What does “healthy” mean to you?

Health has become increasingly trendy, and the average US citizen sees 5000 advertising messages a day. Unfortunately, many “health” advertisements emphasize thinness as being healthy, and it can be hard to look past media stereotypes when they’re the only ones you see.

Healthy doesn’t always mean thin or athletic, but it’s become a common misconception held by millions of Americans. About 50% of American women are currently dieting, and 30% of teenage boys try to control their weight with unhealthy food habits.

Health is attainable to everyone, and “healthy” comes in many different sizes. Look past the scale and check out these tips to having a healthy body!

Five Tips for a Healthy Body:

  1. Treat your body with respect. Happiness is not size specific, and you will be happier and stronger if you accept and celebrate what your body does for you. Your abs help you breathe and your thighs allow you to walk, skip and dance. Instead of shaming your body, respect it and express appreciation for everything it accomplishes — from smiling to running.
  2. Give it enough rest. Rest repairs the body and the mind, so don’t feel defeated or guilty if you skip a workout. A little R&R actually helps strengthen your body and increases motivation. A strict diet, exercise routine and bad sleep habits can lead to sickness and added stress and anxiety.
  3. Fuel it with a variety of foods. Healthy diets include nutrient-rich foods, as well as the occasional less nutritious foods. Do not label foods “good” or “bad” because judging food can lead to unhealthy food habits and feelings of shame or guilt. Instead, view foods with high fat or high sugar as “occasional” foods and things like veggies, lean protein, and whole grains as “everyday”  foods.
  4. Exercise moderately. Not only does physical activity improve body composition, strength, endurance and coordination, but it also provides social support, lifestyle intention and structure. All of these benefits can help improve self-confidence and possibly combat disordered eating habits. However, over exercising can lead to an unhealthy mindset. Make an attempt to get 150 minutes of enjoyable, moderate exercise weekly.   
  5. Resist the pressure to judge yourself and others based on weight, shape or size. Unfortunately, 75 percent of “normal” weight women judge themselves as overweight. It’s hard to be happy and stay motivated when you dwell on flaws. Remember, bathroom scales can’t measure strength, persistence, beauty, resilience or personality. Celebrate others based on their qualities of character and accomplishments, regardless of how they look.