Find What Makes You Feel Healthy

Find What Makes You Feel Healthy

Be natural. Be positive.
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Recently, I've spent a lot more time on Facebook that I would really care to admit. I've seen a lot, a lot, of things in the past week alone. I've seen videos of "this will restore your faith in humanity!" and videos of adorable babies and dogs and cats and other wild animals. I've seen videos of "galaxy cakes," and other sweet treats. I've seen so much. True, the repetition of subject matter is probably just due to the lack of variety in the pages I follow, but still, it's like "We. Get. It."

But nothing makes me feel this way more than all of the articles and videos and posts I've seen about body types. It ranges from body positivity to body enhancement to all sorts of unnatural nonsense. And to be very frank, it's irking me a lot. In the past 3 days, I have seen an article about an obese girl and her ultra-thin friend wearing matching outfits to promote body positivity. I saw an article about a girl who refuses to apologize for her breast enhancement because "isn't it every girl's dream to see her boobs fill out her body?" Hmm... And then I saw an article about tooth bedazzling, where they use a process to glue Swarovski crystals onto your teeth. WHAT?! WHY IS THAT A THING?! And don't give me that because I can nonsense. That does not make sense to me. We all had braces, we know how irritating that was! Donate to charity if you have that much extra cash lying around. Or just buy a regular crystal structure!!! Macy's has a lot of them! And to the people who invented it- good job! Way to make money off of extorting people's unbelievable consumerist ideals.

There's so much media out there about "unnatural" body types, from people who are happy with the way they look and want to share that love to people who are willing to artificially alter themselves so they look more like their ideal body type. Both of those extremes are fundamentally unhealthy. The Body Positivity movement started off as something incredibly noble and necessary. Women in media were given unrealistic expectations for body size by models and Hollywood actresses, and the fact of the matter was that not everyone had the genes for full curves, flat tummies, and 3% body fat. Personally, I've struggled with this my entire life. My family's genes are built to be fuller and rounder with a slower metabolism. As a young girl being constantly and overwhelmingly bombarded with media, I was so upset that no matter what I did I couldn't get thin. For me, the movement was incredibly liberating. It told me that I could love my body either way, that I could be happy with who I was even if I was fat. It properly shamed fashion critics who called J-Law, a size-6, a plus-sized actress (this still pisses me off so much.) It was an incredibly effective moment too; curvy is the new thin. Progress was slow and at times a little backwards, but it was there nonetheless.

But now, people are taking it too far. The movement was intended to respect and create inclusiveness for all body types, but instead people are taking it as an excuse to be obese. Hold on now, hear me out before you get too mad at me. Obesity is not healthy. It causes so many health issues and puts you at risk for a cacophony of diseases. But the body positivity movement tells us that it’s okay, it’s okay for you to be overweight because every body type is beautiful. This is dangerous territory. Fellow Odyssey writer Olivia Scherzer says it perfectly in her article when she explains how the body positivity movement encouraged her to wolf down buckets of ice cream, just because it’s okay for her to not be skinny. That’s dangerous, because it is just unhealthy. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while, but eating junk food everyday just because you can is not a sustainable life choice. The article by Jessica Torres and Alle Connel, while an entirely noble and just cause, is just not valid. I’m sorry, but overweight people do not look like skinny people, no matter what they wear, and there’s a reason for this! Overweight people are not as “aesthetically pleasing” – to put it in the most crass way possible—because it’s unhealthy to be overweight. Centuries of favoring slim, healthy bodies evolutionarily has brought us to the point where we associate healthy with slimmer bodies, which is biologically correct. The most biologically natural human body does not have excessive amounts of fat on it. It’s unnatural for people to be obese. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that people need to be stick thin. No, we’ve already established that there are a million body types from thin to curvy, and all are natural. There is no one desirable body shape, but it can be generally agreed upon that a 330 pound person is not a natural body shape. That’s the result of bad choices or quite possibly an eating disorder or another type of disease. But when there is a way to avoid to that extra weight, we should try to avoid it, due to the health reasons behind it. Obese people are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, joint disease and so much more. The body positivity movement now needs to move from a focus on inclusivity of body types to a focus on gaining a more healthy body.

My personal story has helped me to see why this is so important. Like I said before, I struggled for years with my body. I dieted, I gave up sugar and fats, I wore shapers, I wore loose clothes. I tried so hard to get that body that I thought would be the most desirable, or to at least trick others into thinking I had that body. Let me be clear, I wasn’t fooling anybody. Eventually, it clicked for me. I just don’t have thin genes. I’m going to be a heavier set person my entire life—that’s just something I have to live with. The body positivity movement, of course, helped me to see that this wasn’t the end of the world. I could still be beautiful, so long as I felt beautiful on the inside. And I most definitely did not. My biggest indicator: I was tired of being out of breath when I ran up the stairs too fast. That is not healthy. So, I took the next step: I got healthy. I got the gym membership and actually force myself to go. I changed the food I eat, and even though it was a really tough break-up with pizza and ice cream, I’m truly so much happier for it. I dropped a few pounds, inevitably with all the increased cardio, but I’m still as round as ever. I don’t “look” any thinner or any better, but by God do I feel better. My mysterious back pain is gone, I can easily run around without breaking a sweat, I feel so much stronger. I made my choices to live a healthier lifestyle, and even though I didn’t get a perfect beach-body, I feel like I have one.

Of course, this by no means everyone needs to go workout every day and never eat processed foods ever again. It just means that you need to find what makes you feel the healthiest. If you’re more of a yoga person than a running person, by all means, do yoga. If you like swimming, swim. If you’re not really an active person much at all, then find whatever it means for you to be engaged and healthy. Maybe that's painting or reading. Maybe it's just going for walks or hiking. Maybe you are entirely happy with your physical condition because you may be overweight but can still do everything you want to do. That's incredible and I sincerely applaud you. I wish I could say the same. Whatever the specifics are, it's all about you finding what keeps you healthier and happier. This is what body positivity needs to move toward. It’s so much more natural this way. Changing lifestyles to find peace with your body—that’s positivity.

Like my mans Kendrick Lamar says,

I'm so f-----' sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin' natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretchmarks


Be natural. Be positive. You don't need to artificially enhance yourself, and you don't need to force yourself into loving a body you don't feel healthy in. You just need to find what makes you natural.

Cover Image Credit: Erica Mesirov

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I Drank Lemon Water For A Week And Here's What Happened

It has already changed my life.

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There are so many health crazes out there now, it's hard to tell what actually works and what doesn't; or more importantly what is healthy and what is making your body worse. I read about simply drinking lemon water and I figured that didn't sound gross or bad for me so I figured I would give it a try. I've been drinking it consistently for a week and a half and I already notice some results.

I've never been a fan of lemon in my water, I always refuse it at restaurants. You definitely have to find your sweet spot in lemon to water ratio, in what tastes good to you. I personally cut the lemon into quarters and use on quarter per day. I put the lemon quarter in the bottle and then continuously fill with water throughout the day. I still get the yummy lemon flavor all day because I do not squeeze the lemon. It took about a bottle or two to get used to the lemon flavor, and now I just crave it.

Lemon water is supposed to speed up your metabolism. Obviously, a week is not long enough to tell if this is fact or fiction but I have noticed a change in appetite. I feel like I do not get hungry as often as I did before. I saw this effect within 24-48 hours of starting the experiment. This seems opposite to a fast metabolism but we'll see.

I definitely feel more hydrated with lemon water. I drink a lot of water anyways, about 80 oz a day but for some reason with the lemon, it makes me feel better. I don't feel as sluggish, I'm not getting hot as easily, and my skin feels amazing. I am slightly skeptical though because the lemon almost makes my tongue dry requiring me to drink more water, so I have upped my intake by about 20oz. I'm unsure if the hydration is due to the extra water, the lemon, or both!

My face is clearing up and feels so much softer too, in only a week! I have not gotten a new pimple since I have started my lemon water kick, may be coincidence but I'm not going to argue with it.

I also feel skinnier as I feel like I'm not holding as much water weight. I only exercise lightly, for the most part, walking around a mile or two a day so we can eliminate exercise factor to the slender feeling.

I have a messy stomach. Everything upsets it, and even though lemons are very acidic, they have not affected me in a negative way at all. It almost seems like the lemon water is helping me digest the difficult foods that my stomach doesn't like. I'm nowhere near a doctor so don't trust my word but it seems to be working for me.

From the effects I've felt so far, it also seems like lemon water may be a great hangover cure! I haven't tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I can't say a negative thing about drinking lemon water so far expect you have to buy the lemons! If you try this for yourself though just make sure you are using an enamel saving mouthwash or toothpaste since lemons aren't so great for your teeth.

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Seeking Mental Health Support Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

In a world based on "likes," try to think about what really matters.

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I'm going to start this piece by telling you three truths and one lie, and I want you to guess to yourself which of my following statements fall into each category.

  • I am a semi-accomplished runner. I have run two full marathons and somewhere around ten halves. I am almost always in constant training.
  • My favorite part about eating a bowl of cereal is drinking the leftover milk after the cereal is all gone.
  • I was prescribed sleeping medication when I was 16; anti-depressants at 16 and anti-anxieties at 20.
  • Right now, I'd consider my therapist the person I'm closest to out of everyone in my life.

As much as I would love to tell anyone reading this that I'm a badass runner who has a thing for milk that tastes like fruit, only part of that would be true. And even the term "badass" is pushing it, in my opinion.

Yes, I am an avid runner.

Yes, I have been on a plethora of medications since my late teens (so, almost ten years).

Yes, my therapist is currently my BAE.

And guess what- NO, I do not like tainted sugary milk. It gives me literal chills to just think about.

My point of saying those things is not to give myself the opportunity to go on for another eight hundred words about my irrational fear of milk or to brag about my ability to run. We're actually going to drop the whole crusty milk thing right now because it's completely irrelevant and gross, and instead, I want to draw your attention to the actual purpose of this piece.

It starts with mental and ends with health. So, let's backtrack to the part about running and start there.

Let me be really honest with you- running helped save me. I do not run for the attention, I run for me. I run for my sanity. I literally run for my life. I am physically able to get myself to the gym every day and pull off four-hour races because of my MENTAL strength. My physical stamina would be complete dog crap if it were not for my mentality. Thanks to the trials and tribulations of my life, somewhere along the line, a very driven and durable mentality was forced to come through. I want to make this very clear- any and all physical strength originates from your MIND. Our thoughts and our perspectives determine what we are not only capable of doing, but what we're willing to do. So, if you say to yourself, "I want to run a marathon", it's not the craziest thought in the world. It is more than possible for anyone willing to put their mind to it. Hard work is the key to success, and in order to do literally anything, we may dream of-we must first have the kind of mentality to do so. And not only must we have the mental strength to start, but we have to develop it to a place that enables us to keep going. So, yeah, I can absolutely run 26 miles consecutively on a given day, but I would not have gotten to that point without the mentality of someone who refuses to give up.

But why bring up the fact I've been on a smorgasbord of medications or that I'm messed up enough to rely on someone I'm paying for emotional support?

Well, first off, there is no shame in seeing a therapist OR having to take medication when necessary.

I have buckets of shame stemming from a lifetime of poor decisions, but when it comes to seeking help in the form of therapy, I am the farthest thing but ashamed for that. It's actually the complete opposite. There're few things I can say out loud that I am proud of myself for, but being vulnerable (my new favorite term) and allowing a professional to help me during a time of confusion and life-shattering realizations. Well, that I am damn proud of.

It is stupid hard to face your past, your guilt, your mistakes- I know. But, think about it. What if we took the kind of attention and time we put towards our physical appearances and channeled it into progressing our minds and our sanity?

I'm not saying physical health isn't important, because it is extremely pertinent to a person's overall well-being, but the point I was making with my running is that our physical health cannot thrive without the initial mental capacity and willingness to push yourself.

I have recently deleted my Instagram app because I am so damn sick of seeing people, especially celebrities with a platform, using social media to promote bullshit that just doesn't matter in the big scheme of life. Yes, it feels good to look good- but what if instead of endorsing selfies we chose to get offline for a hot second and do something nice for someone else? There is no greater feeling than knowing you helped someone in need. It's damn good for the soul.

I'm not a professional when it comes to doing the right thing and being a good person, but because I am recovering from addiction and attending therapy regularly- I am gaining a world of new perspectives. Perspectives that scare the hell out of me- yet, they make sense.

We are all currently living a world filled with narcissism. A world that tells us to be perfect or it's not good enough. But what if we were able to band together and start talking about the things that matter? What if we were able to support each other rather than knock each other down?

I am willing to put all my bullshit on the line if it means I have the chance to reach someone who is hurting- and I think if we were all to be completely honest with ourselves, we'd all be able to recognize, to a degree, how much hurt we feel. Maybe not everyone is as broken as I am, but we all have pain. We all have regrets. We all wake up every day and think about that one thing we wish we weren't thinking about.

In a society based off expectations, what if we were to put our pride aside and lean on each other?

What if we were to take our cumulative obsession with physical beauty and say to ourselves: I am more than my reflection.

Looks fade, and so does our physical health. What will stay with us until the day we die is our soul. Our spirit. So, instead of using valuable hours of the day to decide what filter to use, why don't you call that friend who's having a tough time with her boyfriend and be her shoulder to lean on? Why don't you buy your mom flowers for no reason? Why don't you go to that yoga class or read that book you heard was good? Why don't you try talking to God?

I have been a victim to this world of physical fixation; I am the first one to stand up and admit I have spent way too much time being a shallow douche. But after spending years and years of my life focusing my energy into what other people think, I just don't give a shit anymore. And I think it's time more people get on board. It's tough feeling like no matter what we do, it won't compare to what the person next to us is doing- but that kind of thinking is the exact poison that has all of our mentality completely fudged up.

If you are not mentally stable, I can assure you the rest of your life is chaotic.

You don't have to go balls-to-the-wall and voice your story out to the world, as I am demonstrating, but talk to someone. Stop worrying about what other people think about you because the truth of the matter is that they don't freaking know you. They just don't.

If you've been awesome enough to take the time to read this article- I would like to leave you with this: there is nothing more admirable or beautiful than being yourself. It's cliché, I know. But the annoying thing about clichés is that they are true.

Mental health is excruciatingly important, so many people in this world are hurting, and it's about damn time for us to reach out to each other and assure one another, "it's going to be okay".

I promise you it means a hell of a lot more than double tapping a picture on Instagram.

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