I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about health. In our society, we typically equate health with weight. Overweight? Unhealthy. Skinny? You’re doing great. With this correlation, I have an excuse to almost never think about my habits and whether or not they’re healthy. At 5’3 and 102 pounds, I’ve never had a weight problem. It takes very little effort for me to like what I see in the mirror, so I don’t think about what I’m eating or how often I’m working out. I don’t think about being healthy.
Except, I’m not healthy. I don’t eat nearly enough, and what I do eat isn’t all that great for me. I was recently diagnosed with anemia, and unlike most girls my age with anemia, mine isn’t caused by heavy menstruation. It’s simply from not eating the types of food that supply the body with iron – namely red meat and dark, leafy green vegetables. I do workout fairly regularly, but I don’t often push myself hard. I get out of breath quite easily, which is just discouraging enough to give myself an excuse to stop. Normally, my self-esteem is at a level that I like to call “healthy” and my friends refer to as “egotistical”, but lately even that’s been suffering.
This wasn’t always the case. I used to be fit. Like really fit. I was always an active kid. I loved the outdoors. I loved roller-blading and climbing trees. Even watching TV meant running back and forth across and jumping all over the couch while Spongebob played in the background. When I was nine, I started soccer. I played for four years, three of which were in the competitive league. After quitting that, I tried every other sport I could get my hands on. In 8th grade, I played basketball and ran track. In 9th grade, I did volleyball, basketball, track, and tennis. In 10th, I did track. When I was doing all of this, I felt great. I had energy, I was eating a lot, and I could do everything I wanted without running out of breath. I could run a mile in 6 minutes. Nowadays, it takes me 10.
I want to get fit again. I’m too young to feel this old. So I’ve devised a plan to get back on track.
Eating Healthy: I’m not talking about going on a diet here. I don’t believe in diets. I’m talking about reconsidering what I want my food to do for me, namely by actually considering it in the first place. I’m a big fan of junk food. While I’ve cut down on the chips and I’ve accidentally stopped drinking soda, I still consume an impressive amount of cookies, ice cream, pizza, etc. While I will always love these foods, I want to start thinking about what these foods do for me. In the short term, they make me feel great. In the long term, not so much. For example, I love Cheez-its. When I’m eating them, all I think about it the salty goodness. About ten minutes later, however, I feel like shit. I feel sluggish, like there’s a big ball of carbs in my stomach.
One thing my doctor recommended for me is to eat protein in the morning. I typically eat cereal or some sort of granola bar. I’m not very hungry in the mornings, so big breakfasts aren’t appetizing to me. However, those carbs break down into sugar in the body. So even if the cereal seems healthy, I’m still starting off my day with sugar. Another thing I want to work on is eating more vegetables, particularly of the dark, leafy variety. I know they’re good for you, I generally enjoy eating them, and I feel better when I do. Overall, I want to eat more real food, the type where I don’t have to google the ingredients to find out what the hell they even are.
Acting Healthy: I’m a huge fan of running. I love it, I really do. But running when you’re out of shape is kind of really fucking awful. It’s painful and it’s discouraging. Not exactly what keeps you going when you’re trying to get back into the habit of being active and healthy. As much as I love running, I just can’t restart my fitness using only that. It’s too discouraging. So instead of making a goal to run everyday, I want to make a goal to be active everyday. This can mean quite a few things. Yes, it means running. But it also means sprinting. It also means hiking and swimming and yoga and pilates and dancing and whatever else I feel like doing that day. I know that some days running around is going to mean running around to different stores when I run errands, but even that is at least something.
Thinking Healthy: In short, I want to be egotistical again. It’s much more fun than second-guessing myself constantly or feeling insecure about the stupidest things. So, I will be nicer to myself. I’ll give proper recognition to my strengths and a realistic evaluation of my weaknesses. I’ll look into affirmations, and I will try to take myself seriously enough to do them.