What does "healthy" mean to you?

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Interrobang's new health columnist, Katherine Ricica, asks that we meditate on what being "healthy" means to us.

Hello readers! My name is Katherine Ricica and I will be writing for the Interrobang fitness column.

I am taking over for Karen Nixon-Carroll who has been writing in this column for many years. I look forward to educating and informing you on fitness, nutrition, wellness and everything in between.

First, a little about me! I am 22-years-old and I work at the Fanshawe Student Wellness Centre as a full-time fitness consultant. I work with all of the free member services, orientations, free information for members and getting all of our participants started on the right foot.

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I am a graduate of the fitness and health promotion program here at Fanshawe College. I am a certified personal trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and a certified group exercise instructor with the American Council of Exercise. Additionally, I have a certificate in level one cardio kick-boxing with Fitness Kickboxing Canada. I have aspirations of attaining more education and certifications throughout my career in fitness.

One of my foundational beliefs behind fitness is that exercise is meant to be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate. We often get caught up in worrying about good foods vs. bad foods, the next fad diet or workout style, or if we have time for a seven minute workout on our Peloton. We are constantly bombarded with news articles, scientific studies or Facebook posts telling us about “health;” what foods we need to avoid, what tea we need to rub on our cellulite, or what waist trainer is the most efficient for shrinking stomach fat. As a fitness professional, I think that many of us need to take a step away from the trends, fads, and studies and formulate our own opinions on health, fitness and lifestyle.

What does the word “healthy” mean to you? The World Health Organization (WHO) says “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It doesn’t state that healthy means you need to be on the keto diet, paleo, low fat, high protein, intermittent fasting, lifting weights, a yoga guru, sports all-star or any of the above and more. Just simply that we are in a balanced state within our bodies. How simple. And yet, every day we over complicate and criticize how our neighbor eats, drinks and exercises.

We all have a different definition and picture of health. For one individual health might look like being able to play with their children and get up the stairs without being winded. For another person health might be getting on a pair of jeans from high school. And for the third person it might be getting their blood pressure and cholesterol levels back into the “normal” category. See how everyone’s definition of health can look different based on their life experiences? And none of them are wrong, just a different perspective.

Again, I ask, what does “healthy” mean to you? If you have a fitness/lifestyle goal, why is it important? How is it going to improve your life? Once you understand that health isn’t about the latest trend, fad or study, but rather being kind to your body and treating it with respect, then you can begin your journey to total health and wellness.

Katherine Ricica is a full-time fitness consultant at the Student Wellness Centre.