We live in a culture where health tabloids, fitness articles and “How To Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life” advertisements flood our screens. Daily, there are a thousand little messages that try to get in our head. As we scroll through our Instagram feeds, or gaze enviously at the actors/actresses “perfect” figure, there is a small little voice inside of us that says “I wish I had that. If I could only lose ten pounds, if my hair wasn’t so frizzy, if my teeth were a little more straight, fill in the blank, then I’d be satisfied.”
As someone who lives in Los Angeles and works in the advertising industry, one is quick to realize that people really care about their IMAGE. Can we be real?
So, we try the latest Paleo diet, go on a three day juice cleanse and sign up for the local Pilates club. Maybe that’s not you, but somewhere in the back of the mind, there is a pressing thought to attain an image that in all actuality is unattainable or might even be unhealthy.
Thus, it begs the question, what is healthy? Is living healthy having six pack abs and a mile time of under eight minutes while eating kale salads on the daily? No, far from it. Living healthy is more than just attaining a certain image, it is becoming whole in body, mind and spirit.
You can be skinny and unhealthy. You can be working out at the gym six days a week and be unhealthy. I learned this the hard way.
We live in a culture that not only demands a particular expectation in our IMAGE, but also our daily living. (Think of what your Pinterest boards look like for a moment). Thus, the pressing demands of life cause an emotional and mental strain that we all know as stress. And, because we are a culture that celebrates ambition, driven by passion and the need to be busy all the time, we become burdened, anxious and lack for a better word, unhealthy.
The key to living and loving a healthy life is balance. Pursue your passions and be driven by ambition, but also learn what it means to find rest.
Unplugging from the media separates you from society’s expectations and allows you to tap into God’s heartbeat. Rest is necessary for the body, mind and spirit. It isn’t an option. When we learn to unplug from society’s IMAGE, we will not only slow down our heart rates&become more relaxed, but we will find our true image in Christ.
In finding time to rest, I have learned what it means to live a balanced life. While I have been making dietary changes and have been on a specific workout plan, I have found that there is so much more to all of these little daily choices that I am making. It is a part of a bigger picture.
In these moments of unplugging from the advertisers(which is ironic since I work for an advertiser), I have stopped comparing myself and my life to my social media explore feed. In doing so, through the good, bad and ugly, I have felt stronger and more content with life than I ever had before.
In college, I wrote my Senior Thesis on the dark side of social media. In my research, it was shocking to find how much social media plays to our thoughts and actually creates more anxiety than less. Thus, unplugging does not mean getting on your phone or sitting down to Netflix. Rather, Unplugging is finding rest in the Father, and discovering that every healthy choice you make is in effort to take care of His temple and become the person that He has designed you to be.
You are so unique for you are an IMAGE of God, no matter what flaws you may have, no matter what colour skin you have, no matter what size skirt or jeans you wear, no matter if your smile is “perfect” or not, and no matter if you meet society’s definition of “a successful and healthy life.”
A healthy life starts with a healthy mind. May you continually strive to find your God given image on this health journey. May you come to own who you are, for no one else on earth is like you. And, may you seek first the love of God that will fill your heart and mind with complete joy.
Find rest. Grab a group of friends and go for a hike and get those endorphins running. Have a taco night at your house. Find time to laugh and smile. Enjoy an ice cream cone in the park. Do whatever it is that will bring a little bit of heaven to earth.
Healthy living is so much greater than anything that you will ever read or watch on screen. It is something that you must find. You must learn to love yourself. And, you must be content with the overwhelming, astonishing love of Christ that will give you a new image, an IMAGE that is far greater than anything that we will strive to try to find through earth alone.
Will I still be running 10-15 miles a week? Yes. Will I still enjoy my kale and quinoa salads? Yes. But, my definition and view of healthy living has entirely changed. And, it’s changed for the better.
Cheers to each and every one of you who are finding what it means to live and love healthy! One day at a time.