Everyone these days seems to be doing the most intense, cross-fit-like exercise. They are able to run a half marathon before the sun rises and then drink a zero-calorie, zero-taste health smoothie and be good until noon. With the health and fitness standards being this absurd, how do we push harder to keep up?

The answer? We don’t try to keep up.

I was listening to a podcast (The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson) where they mentioned a quote that really resonated with me. The quote states that “suffering does not equal health”. I feel like this is something that really needs to be spoken about and promoted.

Food and diets

So much of the diet culture these days involves plans where the calories are far too low and the food leaves much to be desired. Following a diet that is leaving you hungry and craving specific foods is a red flag. Firstly, if you are consistently hungry, you will not follow through on the meal plan for long. Hunger erodes away at your willpower, and you eventually will end up binging on every possible food you can find. Secondly, if you are craving food, this is a sign that there is an imbalance in your diet – you are either not eating enough of a certain taste or a certain food group. Hunger and cravings make you suffer, and this does not equate to being healthy.

It is also very important to find foods that you enjoy eating. An eating plan will only be successful if it is sustainable. It will only be sustainable if you are feeling good about what you eating. A kale smoothie for breakfast may be very healthy, but you won’t be a healthy person if you are gagging it down every morning. Try out different healthy foods and find what works for your body, and more importantly, what you enjoy eating.

Exercise

We also need to take part in exercise that we enjoy. If we hate every step of our morning run, it is going to tear us apart mentally and emotionally. We will feel tired and unmotivated, instead of rejuvenated and well as we are supposed to feel when we are healthy. Try different yoga classes, cycling, kick-boxing or swimming and keep doing the one that you find enjoyable. Suffering through exercise will only lead to you loathing fitness.

Rest

The last aspect I want to mention is the important one: rest. In the competitive, fast-paced world we live in, we tend to believe the mindset that faster and harder is better. While an occasional intensive workout is great for your body, it is also important to slow down, relax and recover. If your workouts are continually taking absolutely everything out of you, they will, again, not be sustainable and you will be suffering. Your body will break down if you are always pushing to the absolute limits. Taking a mindful walk or a relaxed slow-paced yoga class may be what your health needs.

Your journey is unique to you

Remember that health is holistic. This means that it is great when your body is fit and you’re eating healthy food, but it also means that your mind must be in a good place as well. You do not need to be in a mind-space of suffering and if you are, then you are not well. Reassess your goals and your fitness plan, and know that suffering does not equal health.

Lots of light and love xx

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