Want to be Healthy? Here’s 3 Secrets to Getting There
You may wonder what my background is that makes me knowledgeable to blog about health and ‘);“>fitness. Well just to set the record straight, I’m not a ‘);“>fitness consultant or registered nutritionist or ‘);“>dietitian. What gives me enough insight to write on health and ‘);“>fitness is that I’ve lived it. I’ve been the heavy, overweight girl and I’ve been the toned and fit marathon runner; two complete opposite extremes and everything in between. Which brings me to my blog topic for today — three secrets I’ve realized recently that have helped me rethink my approach to health.
Secret No. 1: Fat doesn’t always mean unfit
The first time I was at my current weight I had just finished giving birth to my son. I didn’t exercise much and I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted. Eventually my disdain for those last 30 pounds of unwanted pregnancy weight pushed me in to running. I had never run distances of more than five kilometres so when I began increasing my mileage gradually up to 20 kilometres to train for my first half marathon, you can imagine how fast the pounds melted away.
Fast forward eight years and throw in a few of life’s curveballs and I’m back up to my post-pregnancy weight. However this time it feels much different. I’m still running and have been for more than eight years. My body has adapted to it and as a result, I’ve increased my level of cardiovascular health 10-fold over what it used to be. Once you’ve built up a base in a particular sport, it’s hard to lose it unless you stop completely. I may not be as speedy a runner as a I used to be at my lowest weight, but I’m way fitter at this weight the second time around than I was eight years ago not exercising at all. What I’m trying to say is even though I’m a bit overweight, I’m still fit.
Recent studies have also shown that being a bit overweight and fit is healthier in the long term than being skinny and unfit. While piling on the pounds is not good for you, weight alone can no longer be the yardstick used to measure one’s health or ‘);“>fitness level. If you’re still not convinced, check out this recent article I read in the National Post: Fat not necessarily fatal, new studies find. It only reiterated what I’ve known all along.
Secret No. 2: Obesity is a symptom not just a disease
I’ve battled weight issues all my adult life. At my heaviest I was 230 pounds and at my lowest weight four years ago 159 lbs. I’m not alone. Obesity is a health dilemma Canadians and Americans are struggling with in record numbers. According to a 2011 Statistics Canada study, one in four Canadians is overweight and one in three Americans is overweight. Even if you have all the money and resources in the world like Oprah, obesity is not easy to overcome — but it can be done. The key is to address the underlying and deeper reasons why we eat and whether it is for emotional reasons, stress, habit or merely out of boredom. If you don’t it will be hard to break food’s power over you.
In that way obesity is really just a symptom of a larger disease called addiction. People simply use food to fill the void to cover up deeper issues, emotional pain or childhood trauma. For example, I started emotionally eating when I was a teenager to compensate for my parent’s divorce and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Food became my friend and offered solace when there was no other way for it to be found. Between Grades 8 and 12 I gained 100 pounds. Looking back now I see how my weight and struggles with food pretty much robbed me of a happy teenage life. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s, that I got my weight somewhat under control, yet it’s still something I struggle with to this day.
Being addicted to food is not an easy addiction to overcome. Unlike alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, you need food to survive. One book that helped me see my relationship to food in a new light was Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. Food doesn’t have as much emotional power over me as it used to and slowly I’m learning to eat healthier and recognize the triggers that lead me to use food for reasons other than nourishment. Being a runner has also helped me to re-evaluate my relationship with food as a source of fuel for my body. There’s good fuel and there’s bad fuel.
Secret No. 3: Good health goes way beyond the physical
Want ripped abs in just six weeks? How to get in the best shape of your life! Lose 10 pounds in three easy weeks! The health and ‘);“>fitness industry is so geared toward how we physically look on the outside, how we feel on the inside gets grossly overlooked. The emphasis on strictly the physical leads us treading down dangerous waters by detracting us from what matters most; our self-esteem, self-worth, and the ability to live full happy lives. Maybe it’s why I’m learning to embrace my fuller-figured self right now.
The old me was obsessed with weight and my outward physical appearance to the point I hated on myself constantly. The media already berates women every day to be something unrealistic, unattainable and sometimes unhealthy. Why must we need to add fuel to the fire and berate ourselves even more? I’m tired of it. I want no part of it. I am determined to end years of mental and emotional self-flagellation.
When you’re able to love yourself first (even the heavier version of you) ‘);“>weight loss becomes more attainable. Yes, taking care of your physical self is important but equally important is also taking care of the emotional you, the intellectual you, the mental you and the spiritual you. When you learn to feed and balance all these aspects of yourself in a harmonious way, happiness and inner peace is more likely to arrive at your doorstep. It’s why there has been a real shift in the health field lately focusing on holistic health, personal happiness and well-being. It also explains the huge rise in interest in activities like yoga which embrace all these dimensions. So stop looking in the mirror in disgust and go feed your mind, body and soul with a nature walk, meditation, or a yoga class. Learn to love and accept the you that you are now!