Guest post by Sophia

The word health encompasses so much more than just eating “good” foods and “working out”. It means treating your body with as much respect as you can and loving it in the best way you know how. Nobody is perfect and this isn’t always easy, but the goal of true health is to treat yourself with respect and value who you are. If this means working out intensely each and every day? Awesome. If it means going on long walks with your dog while sipping a coffee. Also awesome. Each person’s way of living is unique to them, and if you’re looking to live your healthiest lifestyle, you just need to find what works for you.

Now I made this sound easy, and let’s just be real, it’s totally not. I remember being unhappy with my lifestyle, and wanting to make a change, yet being SO unbelievably overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. I didn’t like how I looked, or how I felt, or how I felt about how I looked, and I wanted to become “healthy.” People left and right want to tell you all about how spectacular a specific diet, food, beauty product, workout routine, etc. is and how it “changed their life!” and it suddenly your health journey is no longer truly YOURS.

fresh produce

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It doesn’t take much more than a walk through your local grocery store to become insanely overwhelmed by food and nutrition. Labels on every package are telling you that their product will magically help you burn fat, or keep you full forever, or you’ll never get sick again. Your neighbor says going gluten-free made her lose ten pounds, so you look for those labels. Your uncle is on the quest for ketosis and says the ketogenic diet will make you shredded, so you toss  tons of cheese in your cart. But your best friend is vegan and unbelievably happy so you turn around and put it all back. Even the basics of nutrition are constantly contradictory. Fat makes you fat! Wait no it doesn't carbs do! Wait if you eat to much protein you’ll get bulky! Wait if you don't eat enough you’ll never see your abs! It’s understandably SO confusing.

That’s when you just have to strip it down to the basics. If you’re clearly lactose intolerant, than eating tons of cheese to stay in ketosis will not work for yah! If you enjoy meat and source it sustainably, don’t go vegetarian or vegan just because your friends are. If you hate the taste of kombucha, don’t force yourself to buy one each day because your fave celebrities are always sipping them on their Insta stories. If you love carbs, paleo isn’t worth it! The “miracle diet” for you is going to be the one that makes you happiest each day, and the way you eat should always be a positive aspect of your life!

It took me a long time to realize this, and I still have to consciously try each day to listen to my body and make the right choices for ME. For me that means training for my performance (not appearance!) goals at CrossFit on mornings that I have a lot of energy, and skipping the gym and just walking my dog or laying on the beach when I don’t. It means eating things that don’t hurt my tummy (unless I’m offered froyo or carrot cake, then all bets are off…), and whole, nutritious foods that keep me satisfied and full. It means finding time each day to be on my own with my thoughts, but also time each day to be around the people I love. It means singing to music in the car and making myself smile at my reflection each morning in the mirror, even if I have to fake it at first. It means lots of water and coffee, and fresh fruit always readily available. It means writing, and reading, and taking time to learn something new each day, even if it’s something small and silly (yesterday I learned that BOGO stands for buy one get one…only took me twenty years….).

When it comes down to it, each day I strive to make myself as happy as I can, and you should to! A healthy lifestyle is one that you should be able to sustain forever, and that should sustain YOU forever. It is so important to get the most that you can from each day, and while each day won’t be perfect, you will most definitely be happier overall if you prioritize ALL aspects of your health. So sit down, think it out, and come up with what health truly means to you. Find out the the foods you love (ALL of them are important to your health, mental and physical! Especially ice cream!), the hobbies you love, the people you love, and the parts about you that you love, and don’t ever let yourself spend a day without them.

Sophia is a 20 year old college student born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. She attends Claremont McKenna College in California and is double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. After coming a long way in her health and fitness journey, she is passionate about writing and sharing her thoughts, tips, recipes, and personal stories through her blog and Instagram, @simplysophiarenee. She believes in balance and sustainability when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, and is working towards achieving this each and every day and hopes to help others do the same.

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