There's one word we hardly ever hear in the body conversation: healthy.
When do I think a body is beautiful? When it's healthy. Whether that's at a size 0 or a size 10. Health happens differently for everyone. Thank your genetics.
Let's look at myself, for example. I am 5'0 tall, generally wear a size 4, with 32Ds. My abs can hold planks for an 80-minute yoga class, and also disappear post-Mexican food with the girls. I'm not overly exhausted, I don't have any chronic health issues and I feel healthy.
In a world of extremes, the only body types we talk about are skinny or curvy. Saying every body is beautiful cannot be a mask for an unhealthy lifestyle, whether you're supplement and fitness obsessed, or using food to relieve stress.
I'm want to start a different conversation about body confidence attained through feeling healthy, both emotionally and internally. How we feel about what we see in the mirror shouldn't rely on aligning ourselves with celebrities and/or models of similar height, weight, age, etc.
Every body is different and looks healthy in different ways. When thinking about if you're fitting into that healthy category, ask yourself these five questions:
1. How am I sleeping?
Sleep is one of the biggest indicators of daytime stress and health. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports that sleep helps heal and repair your heart and blood vessels, as well as aid in proper hormone levels dealing with feelings of hunger and fullness.
When your body doesn't adequately rest, it's performance in daily life is hampered. Embrace the power of the Zzzz's.
2. How many different colors were in the foods I ate today?
Brightly colored foods equal vitamins. Vitamins equal healthy fuel for your organs to function properly. It's a no-brainer.
3. How restrictive am I being?
You don't have to restrict every little thing you eat. You deserve tacos and ice cream. These are basic human rights.
I don't make it easy for myself to indulge. I don't keep ice cream in the freezer all the time. Therefore, if I have enough motivation to put on pants and a bra to go out and get some, then I'm going to let myself have it totally guilt-free. Going out to dinner every once in a while isn't a crime, either.
4. Am I eating carbs?
Eat. The. Bread. That's right, you heard it here. Eat carbs.
Your body needs carbs so you aren't consistently eating. Carbs have longer chains of “stuff” (not the technical term) for your body to break down to plateau your blood sugar levels. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting your carbs from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy products.
Now, for those of us who are allergic to basically everything (lactose, whole wheat, peanuts, etc. blaming my mom's genetics for this one), a little regular pasta never hurt anyone.
5. How do I feel?
This should be addressed in two parts: internally and emotionally. The easier one is internal.
Is everything functioning properly as far as digestion, breathing, etc.? If the answer is yes, then good job. If the answer is no, then you're more than likely consuming something that has hindered some bodily process.
The more difficult part of this question is, "How do I feel, emotionally?" Are you overly stressed? Unbalanced? This all affects your health and how you feel about yourself.
Over the years, the happier I've become on the inside, the better I feel about what I see on the outside. Learn how to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your negative emotion or stress, deal with it and move on. Leave work at work, do something every single day that makes you smile, and find a moment of peace at least once a day.
Having obsessive body goals is selfish because you're giving up your sanity, time and overall well-being for a goal that pop culture says you should have. On the flip side, having health goals is selfless because you're living a longer, fuller life for yourself and those who love you.
You can give more of yourself and your time when you feel healthy, both inside and out. Find healthy goals for your kids, your parents, your spouse and your friends.
Let's leave the body labels behind and find YOUR healthy instead.