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Health is how you feel, not how you look

How to move beyond the magazine cover model image and set your sights on real wellness.

The media has made health about sex appeal. 

Jordan Cieciwa

Jordan Cieciwa

When we buy what they are selling, we think our bodies need to look a certain way. Our bodies’ function is at best a distant second thought. That’s when things spiral out of control.

If we change our focus from sex appeal to performance and care for our bodies, we start to get wellness under control. Here’s how.

First let’s talk about food. It fuels our cells. Rather than worrying about food making us fat, we should choose what to eat based on the good that it can do for us.

The right food ensures each cell has the materials it needs to reproduce. A healthy, balanced diet ensures that our bodies can create enough hormones with the proper vitamins, minerals, and fats to stay healthy, sleep well at night and be alert during the day. It also ensures that our brains are fed.

A good fat percentage for men is 11-14 per cent body fat, and for women 16-23 per cent. Yet the media routinely show us cover models well below that. To get your body fat that low, something will be sacrificed. Too often, it’s the fuels we need to be productive at work, build strong cells and be our healthy best.

Now let’s talk about exercise. When you’re judging your body against idealized images, a simple healthy activity like walking is not enough. Sure, it can keep you healthy and fit, but it doesn’t necessarily create the cover model body. So you start thinking, if you’re not doing bootcamps, intense workouts with weights and high performance sport, you may as well not do anything.

We need to go back to the core reasons for exercise and activity. You need your heart to be strong so it beats as long as it can, avoiding heart disease. You need to move your joints through their full range of motion so you are strong and stable, free of pain and injuries. Getting your blood flowing releases hormones to get you thinking and focused.

We need to move for the sake of being human, feeling our best and staying out of the hospital. It’s not about getting a six pack. Your best memories will be made with movement, and adventure. 

So where does this leave us? What you need to do if you want to be healthy is very simple.

1)     Eat local, fresh food. If you are overwhelmed by how to cook it, connect with a dietitian or go to a cooking class, or go online. Have some fun with it! I put up videos regularly on healthy eating. If I can figure out healthy eating, everyone can.

2)     Move every day. During the work day, it’s a good idea to get up and move for five minutes every hour. After work, or before, try to get your heart rate elevated for 30 minutes on  most days.

3)     Get out and explore. The gym sucks, and most people hate it. I personally love lifting weights, but it’s not my healthy activity place. For health, you just have to go outside and walk. Visit your local tourism website and start visiting trails and local adventure hot spots.

4)     Have more fun in life. I’d like to see more people save their money and go travel. Not just sit on a beach, but actually go explore other countries and cultures. Book a trip with some active exploring; it will force you to get into shape. 

If you take one thing away from this, let it be that healthy living is easy.

There is a huge difference between sex appeal and wellbeing. If you want to avoid going to the hospital at an early age from something preventable, follow the advice in this article. Fix your focus, be healthy, and enjoy life.

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