♀︎Journal,  Womanhood

What does it mean to be healthy?

It’s been hard for me lately. 

Life is all about the ebs and flows, the good and bad. One day we feel balanced, whole and confident and the next we’re off kilter, in pieces and hard on ourselves. 

And the love journey with my body hasn’t any different. The constant messages we receive is that fatness is bad. We have fatphobia engrained in our culture and it’s runs as deep as it can go. 

I’ve been working hard and dismantling my own fears and the struggles I face with loving my body. 

Honestly, I thought I was doing pretty good but I’ve recently come to realize that I had only done half the work.

Recently I haven’t been feeling good. I had a really bad pain flare up in my body a few weeks ago that left me hardly able to move. Since then I have been struggling with my energy levels, breathing, anxiety and so much more. I came to realize my body is exhausted and needs rest. True, real rest. 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve worked out. I’ve done yoga a few times and gone for a few walks, but otherwise I have focused on writing, taking baths, meditating, watching movies etc. 

Not working out has placed an interesting mental hurdle in front of me. I’ve come to realize even while accepting my body I was still holding onto the idea that when I am working out I am ensuring I’m not gaining  weight and possibly even working towards shedding a few pounds. This wasn’t something I was aware of until I stopped. 

We are spoon fed the idea that movement to be smaller and thinner means health and I used to live by that message. But these past 2 years have proven otherwise to me. I’ve been learning a lot about being healthy and what that means. 

You see, when I started working out regularly it changed my life. I cannot and will not ever deny that fact. It was the first time I acted out of love for myself. I thought, like we’re told, that to be healthy meant to workout, watch how much you eat and what your eating, that’s it. 

But then I got pregnant. And as my amazing physiotherapist put it so bluntly: ‘often we think pregnancy will fix all our problems, or at the very least, won’t affect them, when in reality, it always highlights them and brings them to the surface’ so I was doing my same program, as best I could while growing a baby but it wasn’t serving me the same because I wasn’t truly listening to what my body needs I was listening to what others were telling me was best, so I continued on. As I shifted into motherhood and postpartum it continued to not work though…yet I still continued on pushing more, harder, longer. 

When I would voice my concerns to friends, family, doctors, groups, the internet etc I always got the same answers: 

  • Eat less/ Eat better 
  • Workout this way/or that way 

The more I focussed on this, the crappier I felt and the worse I got. Then it all clicked, I was focussing on what everyone else was saying but not what my own body was telling me. 

I think that’s what true health really is though, to listen to your body at every given moment and feed it what it needs. 

What my body needs changes all the time. Right now my body has been screaming at me to slow down even more. It’s telling me to focus not on my physical form right now but rather my spiritual health and emotional and mental health. To ground myself and just live consciously in the present moment. It’s resting and recovering, something I have never allowed my body to do. 

We have been taught/programmed/trained, however you want to put it, to not listen to our bodies. To always focus on our outer physical bodies and what people tell us we should look like, feel like and how to achieve that. The problem is, everyone, no matter who it is (and this includes our doctors, teachers, media outlets, businesses, parents, aunts, uncles, friends etc) has deep rooted engrained fatphobia and lives by the ideal that health only means focusing on moving your body and the foods your consuming. To focus on what the the numbers say rather than how you feel.

They say this will lead to pure joy and happiness. When in reality it’s just  keeping us disconnected from ourselves and in a state of fear at all times. When living in a state of fear we tend to not make as rational decisions or have rational thoughts. In our desperation to be smaller we don’t care about what the statistics actually say about the diets and the risks involved.

Even while speaking to this it has been so hard on me mentally to not be working out consistently. To be very aware I will probably gain weight (not that I have weighed myself in quite some time). Each day does get better though, so I guess this is for the person who feels like they’re not enough today. Who’s feeling the pressure of the world. You’re not alone, there are a lot of people silently alongside with you, myself included.

If you haven’t started the inner work yet, I urge you to take this as you’re calling to do so. To start asking yourself why you’re holding yourself back from certain foods, feeling the need to workout a certain number of times a week or why you have that certain number you like to stay at or achieve. Start paying attention to the people around you and how they talk about themselves, how they see themselves. Its often a reflection of what we think of ourselves. Its a long hard journey, but it’s no harder than the journey of not loving yourself.