Be healthy, not perfect

-By James Kettle

As the break comes to a close and the return real life sadly approaches, I have been reflecting on my choices I made in regards to my health. If all of Menton could see what happened in Milan and Vienna, I would likely be ask to abdicate as a staff writer for health and wellness. But in fact, this obsession with perfection is the reason so many people never accomplish their fitness goals. In health, diet, and exercise, persistence is what truly matters. For the past 3 months, I have been tracking my macronutrients, weight training for 5 hours a week, this coupled with rugby practice made my body tired, weak, and sore. I wasn’t performing at my best, and if I continued anymore I probably would have injured myself. Luckily break was perfectly timed, and it was glorious. Pastries, bread, endless cappuccinos, more red meat in Vienna than I had previously seen in my entire life, little sleep, late nights, and most importantly a complete lack of training. This may sound unhealthy, and that’s because it is. However, it was what my body needed. I was training at my best and as a result, I became fatigued, what I needed was a time when my body was under no stress.

Coming back from Italy on a 7 hour train ride that should have been 4, I was tired, delirious, and cranky, at that point I knew my break was over. I may have partied a little too much, ate a little too badly, and slept far fewer hours than I needed to. However, as the train pulled into Menton, I realised that a healthy lifestyle is like brushing your teeth – just because you miss one morning or night doesn’t mean that you will (or should!) throw away all commitment to oral hygiene. It means that you’ll say, “I messed up, I’ll do better next time”. This mentality is the same for a healthy lifestyle.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, get stronger, get healthier, you’ll never achieve your goals if you demand perfection from yourself. If you yo-yo from an incredibly restrictive lifestyle to one of pure self indulgence because you ate a one kinderbar, you’ll be doing yourself no favours. Ultimately, it demands a paradigm shift. You shouldn’t be on a diet in pursuit of a finite, masochistic goal, you should be on one in order to be best equipped for everything that life throws at you. You shouldn’t run because you want to lose 5 kilos in 35 minutes, you should run because it’s fun and good for your heart. You shouldn’t lift weights because you feel you need a six pack, you should lift weights because it will improve every aspect of your life. Seeing being healthy as chore that one does 4 weeks until holiday to look good will just lead to an unsustainable lifestyle and failure in any health goal.

The first step is understanding how to live a healthy lifestyle, the next is to do it, and the hardest is to keep it when you fail. In 60 years you won’t remember the day you ate too much chocolate, but you will remember when you decided not to eat a bar a day. As students we have stressful lives, no matter how close we live to the beach. Between school, friends, homesickness, we go through a lot, trying to be healthy shouldn’t add anymore unneeded stress. If you decide to live a healthier life, understand you will fail at times, it will be easier to quit, and it will not be easy. But also understand that you are making the greatest investment you possibly can: to your future health. So as we all return to Menton, embrace the mistakes of break, and learn to be well again.

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