March is also known as National Nutrition Month. Despite each month having a "spotlight" topic, why wait until May to focus on mental health awareness?

When we hear nutrition, we often think about the foods we have to give up to reach a certain weight. That's not a productive way to get in shape; if anything, it makes you less willing! Merriam-Webster defines nutrition as "the act or process of nourishing or being nourished" and I would like to imagine this extends to mental health, not just eating better and working out. Sure, when we work out, we release positive endorphins and feel encouraged to go back for results, but how often have you heard of a human not interested in instant gratification?

I try going to the gym a few times a week, but with my workload and job hours it is hard to balance a trip to the gym with my social life (especially if my plans include getting food!). I often indulge myself in burrito bowls, ice cream, stir fry, and the pasta bar...not to mention Door Dash. So when I hear about National Nutrition Month, I immediately think, "Oh, great, I should probably watch what I'm eating. I need to lose weight."

In reality, though, shouldn't we find peace with ourselves first? When we start to quantify our self worth through a scale number, we degrade our own perceptions of ourselves with hopes of reaching a number that is often unreachable. Body Mass Index rates your body in terms of your age, height, and weight and provides a range signifying being underweight, healthy, or obese. But BMIs mixed with media pressure to look like Kim and Kylie don't always result in a person losing weight. The person just plain feels bad about themselves.

Nutrition should be about fueling our bodies with the vitamins and nutrients they need and finding balance between guilty pleasures and healthy alternatives. Going to the gym should be inspired by improving metabolism, strength, endurance, and--most importantly--self love. Mental health is a 365-day obstacle, and when I say obstacle, I mean that the hurdles a lot of teens and young adults run into spawn from negative self-esteem and self-judgment. In fact, eating healthily and going to the gym might even make you feel better than, say, getting Campco or McDonald's every night.

But don't think you are any less of a person based on how often or what you eat! The media hammers into our minds that even being "average" isn't enough, but some advertisements nowadays are working on inclusion and minimizing Photoshop: take Aerie, Savage Fenty, and Adore Me, for example. It's all a matter of perspective. Nutrition shouldn't have a negative connotation, but neither should ANY body type.

Remember: You should NEVER feel pressured to lose weight or "get fit" because your partner, friend, family, or ANYONE insinuates you have to! Self-love need never be quantified unless it's abundant. Finding peace in who you are as a person is far more attractive than being a size 2. While healthy eating has positive attributes, focus more on loving yourself with all the little details you have going on. With peace comes prosperity.