Here’s something I struggle with when engaged in conversation about veganism with non-vegans… some people seem to believe that there is some universal truth about what is and is not healthy. And, honestly, I’m sure some people have had similar experiences in the reverse.
So why do we cling to what we believe to be true about healthy habits? Because health is personal. What works for you may REALLY work for you, so it feels like it should work for everyone else. And why wouldn’t we share something that makes us feel good?
Yes, there is general consensus around the value of fruits and vegetables and the lack of value in sugar-sweetened beverages. But here’s the thing… if having an occasional soda will satisfy a craving or a need as I work to improve my diet and giving in to that one temptation keeps me from binging on a package of Oreos, it’s “healthy”.
For me, steering clear of meat and keeping my dairy and egg intake to a minimum is what makes my body feel best and helps me eat more of the really good stuff like fruits and veggies. For some people, it makes them feel weak, they eat more junk food, and ultimately it’s unhealthy.
The same goes for fitness… some people will run every day of their lives and be extremely healthy and happy individuals. Some people will run every day for a year and develop stress fractures, injuries, and put a real strain on their bodies. The Insanity workouts I love are not at all similar to what a yogi loves, but it doesn’t make either of us fitter or healthier!
So in the midst of so many people adamantly telling you what is “really” healthy, here are a few tips to know if what you’re doing is best for you…
IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
Soreness aside, your fitness and nutrition plans should ultimately make you feel good. You should have energy, feel satiated between meals, notice improvement in your fitness level as you progress, and be able to sleep well.
IT IS SUSTAINABLE
If what you’re doing right now is a lot of work, cumbersome, or time-consuming and you’re not totally in love with it, it’s not going to be sustainable. You’re better off with a less strict plan that you know you’ll stick with than a very restrictive plan that you’ll give up in 2 weeks or a month.
IT IS BETTER THAN WHERE YOU STARTED
Sometimes we beat ourselves up for not being perfect. I know I do it. But the reality is, my eating and exercise routine are SO MUCH better than they were a year ago. I’m constantly finding more balance in my life and slowly incorporating more and more healthy options. So if you’re eating better than you were and working more or harder than you were, you’re on the right track, and that’s what’s important.
BONUS: DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU DEFEND YOUR CHOICES
Aside from working directly with a coach who may be asking you to own up to making choices that are off the agreed upon plan (and this should be done in a tough love/supportive way, not a berating or mean way), no one should ask you to defend what works for you.
If you are living a life that is keeping you healthy and happy, that’s what counts. Don’t let anyone bully you into changing what works for you, just because it doesn’t work for them.
Remember, THERE ARE NO UNIVERSAL TRUTHS ABOUT HEALTH.
lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and feeling confident.
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. - Thomas Jefferson