Why the Link Between Your Body and Self-Image Is So Important

We live in a society where we tend to mainly focus on, and be concerned about our physical health; our appearance – how we look, or maybe more importantly how others look at us. We tend to measure and base our health, and sometimes-even worth, on numbers. Numbers coming from a scale, measuring tape, a calculator or likes on our last IG picture. We want to fit in so bad, whether it be in a certain BMI box or amongst the bikini pictures we see on social media, that these numbers, and how others see us become what’s important. And we forgot to focus on how we feel about ourselves, and how we make others feel. 

But what about what’s hidden underneath those numbers? I believe that is important too. I believe that health is not just determined by what we see on the outside; my weight or my body fat percentage. It’s also how I feel about my self and my body. What is a ”perfect” body worth if you’re not happy? 
I think the mental aspect is equally as important – that we’re happy with ourselves and how we look. 
This is not saying it’s ‘not okay’ to want to work on your body, become stronger, faster or lose weight – but do it for you. Because YOU want to, and not because others make you feel like you should to “good enough” or to “fit in”. 
Magazines and social media constantly influence us when we create body images or body ideals. But some of what we see and strive for is unreal – and yet we still judge others and ourselves by them. Leaving some people thinking “if I don’t look like that – I’m not good enough”. Some people dedicate their lives to work and on their bodies. To improve strength and minimize fat, and as a result they are amazingly fit. I think it’s impressive, and if that’s what makes them happy that’s great, but it doesn’t mean that’s the right way to live or that’s the way you have to look to be ‘good enough’. 
Healthy and being healthy is not as black and white is we want it to be. Like everything else in life we all have different preferences, and the same goes for what works for us to stay, or become healthy. Of course our bodies have some physiological needs in order to function properly for as long as possible, and that’s why we have some guidelines for nutrition as well as physical activity. But based off of these we still have freedom to choose what kind of physical activity we want to do, and what we prefer to eat. Some people choose to minimize certain food groups, other leave them entirely out, and others eat a whole variety of food groups  – we all prefer different things, and doing one thing is not necessarily better than the other. The same goes for physical activity. 
I think what’s important is that the choices we make regarding physical activities and what we eat, are based off of what gives us joy, rather than what we read, or was told was right for us. My personal experience is that joy builds and strengthens motivation. And I believe that motivation is the engine behind most things we do, and helps us to achieve goals and feel successful. I bet, if you base your health related choices off of what YOU want, and what makes YOU happy, they’ll last longer, and you’ll find more joy in doing so. 
I think being healthy is about balance. Balance between doing what physiological serves your body and what gives you joy, and strengthens your mental health and wellbeing. And I think as part of finding that balance, happiness is an as important part of being healthy as the physical side is. And I know happiness and wellbeing are not constants; we all have ups and downs – it’s part of life, and expressing those feelings are important too. But I strongly believe, we have the power to influence our own happiness – and others’. 
Liking your body, enjoying what you eat and the physical activities you do is not the key to happiness and wellbeing. But I believe it’s a good place to start. So let’s quit the unreal ideas of a perfect body and the mentality that we all have to look the same. And instead of judging and defining ourselves and others based on numbers and physical appearance, let’s start supporting each other in habits that not only increase our physical health but our happiness as well.

Eva is a student-athlete for the Red Deer College Queens women’s basketball team. Despite her first language being Danish, Eva is a terrific writer in English as well. She has a passion for intellect and depth, and the support for The Five You Need runs both ways- as Eva continues to demonstrate her obvious talent for creative writing. 

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