As a high school senior, college applications have been an overwhelming force. But to be truthful, writing these applications was an opportunity to be reflective. And one of my supplementary essays asked me what my favorite word was.
I knew when I first read that prompt, I knew that “healthy” was definitely NOT one of my favorites. I’ve had a hard time with the word “healthy.” I was told to reach a “healthy” weight, told to eat a “healthy” diet, to exercise in a “healthy” way, to have a “healthy” relationship with my food.
And during that time when the doctor and my friends told me these things, my head was screaming NO KIDDING, YOU THINK I DON’T WANT TO BE HEALTHY? I CAN’T BE HEALTHY BECAUSE IT’S PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HARD FOR ME.
“Healthy” was an overwhelming goal, it was to be frank, an annoying and unattainable goal at the time. And much of it has to do with how modern culture has warped the definition of this word. For as long as I remember, “healthy” has been characterized as having a lean physique, always going to the gym (preferably a SoulCycle, boxing, or HIIT workout), eating big green/grain/veggie bowls, and doing daily morning meditations. The food and exercise industry has planted a very deliberate and structured and specific image of this “healthy.” There is a clear and fine line between “healthy” and “unhealthy.”
Things just get even better when we have influencers on Instagram and YouTube living this incredibly healthy life. But rather than providing motivation, all these images compounded creates an incredibly pressuring and burdensome responsibility to be “healthy.”
And so what fueled my recovery was not striving for that “healthy” image, but rather a “well” image. Well seemed more approachable, more manageable. Well was a much more flexible definition.
Sometimes I might feel great after eating a burger. Sometimes I might feel a bit sick after eating a burger. And wellness lets me focus on maximizing those feeling great moments whereas healthy would automatically label a burger as unhealthy.
And so I choose wellness over healthy. Likewise, I hope society can strive for feeling well. To be at peace with their body. To be content. Rather than feeling the burden of having to fit into the extremely strict and overwhelming definitions of healthy.
Do you choose well over healthy too?