Let me preface this by filling you all in on how I came up with the idea for this post…
It all began Saturday morning…
I woke up earlier than expected, and therefore decided to stay in bed and do some blog reading/catch up on emails before heading to the library. Of course, within a few minutes of waking up, my first thoughts drifted to food, however my urge to stay in my jammies and comfortable bed trumped venturing outside to get real food. So, what did I do?
I ate my U-store snacks.
Except for the fact that…it’s not. In my mind I knew that this was probably one of the least nutritious breakfasts I could be eating, so why was I doing it? As a self-proclaimed health nut, isn’t this kind of behaviour complete taboo?!
As I sat in my bed, popcorn crumbs (yes, popcorn crumbles- fun fact) sprinkled over my shirt, I felt, honestly, quite pathetic. Despite my pitiful state, I remained relatively immobile, using my long arms to reach over to my desk to pick up my laptop without even getting out of bed. Now is that laziness to the extreme, or what?
However, it got me thinking: If I know what I’m doing is so “unhealthy”, why am I doing it? What have happened to the usual cues that motivate me to eat nutritiously, and frankly, not act like a lazy bum? Then it struck me: my body felt fine, and I didn’t feel disgusting. Somehow, downing an entire bag of popcorn and chocolate covered coconut didn’t leave me feeling sluggish or sloth-like. I was, however, cognizant of the fact that this was an unusual behaviour (even pizza for breakfast would have been a better choice), and knew that this was a one-off kind of thing.
Sometimes Your Body is Fine With Junk
There’s a reason why people swear by the 80/20 rule. It’s no fun to be constantly stressed about eating the recommended requirement of veggies every single day, measuring out your 1/2 cup servings of rice, or whatever it may be. Some days are just going to be filled with chocolate, cookies, and snacks on snacks. (Ahem ahem, this may have been my entire Friday). However, if you make sure at the end of the week that you roughly stuck to healthy foods 80% of the time, that 20% really shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. At least that’s my philosophy!
The More I Work Out, The Healthier I Will Be
I have a confession to make: I’m one of those annoying people who indulges less the more I work out.
I know that some people like to “reward” themselves with a treat after a hard workout or race. After several years of competing and training, I’ve realized that this “urge” doesn’t apply to me. Instead, I find that exercise makes my body crave nutrient dense foods, as though it knows it needs to prepare itself for the next training session. Hey, I’m not fighting this one, but I do have to acknowledge the fact that this tendency is not always appreciated by others, especially those who find sweets dangerously tempting.
All or Nothing Principle
So, you may be thinking, what happens when I don’t work out? Do I still eat as healthy as when I’m training?
To be honest, sometimes the answer is “yes”, but often times, no. Saturday morning’s popcorn/chocolate extravaganza is a perfect example. I woke up, and I was tired, sore, and wanted to stay in bed. The only form of physical activity I had on the agenda for the day was possibly a light bike to relieve soreness, followed by lots of dancing later that night. Therefore, why not have some “unhealthy” snacks?
True, I did indulge more at once than the average person. However, I didn’t feel too badly (physically and mentally) about this, because for the most part, I had made good, nutritious choices all week long. In other words, my entire week had been composed of ~80% healthy foods, which meant I could cram my 20% of junk food into one sitting. I don’t recommend doing this (I’m actually pretty surprised I didn’t feel like a sloth afterwards), but it didn’t pose any problems. In fact, it motivated me to get back on track.
Moral of the Story: What does “healthy” mean to me?
To me “healthy” means: feeling good, inside and out.
It’s not about following the latest “health fad” that’s plastered all over the TV or the internet. To me, being healthy isn’t a direct function of how many vegetables you eat, how many hours a day you exercise, or how little dessert you eat. In my opinion, if you’re too worried about being perfectly “healthy”, you’ll only wind up stressing yourself out, and won’t be able to enjoy the beauty of rest days, cheesecake, and chocolate. And who wants to live without those?!
As far as I’m concerned, if I look good on the outside, and feel good on the inside, I’m doing something right.
So! Now that my long rant is over, tell me…
What does “healthy” mean to you?
Whether you’re a blogger, or a “silent reader”, please feel free to comment, or to send me an email with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to hear your definitions of “healthy”, and what it means to you.