I no longer consider myself a health nut.
I know that sounds strange and contradictory, seeing as my blog title contains the phrase “Health Nut” — but it actually works perfectly. And I’ll tell you why. It’s the “Sweet” that makes all the difference.
But I’ll get to that later.
First, let me just say that my views on healthy living evolve on a daily basis as I gain new information and acquire different life experiences.
That being said, here is my current philosophy on health:
Whole food is healthy food. Avoid processed food as much as possible. Eat what makes you feel good, energetic and happy. Now, here’s the kicker: NEVER limit yourself to the point of causing stress. Allow yourself to indulge. Recognize that happiness is the most important thing when it comes to physical and mental health. The biggest epiphany I had in the past year is that stress is the root of (if not contributing factor to) most, if not all, physical and mental problems we experience.
Example: If you think that dairy is causing acne, but avoiding cheese makes you miserable, weigh the pros and cons. Take a look at the situation from an objective, experimental perspective.
I use this example because it is exactly what I went through. I was dead-sure that dairy was causing me to break out. Anytime I indulged in cheese, I would anticipate a pimple and proceed to feel guilty before one even appeared. My thoughts would race, my anxiety would flare and I felt like I failed myself. I felt like I failed my own progress – I assumed that any pimple that popped up around that time was directly caused by my own lack of willpower. One day, I decided to screw it and eat what I wanted and not feel guilty. I made a conscious effort to push the thoughts of guilt and self-blame out of my mind. After continuing with this mindset, it eventually became easy to push aside those negative, inhibiting thoughts and feelings. I talked to myself a lot. I reassured myself a lot. I spoke to myself as if I were advising a friend. And my skin started to get better. I started to feel happier. This is over-simplified for the sake of this example (it took a very long time to reach that final point and it’s still a work-in-progress). But because of that experiment and others like it, my entire philosophy on health has changed.
I decided that I can’t let my thoughts take over. I can decide how I react to my thoughts. I don’t let them happen to me.
Now, back to the name “Sweet Health Nut.”
In case you don’t know why I originally chose that name, here’s a little backstory. My blog was originally “Health Nut with a Sweet Tooth,” which I still think is super cute. I chose it because I describes me to a tee. But I realized that it’s just way too long (especially for a URL!)
I chose this name because, even at my most intense health-nut moments, I could never quite kick my sweet tooth. Originally, my blog name referred to the fact that you can still be healthy despite having a sweet tooth. I even completely eliminated sugar in all its forms from my diet at one point. It’s crazy to look back now at that point in my life, because I was trying to help myself, but I was just making matters worse. I kept giving myself more and more things to stress about. More and more things to obsess over. More and more ways to fail.
The amazing thing is that my blog title works just as well now, if not better. I now take it to mean that you can be passionate about health, yet recognize that indulging in chocolate and sweets doesn’t make you less healthy. It actually makes you healthier because you have achieved balance.
This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to consume sweets to be healthy. It just means that each individual needs to asses their personal emotional and physical needs because “healthy” is different for everyone. (On a side note, it’s also important to go to a doctor and get tested for any deficiencies). If you are happiest and healthiest on a raw vegan diet, that’s amazing! But, of course, if you feel happy and healthy eating fast food every day… well, you can probably guess my feelings on that! I’m talking within reason, people! Moderation is key.
In a nutshell, I think that there is a spectrum of health that varies from person to person, yet should, at a minimum, include the basics I outlined in the beginning (eat whole foods and abstain from preservative-laden food). You don’t need to be a health-superhero if that lifestyle isn’t right for you because life is worth living to it’s fullest and happiest.