite relaxing if you're into that), I mean just 30 minutes of simply being with myself and with my mind. Sometimes that means going for a walk. Sometimes that means reading a book. Sometimes that means doing a 30 minute bible study or journaling. Sometimes, no joke, I lay on my bed and stair at the ceiling. When you take a moment to remove yourself from a busy world and take a breath, it makes stress, worry, anxiety fade away and really puts life into perspective. I will always 10 out of 10 recommend!
Other things to keep in mind:
You are not 15 anymore. (Or maybe you are) nonetheless, you should not expect your body to be the same body you had when you were 15. Each day demands different things from you. Each season of life brings different challenges and eases. Your body will change with the seasons, and you have to learn to love your body no matter what season of life you are facing.
Health will not be perfect. Are you perfect? Because I will openly admit that I am 100% for sure NOT! Health is a journey. Health is taking each day at a time. Health is being in tune with your body and knowing your needs. Health is mental, physical, and emotional.
One last thing: You are not a number on a scale. Remind yourself that each and every day. You are not an image in the mirror. You are not someone else's idea of how you should look. Your journey and your health should not be defined by these things. You get to carve this journey. You get to pave the way of what your health means to you. Its as simple as that.
What goals do you have in your health this year? I would love to hear them!