Being a woman nowadays is hard. We might have taken some important steps towards gender equality but in some areas women are very much still their own worst enemies. In a world where social media reigns supreme it can be very hard for women to feel comfortable in their own skin. You might have considered yourself reasonably healthy up until the moment you saw that super model in a bikini on Instagram telling you that, in fact, you are not healthy because you do not look like her.
The truth is, virtually no-one looks like her. Does that mean that virtually no-one is healthy? Absolutely not! Health and body image have been worryingly conflated recently but they are two very different things. You might not believe me but it is possible to have a few extra pounds and be healthy. Similarly, you can have a body like a model and be unhealthy.
For those who are unsure where they stand, here is what healthy actually means.
You Are Physically Fit
If you are an able-bodied person, you should be able to do everything an able-bodied person can do. If you can walk up a hill or go on a hike without feeling like your lungs are going to explode then you are probably pretty healthy. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like, if you can do these things then you know it works properly. Similarly, can you take an exercise class without giving up halfway through? If you can’t, keep doing them until you can.
Your Vices Are Under Control
Everyone has a vice. Some of us drink, some of us smoke, and some of us binge of junk food. Whatever your vice might be, keep it under control. This doesn’t mean you have to cut it out of your life entirely, but you should limit it to an amount that won’t affect your overall health. Confine your smoking and drinking to a Friday night and treat junk food as a special treat rather than the norm. If you can do all of this then you are healthy.
You Have Good Relationships With Other People
While your physical health is important, your mental health should not be overlooked. Maintaining strong relationships with the people around you is essential. These people will laugh with you in the good times and be your shoulder to cry on in the bad times. It doesn’t matter if your thighs jiggle when you walk, if you have strong friendships then you can tick this box and class yourself as healthy.
Your Mind is Present
Following on from the previous point, one way to keep your mental health in check is by working hard at staying present. Try to cut out the background noise that plays on a loop in your head and focus on what is going on right here and now. Concentrate on your breathing and pay attention to what you can see, smell, and hear. This prevents you from over-thinking and will make you extremely healthy in the mind department.
You Feel Good About Yourself
Having a healthy relationship with yourself is the most important thing of all. If you look in the mirror and constantly find faults with your body then you need to overhaul your way of thinking. Instead, you should look at yourself and point out all of the bits you love. Maybe you have strong legs that help you walk all over town, or you have a warming smile that reassures people. Whatever it is, identify and love it.