I am sure you have seen this quote countless times before, but what does it actually mean?
In the past I would read this statement and roll my eyes whilst thinking, ‘WRONG, a healthy mind has absolutely nothing to do with a healthy body. To achieve a healthy body, continuous hard work and strict commitment to exercising, eating clean 24/7 and restricting calories to attain a small frame is required’.
I know, how wrong was I?! It is actually heart breaking to say that I used to think like this, however this is exactly what society brought me up to believe, just like the rest of the world. If you are reading this and share similar views, I encourage you to read on.
Unfortunately, I was wrapped up and brainwashed with these thoughts for over seven, long, miserable years with a destructive eating disorder, crushing and masking any form of truth or reality.
Throughout several different hospital admissions, I frequently heard this phrase voiced by numerous medical professionals however I still had no idea what it truly meant or how it would help me overcome my issues. I still remember at the age of 15, I was rushed into A&E weighing 33.3kg with a BMI of 13 yet and I still managed to convince myself that I was completely healthy because I was thin.
However, the more I worked on my mental health, the more I understood how wrong I was and how my views were slowly killing me, I began to relate to this quote more.
My intention with this article is to empower individuals, by educating the importance of a healthy mind set and to prevent others from falling down the same destructive and dangerous spiral, which I did. I strongly believe in finding positivity from a bad experience or time in your life, therefore I will do everything I possibly can do with my story and journey to inspire others.
I just want to highlight this, I am currently the heaviest I have ever been (23 kilos higher than my lowest weight) and I am the healthiest I have ever been, both mentally and physically. Working on my mental health truly helped me to have a healthier body.
In my personal opinion, taking control of your own journey and your thoughts is essential to a healthy body. Accepting yourself and respecting your amazing uniqueness and realising your individual beauty is crucial; we can be so quick to shame and criticize ourselves, put down our ideas and simply feel like we are never good enough.
These thoughts are stimulated by many different factors such as; social media, the number on the scales, clothes sizes, criticism from others, unrealistic images in magazines, toxic friendships/relationships... the list goes on. However let me just make something clear, you are allowed to love yourself despite any of these factors. You are allowed to love yourself now, in this present moment and not when you lose five kilos or can fit into those super skinny trousers or to get attention from somebody to make them like you. I’m talking about NOW. You are perfect just the way you are. Beauty should not be seen as something physical, having a beautiful soul in my opinion is far more important.
Creating a ‘wellness toolbox’ is something that really helped improve my mental health. This method involves drawing a box and filling it with the things which you make you happy and you can pin it up on your wall so it acts as a constant reminder to dedicate time to yourself.
I would do one of my chosen activities when I was feeling negative about myself. Some of these examples include; drinking hot chocolate whilst watching friends, going for a walk or yoga practice, reading, meeting friends, reading, researching and making new recipes.
Whatever you choose I would strongly recommend turning off your phone (unless you’re using it to call somebody) so you can focus on you and you only.
I cannot stress enough that not seeing friends/family and avoiding social occasions due to fear of consuming ‘too many calories’ is NOT healthy. Excuse my French, but f*ck that! Fixating on a clean diet will never give you a healthy mind or body. Life is 100% about balance, do you really want to look back when you’re seventy and think oh wow, I’m glad I missed out on a social life and creating amazing memories because it meant I didn’t eat pizza. No. Exactly, live in the moment, go to social occasions, let go and have fun! Life is meant to be exciting and adventurous, so why punish or deny yourself of this?
I’m speaking from experience here, I have missed thousands of exciting occasions in the past because I thought, ‘oh good god, I could not possibly go, I will have to eat and drink!’
As you can imagine, I was miserable, lonely and far from healthy. The more I began to challenge myself and took a step out of my comfort zone, the happier I became. I know how scary change can be, but you owe this to yourself.
Another way I improved both my mental and physical health was by exercising. Exercising is a powerful depression fighter and can elevate your mood immensely. Now when I say exercise, I do not mean exerting yourself on hours upon end and revolving your life around working out. I mean just get moving, not to burn calories or to lose weight, but to lift your soul and mood. Do exactly what makes you happy or what you enjoy. The list is endless so get yourself out there and try different sports, you may be surprised to see what you actually enjoy and this gives you a true sense of accomplishment and will make you feel unstoppable. Exercising is all about balance, there are days I do yoga practice and then will go straight to dance rehearsals and then there are days where the only exercise I do is running out of money or squatting to get the chocolate out from the lowest shelf of the fridge.
Most importantly, begin to take control of what makes you happy. Caring about what others may say or think of you is simply timewasting and detrimental to your mental health. Remember this is your life and your health so make yourself proud and show the world how amazing you are.
Self love is the greatest medicine; you deserve to be truly healthy and happy both mentally and physically, remember the only person who is holding you back is yourself.
By Megan Lily Stanford @thehealthlady