What Does Healthy Actually Look Like?
Healthy is a buzzword that’s playing at the back of everyone’s minds, including me and you. But what does healthy really mean? Does being “healthy” involve having to fit into a certain size of jeans? Does being “healthy” mean you need to hit a certain weight on the scale? Does being “healthy” require you to squat 100 kgs, meditate everyday for 30 mins and eat only salads? Up until a few years ago, healthy simply meant not having any disease.
But today, this is hardly the first thought that comes to anyone’s mind. The word has been trapped in a barrage of dramatic “BEFORE VS AFTER” pictures. The meaning of healthy in 2020 is no longer simple, it’s subjective.
I asked a few people exactly this: what does being “healthy” mean to you? Here's what they had to say:
Lakshmi Vishwanath, Athlete
“Having been an athlete since I was 8, working out has always been a part of my life. I lifted weights primarily to get stronger and to perform better at my sport, and lifting has become a very important form of self care and therapy for me ever since. But, being someone who people would generally call “skinny”, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard comments like “You’re so skinny! Why are you working out?”, “Stop lifting weights, you’ll look like a man!” and “What’s your deal dude? Are you training for the Olympics? HAHA”. Healthy looks different to everybody. It’s so easy to get lost when society puts out an image on what “fit” and “healthy” should look like. Especially when there are so many unhealthy ways to achieve that standard in a way that is detrimental to your health and quality of life in the long run. Healthy isn’t about how I look to me, it’s about how I feel and how much energy I have and how happy I am. It’s so important to define your own “healthy”.
Vinitha Crispin, Education Professional
“I never knew what Fibromyalgia was until I got a diagnosis. My whole body was in constant excruciating pain restricting basic movement and functions , chronic fatigue, memory fog, anxiety and depression. My body felt like a shell that looked perfectly fine but completely broken within. After being told there is no treatment, I am now on a path to being healthy. I didn't want to run a marathon or lose weight. I simply wanted to be able to hug my children without pain, go for a walk soaking in nature, to be able to get out of bed and have a normal day. So to me, being healthy starts with my mind. I now know that physical illness is the final manifestation of an unhealthy mind. My road to recovery started with giving permission for the mind to heal from past trauma and hurt, spending time nursing and nurturing my inner child, learning to slow down and being mindful gently coming to an elevated place of emotional freedom, gratitude, and wholeness. I am slowly seeing life from a place of calm, learning when to act and when to let go. My fibro is slowly being tamed . I am still a work in progress with big learning curves but still striding forward nevertheless.”
Anushka Hardikar, Artist, Designer and Entrepreneur
“For me, 4 years ago the term healthy was something that was purely based on whether or not I had a distinctive physical illness or disease. It was only when I began experiencing acute anxiety and crippling depression that I realised I may need to revisit that definition. Health to me today means so much more than just looking a certain way or ensuring a disease-free body. Good health is defined by my meditation practice that brings a balance to my day. It is defined by the mindful choices I make in my work. It is defined by what I choose to feed my body and mind with. It is defined by the kind and supportive community I surround myself with.
We all need to pause and re-evaluate what long lasting wellness means to us. That’s when will we be able to create small, conscious changes in every aspect of our lives.”
Nidhi Singh, Founder of PCOS India:
“For me, being healthy means taking good care of myself - both, my body & my mind! Managing a disease or a condition may require you to alter your ‘Life- Style’ i.e. the way we live our lives everyday, and that is definitely much more than just following a short-term diet plan! Being able to provide myself space to learn about my body and my emotional state is the first step towards achieving good health! Our bodies are beautiful, they adapt, they heal but the pill they need is constant love and self care from you!
Being able to respect my body the way it is and being happy about things that make me ‘ME’, drives me to be healthy! Managing PCOS & eliminating symptoms may not be an easy journey, and sometimes circumstances may throw me off my health path, what's key is I am able to pick myself up and start again without being harsh to myself!”
We have a very narrow definition of what it means to look and be healthy, possibly thanks to the media portraying it in such a stereotypical way every time. Our bodies are as unique as our personalities. So, how can one standard picture or image apply to us all?
Some of you started walking to the neighbourhood grocery store instead of driving 10 minutes to get in some movement. While others started sleeping at 10pm and waking up at 7 am so they can have a relaxing start to the day with a hot cup of tea before the kids wake up. Some others now take two servings of vegetables for lunch as opposed to one. And so many of you have started consciously managing your stress. Last but not least, I know quite a few of you have started pooping everyday. Your Gut thanks you.
Now THESE according to me are big steps towards health and transformation. And you know what? There is no BEFORE/AFTER picture in the world that can do justice to it.
If you’re someone who stumbled on this blog to know where to start your journey towards health, here’s your conclusion: A good place to start is Nutrition, Sleep, Stress and some daily steps. Simple yet effective!