"Health" has become such a loaded word in our society, and is something I believe many people struggle with, regardless of their histories with mental illness or eating disorders.
This has been something that I've been thinking about & struggling with since the first time I went to treatment. As I started working through my issues with food, body, and self-worth, I continued to run into this concept of "health" and how it impacted me throughout my recovery. My dietitian finally addressed it with me, and this was something that affects me deeply, even over a year later.
She told me, "Charlotte, you used to equate health with being skinny. You have to redefine what health means for you."
While I think it can be helpful to point out what's not considered healthy for me anymore, I'd much rather focus on all of the things that make me truly healthy. This change of perspective can help me on the days where it feels hard to acknowledge that what I'm doing, right here, right now, is what's healthy for me.
Health for me means a number of things:
It means that I eat.
It means that I value a good night's sleep and constantly aim for 8+ hours a night.
It means that I walk and move my body, to get fresh air, and to regulate my mood.
It means that I take medication every day, to keep myself stable and feeling alright.
Health means that I make time to spend with family and friends, but can set boundaries and be comfortable spending time alone.
It means going to therapy, showing up and working hard in treatment. It means that I recognize that I am not only allowed, but also encouraged to reach out when I need extra help.
Health means writing, blogging, and creating art. It also means slowing down, listening to my body when I'm over-exerting myself.
It means that I have a doctor who I see regularly, getting tests done when they're needed, and making any and all mental and physical health concerns known.
Health means that I finally had surgery on a chronic shoulder injury after nine years.
It means practicing new coping skills, expressing my needs, and trying to show myself compassion.
It means loving myself and others as fully as I can.
Health means having an ice cream cone with friends because it sounds good and enjoying the moment rather than stressing out about it.
Health means living as authentically as possible.
The amazing part of this is that health is always changing and evolving. Something that is part of what you consider to be healthy may no longer resonate with you in the future. And things that may not have seemed to be important to you can also become a huge part of your health, and what you value health to be.
I encourage you to think about what health means to you. Does it mean that you can keep up with your kids and your dogs, or does it mean that you do yoga and meditate a certain number of times every week? Is it about making sure you have enough energy to do what you want to do, or does it mean setting a goal, running a race, or trying new foods?
Health is very individualized. Think about the unique ways that health can manifest itself for you.
So I challenge you again, what does health mean to YOU?