What is healthy?

Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in Food

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Staying healthy is hard. It is hard when you have a full time job, it is hard when you have to travel, it is hard when you have kids, it is hard when the weather is cold, it is hard when you are broke. But we don’t have to give up.

My first glimpse into nutrition occurred when I visited my uncle in California one summer. I was 14 and I marveled at the wheat grass growing on his roof. I drank fresh juices; I ate cheese made of soy, quinoa, sprouted bread and raw fish. I cherished this experience and continued to pursue this interest as a nursing major and nutrition minor at the University of Pennsylvania.

After college, I moved to the beach in California where I became my ideal definition of health. I hiked three miles in the canyons three times a week and I did a juice cleanse for 90 days. I was also 25 with a great metabolism, a nurse working only 3 days a week, and I spent the remainder of my time at the beach. Not exactly sustainable.

Once I began travelling for work the challenges to being healthy seemed insurmountable. Not only was I stuck in airports, on airplanes and in cars, but also, I was traveling to remote areas. Many times dinner was from Walmart or Applebee’s and the hotel gym was an old closet with a dilapidated treadmill. It took an extreme amount of effort to find grocery stores and stock up on healthy snacks and make working out a priority.

As life continues to change, I find it increasingly important to define “healthy”. These days, healthy for me is enjoying life through balance and moderation, staying active and focusing on a natural, unprocessed diet.  A 90 day juice cleanse isn’t as appealing, but a smoothie for breakfast makes me happy. Hiking for hours a week isn’t realistic but getting at least 20 minutes a day at the gym gives me energy and allows for a glass of wine later! These options are more sustainable and include a crucial part of healthiness… enjoying life.

Though our specific scenarios may be different, we all have obstacles to becoming and staying healthy. Wheat grass and intense hikes may not be practical, but leg lifts on the plane, taking the stairs and carrying your healthy groceries for several blocks are choices we can all make. Healthy can be packing apples and oranges for a snack instead of potato chips and finding restaurants that source fresh, local, unprocessed food options.

Try not to make excuses. Make working out a priority every day, and seek out fresh and natural food choices. Engage, embrace and enjoy your body.

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