Indulging in a Healthy Lifestyle
Indulging in a Healthy Lifestyle
This past weekend, I experienced New York for the first time. And somewhere between the bagels and charcoal lattes I came to realize something. Our human brains LOVE labels. They are crucial to helping us understand and identify things. You look at the label on the back of your food to tell you the nutrition facts (or maybe you don’t, and in that case, let’s talk); you spend money to sport a certain brand on your clothing, because it communicates something about your status or personality; you label your bag at the airport so that everyone knows it’s yours, and not to touch it. Labels can communicate so much important information in a clear, concise manner.
But the game changes when labels start to be applied to people and lifestyles. What are meant to clarify can begin to constrict, create prejudices, and put people or things into boxes that they may have no desire to be in. They can quickly become our identities- some wanted, some not. They may be sported as capes, or disguises like masks.
Regardless of how seemingly fitting the label is, though, it never tells the whole story. You simply cannot sum up a human being in a concise, clear manner. A soul is not meant to fit neatly into a box. So when it comes to diet and lifestyle, people often try and label themselves as vegan, paleo, keto, whole30, or whatever the trend of the day is, and it’s like trying to draw a line in the sand to tell the ocean how far it can reach. It may work for a little bit, but as soon as the tide changes, you’ll realize that you can’t put perimeters around something that is ever-changing.
As we grow and mature, our lifestyles and priorities are constantly changing. Not to mention the nutrient needs of your body as it relates to stress levels, sleep, activity, hormones, etc. From one season to the next, our diet should look different to accommodate our bodies’ needs. This is a good thing. But as soon as we begin to label ourselves or others, we become confined to a particular set of rules and guidelines that often do more harm than good.
Being known as “that super healthy girl” has become part of who I am identified as. It is somewhat of a niche for me, and for the most part, I like it. I like feeling like I fit neatly in a box, sitting over here in my corner where I can be accepted for my hobbies and interests. I can do as I please- no one is surprised, and no status quo disrupted.
Then there are times when I decide to step out of my box and live life like “the rest of the world” that doesn’t adhere to the same norms I usually do; when I want to experience culture and enjoy food that wouldn’t normally be part of my daily routine. And it’s funny to me how shocked people are to see me enjoying ice cream, pizza, cookies, bagels (yes, I had all those things and more during my recent New York trip). “You mean you eat those things? But they’re not healthy?!”
And this, friends, is where I want to clarify something so important about my personal philosophy. As I have said before, healthy living pertains to so much more than just the body. And healthy food is food that makes you feel good for the long-term.
Just like all the other labels we throw on things, we’ve categorized foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”. And this has drawn a line in the sand that may not need to be there. “Healthy” food doesn’t mean salads and low-calorie foods. On the other hand, pizza and ice cream aren’t “unhealthy” foods. I believe all foods can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Of course, we all know what foods are more nutritious and which ones are full of empty calories. If you indulge too much, you won’t feel good physically, nor are you setting yourself up for optimal health down the road. But if you never let yourself enjoy any treats, you won’t feel good mentally or emotionally.
I hope you will not miss what I’m saying. Don’t just eat whatever tastes good or satisfies a momentary craving. Eat what makes you feel good now and later- most of the time, that’s going to be whole, nourishing foods. But sometimes, it’s the decadent s’mores banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery with a flavor that will linger long after the bowl is licked clean. Treat your body well, but allow your soul a treat as well.
A healthy lifestyle should be freeing, empowering, and sustainable. If it’s not, then you may need to reconsider your labels (or ditch them altogether).
When in Rome, right? Well, New York, but soon enough…
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