What is healthy?
As a personal trainer, I would definitely say that I’m held to a higher standard when it comes to maintaining a lean physique. I understand that. If you’re trying to get healthy, you want the person advising you to be walking the walk. You wouldn’t want your financial advisor to be broke. You expect a Spanish teacher to speak Spanish, etc. With that being said, it can be easy to fall into extremes and forget about what’s actually “healthy” when you feel praise or judgment depending on what your exterior package looks like.
In the 2 pictures above, I can honestly say that I’m not necessarily unhealthy in either photo, and most commonly, I maintain somewhere in between these 2 physiques (leaning toward the right though, for sure). The difference between left vs. right:
On the left, I followed a program perfectly. I followed a strict meal plan and I did not “cheat” one single time during my program. Not one ounce of chocolate. Not one bite of ice cream. I drank every ounce of water. I lifted according to schedule. I did the assigned minutes of cardio on the assigned days. If I went to a wedding reception, I pulled a can of tuna out of my purse and a baggie of green beans. If I went out to dinner, I asked the chef to steam “this” and no oil or butter on “that” while my friends begged me to eat a cheeseburger. People who didn’t have to spend much time with me would stop me and say “how do you get those arms” or help me get a 6 pack like that”. People ask about the extreme.
On the right, I ate healthy, real, whole foods. I didn’t count calories. I still chose a beautiful, colorful, fresh menu item when I dined out, but I took a chance with the oil and seasoning. I was not afraid of avocado and goat cheese on my salad. I’d put an entire banana in my smoothie. If my family went out for ice cream, I’d eat some too. When I’d workout, I would do what felt right for that day. If that meant resting, or going for a hike instead of “lifting back” for an hour, then that’s what I’d do. Basically, I lived a fuller life that was inclusive of the people I love. I wasn’t stressed about packing meals when I traveled. I could be a little more impulsive without having anxiety about it.
I’m 5’3 ¾” tall. On the left I’m about 114 lbs and about 15% body fat. This is acceptable from a medical perspective. It’s more than the essential requirement for normal body function for a female.
On the right, I’m 122 lbs, 21% body fat. Also, still within a healthy parameter and considered “athletic”. I have a softer look, but still feel strong and have better endurance.
My point is that while both of these body types are considered healthy, and statistics can be a useful tool to measure progress, there are much better benchmarks to determine whether or not you are “healthy”.
Pay attention to how you feel. Journal your habits and corresponding symptoms each day to identify patterns in how your lifestyle effects how you feel. Be honest with yourself. For me, the body on the left was fine as a short term goal. Having a strict protocol was what I needed at that time in my life to help me get through a season. However, maintaining that long term, would have led to an isolated, exhausted version of myself. Even if the stats are safe, you could be creating adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance and a list of other related conditions.
Being too extreme on the opposite side of the spectrum can be even more harmful. Indulging every craving, being too sedentary, drinking excessively, sleep deprivation, etc. can lead to anxiety, depression, hormone imbalance, as well as other diseases associated with poor nutrition.
Pay attention to things like:
How much energy do I have?
Do my joints feel stiff, swollen or achy?
Is my skin and hair dry or brittle?
What is my mood like most often?
Can I get on and off of the floor with ease?
Am I winded when I walk up a flight of stairs?
Do I feel nervous or anxious?
Do I have trouble focusing?
You can add questions or symptoms to this list to determine if you are feeling the way you desire to feel or if you need to make a change.
I’d love to help guide you in feeling:
Let me clarify, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel/look good in a swimsuit or your favorite pair of jeans. Feeling confident in your appearance is important to your overall health as well. But remember this: If you don’t like how you look , you won’t magically drop pounds and then fall in love with yourself. In fact, it usually works in the opposite order. Love yourself now. Focus on what you adore about yourself now. It’s much easier to properly care for someone that you love. If you look in the mirror and think and say awful things about yourself, you aren’t going to turn around and properly nourish that self, you’re going to try to punish that person. Start with kindness. Start with love. Talk to yourself like you’re your best friend. Then treat yourself like you’re a precious gift.
I can help you by sharing workouts and recipes that focus on:
Losing excessive fat
If you focus on one or more of the goals listed above, you’ll create a healthy body that you can sustain. That’s the key to living a full, fun life. Don’t let your body or your mind limit you from the adventures you were made for.