When you think of the words “healthy living,” what comes to mind? For me, the term usually conjures images of big green salads, a roaring fitness class at the gym, biting into a big juicy piece of fruit, or seeing a runner striding down the W&OD trail. The majority of us already know what kinds of things qualify as healthy behavior when it comes to our bodies. Eating well and being active are the basic tenants of health, and for good reason! They are crucial to our physical well-being. That said, it is not unheard of for those of us who are striving to lead a healthier lifestyle physically to let other elements of our total health fall by the wayside as a result.
I firmly believe that “healthy living” applies to not only physical, but to mental and emotional well-being as well. For those of us who have ever struggled with the emotional toll that being unhealthy inherently takes, this is especially true. When I was severely overweight, I often felt that I didn’t “deserve” the luxury of a massage, buying myself something nice, or just taking a little time to myself. I now realize how much more damage that way of thinking did to my overall progress in terms of my health. If I had allowed myself a little bit more slack, I think that maintaining my motivation to work towards weight loss and a healthier life would have been much easier.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, training for a half-marathon, or simply trying to engage in a new healthy habit or two, improving your health is never easy. We all deserve to be able to take some time every now and then to ensure we are keeping our emotional health in check, too. Living in The Little City, there are plenty of ways to give ourselves the mental or emotional breaks that we all deserve!
Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a little time to yourself. Take a stroll out in the spring sunshine (in between spring showers, of course) and wander through Cherry Hill Park. Grab an empanada at the Farmers’ Market one Saturday and allow yourself to really enjoy it. Or plan a mini-staycation one weekend, where you pretend like you’re out of town and thus have no commitments but the ones that you actually want to keep – like meeting a friend for brunch, or taking the family into D.C. for a museum trip.
If you’re looking for something a little more targeted, consider getting a relaxing, stress-reducing massage. There are multiple massage parlors in town, as well as not one, but two massage schools. Granted, massage can get a little bit pricey so if you’re looking to save some cash, consider booking an appointment at one of the latter. Your masseuse will be a student and may be a little less experienced, but you can often get an hour-long massage for no more than $35 dollars as a result. Another option might be just to carve out half an hour to get a pedicure at one of Falls Church’s many nail salons. You get the benefit of being pampered, without taking too much time out of your schedule.
I’m not trying to encourage anyone to use “emotional health” as an excuse for why they skipped last week’s workouts, or as justification for why they got Five Guys each day this week. But if you need to skip a workout one day because you’re feeling really stressed about your hectic schedule, or if you grab a hamburger for lunch once in a while because that’s what you’re really craving, you should be able to do that, too. Guilt-free.
Gretchen Powell is a fitness and healthy living blogger in Falls Church. She is not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or medical doctor, and a medical professional should be consulted before undertaking dramatic diet changes. For more, visit honeyishrunkthegretchen.com.