We are flooded with messages and images of dieting and tips on “how to be thin” and “healthy”. Being thin has not always been desirable – it wasn’t until the 1800s that Americans became concerned with dieting. At the time, however, it wasn’t about being thin and “beautiful” – it was about minimizing fat to be healthy. Now, there are a plethora of diets but healthy has become synonymous with thin, but being thin does not mean someone is healthy and vice versa, being healthy does not mean being thin.
What does being healthy actually mean and what does it look like?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a physical, mental, and social well-being. But they also emphasize that a healthy lifestyle means leading a full life. Being healthy goes beyond exercising regularly and eating less junk food. Being healthy is about feeling good - both inside and out. Being healthy is a lifestyle and the WHO refers to this as a state of enhanced well-being, meaning that being healthy is a life-long process of wellness. It’s moving forward and making positive choices that impact your physical, mental, and social well-being with the goal of living a full life.
How does this apply to you in college? College can be stressful and chaotic. Being healthy can slip to the bottom of your priority list. Western culture and social media place importance on quick fixes to getting healthy, such as dieting, and it’s often misguided. The challenge for you then, when you’re thinking of eating better or exercising, is to ask yourself what would help you live a full life and what does that life look like? When answering these questions, try to come from a place of acceptance – you are uniquely you and your full life will not be the same as someone else. Lastly, take baby steps towards being healthy and see how you feel along the well. Being healthy is a life-long journey!