A Healthy Lifestyle over a Perfect Body
Living a healthy lifestyle is more important than having a “perfect body”. I’m one of those people that just feels “off” if I haven’t done some form of physical exercise and maybe even a little guilty. Like a lot of other women, I have struggled with having a positive relationship with my body since I was a young girl. I remember being in middle school and doing crunches in my bed before falling asleep. At 12 years old I was obsessed with trying to get the “perfect body” instead of loving my body for what it was. I would talk about my body in a negative way that I wouldn’t allow other people to do, but for some reason, I thought it was acceptable for me to do. Pretty screwed up right? This self-inflicted verbal putdown pattern lasted throughout my teens and most of my 20’s.
Looking Back at my Childhood
We pick up a lot of behavior attributes as children without even realizing that we are doing so and it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I began to notice this. Looking back I realize that my Dad always worked out and made a point to cook meals when my sister and I stayed at his home but it was the complete opposite at my Mom’s. She suffered from eating disorders, depression, didn’t exercise, drank a lot and smoked. She didn’t eat much, so we rarely had meals together. Nutrition, self-care, and self-love were not things that she taught me and my younger sister. I watched someone who I loved not love herself, and I adopted some of that negative behavior. I had resentment that I didn’t realize I was carrying around until I confronted how I felt about my Mom and my childhood. Since the age of 16, I went through periods of weight gain and weight loss and had issues reaching a healthy balance between the two and finding inner happiness.
In my late 20’s I gave up smoking, became a vegetarian (went fully vegan last July), and adopted a new and positive way to think, feel, and love myself. I have been an athlete my entire life but didn’t appreciate fitness like I should have. Instead of partaking in physical exercise with the outcome to win a game or to achieve the “perfect body,” I started to workout to simply feel good. My life changed when I made these changes. Depression runs in my family. This is why I made a healthy lifestyle my way of steering clear of that unfortunate gene. I realized I had the power to determine which path I took in life. What happened next? Happiness started to blossom when I began taking care of myself and loving myself. Over the years I have my workout passions have changed but I learned something from each of them. Basketball taught me how to be a part of a team, the gym was a place to release stress, jiu-jitsu showed me how to defend myself and healthily release stress, and yoga is teaching me how to be one with myself, be aware of my breath and the present moment.
The Impact of Change
I learn something new about myself every time I am on my yoga mat. I stretch a little further, control my breathing a little better, hold that pose a little longer, or understand myself a little better. Whatever might be bothering me before working out might still be on my mind after but I guarantee I won’t be as emotional or bothered by it. I have a clearer mind and lighter heart after working out. You might even say that I’m more of a balanced person after working out. There are a lot of people who suffer from depression, lack of satisfaction with their body, health issues, anger issues, or a multitude of everyday things that result in no motivation to change those things that bother them. I am someone who truly believes in the results that can come from working out and investing in yourself. One small change can lead to 100 but making that first change is necessary.
Being Happy is More Important than Being Perfect
A lot of people think of exercise solely as a way of having a great physique. Instead, try looking at working out as a way to love yourself instead of doing it for the “perfect body”. When you start to genuinely care about yourself, good habits naturally follow. When I am working out everything else around me tends to fade away. I’m able to find space between the constant chatters of the mind and find peace with myself. Do I have days when I don’t want to workout? Of course. Do I have moments where I fall back into a negative mindset? Absolutely. The difference is that now I can spot it quickly and get out of whatever funk I might be in. Do I ever have moments when I judge my body? Yes, but its something I’ve accepted that I will probably always do.
At 30 years old, I can honestly say that I am the happiest and that I love my body. Yes, even the days when I judge it. I love it for what it is, what it isn’t, what it can’t do and what it CAN do. A healthy lifestyle saved me from a life and mindset that I did not want. It has made me a better, happier and more self-aware person. I’m self-aware of what I want and need and what I don’t want and need. This self-awareness expands to all areas of my life. Working out has saved me in more ways than one.
What can/has a healthy lifestyle done for you? Please share!