Health, Beauty & Fitness: How Do You Define These?


To follow up on my previous post on how we confuse Health, Beauty & Fitness, using them as synonyms, I want to dive into defining each value. I started this post and have re-written it several times, so it is proving difficult to define these three things, so I’m going to roll with what I have and hopefully it will help prompt you with your own definitions.

Starting with Health.

As defined by the WHO (World Health Organization) – Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

This is a broad definition and we will need to pick it apart, so let’s try. If there is one thing we should be able to all agree upon it is that Healthy does not look the same on everybody. The last part of the WHO’s definition may be the only universal part of the definition, meaning that the absence of disease or infirmity (even though it only says Health is not just merely the absence of) is required to be considered Healthy, right?

Well not necessarily, it depends on who you talk to and where you do your researching. Even a quick google search leads to an endless list of resources from Wikipedia to the CDC, that lump together Infectious diseases, medical conditions (such asthma, allergies, lice, etc.) and even Psychological differentials.

Ok, so let’s go back further, in middle english the word disease means the ‘lack of ease’ or ‘inconvenience’ so the very word is extremely board and reaching.

The allergies and asthma I have had my entire life by the above definition would mean I am not considered Healthy. I now need glasses when using a screen due to my astigmatism and slight near sighted-ness, again not Healthy.

Another quick gander of research and you will uncover a slew of professional athletes in the prime of their careers and lives, that died of Heart Attacks. The one that always stuck with me and coloured my understanding of Heart Health was that of Sergei Grinkov, the two time Olympic skating champion that died at age 28, while practicing with his wife. It was discovered after his death that he had Heart Disease, that it ran in his family, his father had died four years prior of the same condition.

Genetic pre-dispositions are things that are completely out of our control, yet they affect our ability to be classified as truly Healthy and can unreasonably lead to judgement by others.

There are communicable diseases that we have created vaccines for such as Measels, Mumps and Rubella. Yet there is a strong contingent that believe taking a vaccine will render you un-Healthy, that if we just eat well, exercise, sleep enough you can beat these diseases.

There is no scientific proof that this is correct – COVID although worst for the elderly and those that have compromised immune systems still took the lives of those that appeared perfectly ‘Healthy’ although perhaps they had unknown genetic pre-dispositions, which without COVID would have been consider Healthy for a much longer time.

What about Narcissists? It is a personality disorder but I wouldn’t say it is inconvenient or creates lack of ease for the individual; they don’t know any better, in fact it enables people to completely ignore others wants and needs. Sounds pretty self serving and possibly even convenient. But is this Healthy? I am getting a bit off track.

This week the goal is to define Health, which includes Mental Health and to me that starts with the ability to accept yourself as you are, regardless of pre-dispositions or others’ opinions, perceptions, etc.

Is it Healthy to be so competitive that you will train yourself into exhaustion? That you control your diet to the extent that you weigh every meal, or count every calorie. Stressing over a missed workout, or maybe having a day, a week, a month of indulgences? Is a need for control Healthy? What toll does the goal of Physical Health take on our Mental Health.

Resiliency and Self Love are key to Mental Health, being able to feel safe, to be everything that you are, is required.

Without that safety, those that suffer from Mental Health concerns such as depression, anxiety, Autism, ADHD, Chromosomal disorders and other psychological disorders will always feel out of place and unable to access help for fear of judgement.

How do you view Health? Do you separate Physical and Mental Health? What, if anything, has the above made you rethink? What are some questions you can start asking yourself and others?

Now let’s explore Beauty.

Beauty shows up in so many different areas of our lives and in our society. From art, theatre, music, fashion, architecture, nature and humanity.

Beauty by definition, Oxford languages, is a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

I remember reading the 1996 issue of People’s Sexiest Man Alive featuring Denzel Washington, I’m pretty sure it was that issue and timeline fits, as I remember reading it at the Orthodontist office. Any who, part of the article describes how we, as in humans, find symmetry to be beautiful. Denzel, has incredibly symmetrical features, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. It also showed other celebrities and the break down of of their features and the percentage of symmetry to people that found them ‘Beautiful’.

When looking at a piece of art, do you dissect it? Does the symmetry bias apply? Does how it makes you feel matter more?

Part of Beauty to me is how something makes you feel – like with a beautiful song, the emotions that a tune can stir within someone are incredible. Similar with a beautiful painting, we can’t always put into words what exactly we like but we can usually articulate how we feel when viewing it.

Seeing the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza, (privileges I have yet to experience but I can imagine), and the Louvre. What draws us to these and other monuments? The sheer size, maybe. The human feat of construction, probably. The feeling of wonder, awe and accomplishment of creating such Beauty, definitely.

I live in Alberta, close to the Rocky Mountains, and I never cease to be amazed when driving near Canmore all the way until past Revelstoke. The mountains, the terrain, the expansiveness is unreal. Even the prairies, the drive to Saskatoon with the ever popping up Canola fields with their yellow blooms, can be breathtaking. Similarly the ocean and all the wondrous unknown that it holds has colours and beauty that is hard to describe. Bioluminescence anyone?

How is it when we apply the concept of beauty to fellow Humans we start with a list of desirable characteristics instead of that same feeling?

Slim bodies, hard bodies, tone bodies, big boobs, small waist, peachy bum, long eyelashes, nails done (fake or real), clothes on point, tall but not too tall, short but not too short, justtttt right.

How do you view Beauty in your life? How does you perception of beauty apply or affect how you live your life? Where would you rank Beauty as a value?

Lastly let’s define Fitness.

Well interestingly but not surprisingly there are several different ways to apply the term Fitness – I like the Oxford languages, because they are easy to find and provide options so here is what comes up when we look at Fitness –

  1. the condition of being physically fit and healthy.”disease and lack of fitness are closely related”
  2. the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.”he had a year in which to establish his fitness for the office”
  3. BIOLOGY: an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.plural noun: fitnesses“if sharp teeth increase fitness, then genes causing teeth to be sharp will increase in frequency

If those aren’t some mind f*cks (pardon the language) than I don’t know.

Fitness, as in being physically fit and healthy, is interesting because it goes right into the concept of disease that we looked at earlier in this post and have determined that it’s really hard to narrow people down to the one piece.

Again a reminder of all the Elite athletes that have been found to suffer from pre-dispositions. The other factor I want to bring into this arena is the idea of performance enhancing drugs and the sheer number of high performance athletes found to be using them.

Would this fit into disease? According to many it would. The argument that addiction is a desire for connection, which I can accept and wrap my head around at times does not apply in this instance; the use of performance drugs is not for connection it is to get a leg up. This then would fall into the category of disease for me, because the idea of taking them is to separate yourself from peers not join in with them.

What would be your acceptable Physical Fitness level in your life? Keep in mind, I will dive into the societal and bigger picture of why we stay fit in the next post. What I want right now is for you to define what Physical Fitness looks like to you.

Is it the ability to walk up stairs without losing your breath? Is it being able to run 10km? A marathon? Is it being able to lift your kids/grandkids into seats. Is it being able to attend a yoga class and not be sore for a week after? Define what Physical Fitness is for you.

Now here is where my mind got a little f*ed – I hadn’t even thought of Fitness in terms of our roles within organizations and social structure but it’s there.

As mentioned above I really want to dive into this next week but my thoughts on this level of Fitness, or more so the question to pose here is have you ever had bias of ‘Fitness’? Meaning have you written off candidates for jobs due to the clothes someone is wearing or their appearance? Have you written off someone because of their weight or body shape? Have you thought someone might not be a fit because of their background?

I remember my friend’s Dad once told me that I would never be able to run a half marathon, we were watching his daughter (whom is crazy talented runner), run one of her first races. I think I was 22/23 years old at the time and thought that he was right, in that I couldn’t run the way she did. She is the human embodiment of a Gazelle, but, I could (and subsequently have) run a Half Marathon.

His perception was based on bias, and the man in particular is one of the kindest people I know so I really don’t think he meant offence, he was just being what he thought was honest and supportive of his child.

When I read this post to my partner he mentioned that this second definition was the one he most thought to when considering Fitness, whereas to me it was the least. Perhaps it’s because I accept that there are things that not everyone is capable of but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ‘Fit’ in the overall sense. Where he views it as a task specific definition. Do you view Fitness as task specific or general, broad term? Or maybe both, because as I said not everyone can do anything. That doesn’t make them less valuable just not the ‘Fit’ for a certain thing. Does viewing it as a task only definition lead to more bias and prejudice? Thoughts?

So let’s look at the last part, the Biology, ‘an organisms ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment’.

Survive, not thrive being the goal but also reproduce, does this mean anyone that has trouble reproducing may not be considered Fit from a biological stand point? Given that 1 in every 8 couples struggle with conception, I am really hoping not. There are many individuals that may not be able to conceive themselves yet are amazingly Fit and vice versa lots of people conceive that many would not consider Fit.

What about Mental Fitness? What would one consider Mentally fit? Does one need to experience trauma to prove their ability to be mentally fit? Does trauma help build our mental fitness or hurt it?

Are you familiar with the saying ‘God only gives you that which you can handle.’? But why? And why are some more capable than others? Is this something you consider when thinking of Fitness.

Again the importance is to recognize each individuals definition of the concept of Fitness differs. That these definitions should be challenged and are not one size fits all. I would hazard a guess that those who devote a lot of their time and energy to physical activity are doing so to more than merely survive. They do so to thrive and feel as though they are making the most of their physical bodies. Are they taking the same level of care of the Mental Fitness?

I said it at the start and I will say again that even defining these was going to be hard. If you think you have some concrete ideas please share, share even half baked ones.

Next week will probably be an extra long one, or I might even break it into two. What I hope to do is connect the dots, to show how these are made to inter connect within our social structure (I mean just look at the WHO’s definition or Health).

I will also hopefully help with the connection, understanding of how we prioritize these in our lives (so ya, definitely at least two posts). I aim to provide ways to draw inward to reflect and be honest, learning to align your values with how you live in the world. Whoa! That’s some big stuff so you know don’t get your hope too high, it will promise to be ranty as ever and possibly even more so than usual.

Until then… send me a note let me know what you think? Questions, etc.

Let’s Talk about Boobs: One Year Post Breast Reduction Surgery


Yes, that’s right, let’s talk about Boobs. Today is the One Year anniversary of my Breast Reduction. I think it’s funny that it is also the day I decided, unmindfully maybe subconsciously, to start a Movement Challenge, promoting making time for yourself – building mental resilience through physical resilience; it was just meant to be.

Over the next few weeks I want to go back to evaluating and flushing out Values and look deeper into the following 3 values; Beauty, Fitness and Health. These three values often overlap, intertwine and coexist in our lives. How we prioritize each of them can make huge impacts.

I’ll start sharing my relationship with my breasts and how I came to a decision to have them reduced. I went through puberty young, exceptionally young. I got my period in Grade 3, at age 8, one month after my sister, a year older got hers – so you know I have always been ahead of the game; it was then that I started developing breasts. I remember being in my Elementary school library and having classmates comment on the fact that I already had boobs. I think it was Grade 4 when we did a night away at a local sleep away camp, we had parents and some teenage siblings as chaperones, I remember one adult that had not known me commented to my mother that by looks they thought I was one of the volunteers, not a student. This is what having Breasts at a young age did, it made others perceive me as older, and because of this I was often treated more like an adult, than the child I was.

By the time I was in Junior High, my breasts were easily what I suspect now was a size E/F cup but having no knowledge those sizes even existed I settled for DD. Other girls were just getting into bras and navigating puberty, where I was 4 years in. The thing about Junior High is, in hindsight it’s awkward for everyone. For me it was the 90’s and grunge, baggy clothing was all the rage, which any large chested person can attest too, does nothing for your shape. I vividly remember walking into Drama class to two boys (yes, I remember their names, Jon and Spencer) singing to the tune of ‘That Girl’ by Shaggy and Maxi Priest, ‘Fat Girl’ in regards to me.

The boys actions stung but what was worse was the reaction and advice I was giving when recounting the story to a friend. Instead of saying what assholes the guys were, which they were, for commenting on my body and basically bullying me in front of our entire class, she suggested I look at getting a breast reduction. She said that she heard it would make me look much thinner. I know her intention was good but let me tell you the result was really hurtful. To add insult to injury, when I went to my mom, she said if I was really interested in it, she would look at the cost and be open to covering it for me. At 14 years old, I was being told that my body was wrong and needed to be fixed.

To me this story is a great example of how we raise girls to believe that others have a right to comment on their bodies. That for some reason another person’s opinion of your body, of how you look, is more important than your own. The result is that girls and women strive to fit into an ideal, not too big, but also not too small, just right, but what is just right? With Boobs, is there an ideal?

OK, so moving on to High School, when I lost my virginity; American Pie came out in the summer between grade 10 and 11, the summer of 1999. I made a pledge to myself that I wanted to lose my virginity before the new year, kinda in a celebration of the new millennial but also to claim my body. I think of it now and how crazy young I was, 16 is not old enough to be sexually active. I was very lucky, I had a good friend from my swimming days with whom I was really close and attracted to. We would hang out and even though he would never date date me, was willing to participate and help me achieve this particular goal. Now I am not advocating for any one way to enter the sexual experience but mine was pretty great. He was really respectful (for the most part, until after almost 6 months he leaked our activities), he always asked if I was ok, and I’ll never forget his face any time I took my top off, he looked like a kid in a candy store; this was when I started to love my boobs.

I’m sometimes sad when I think of it in a critical way, that my love of an amazing part of my body, came from someone else’s enjoyment of it, not my own admiration.

The famous Teri Hatcher episode of Seinfeld gave me my favourite quote for the better part of my teens and early 20’s, the ‘They’re real and they are spectacular!”. My breasts were perfect, naturally round, like grapefruits plunked on my chest with skin on top. I don’t know if anyone else would remember the store, San Francisco, my nanny growing up lived next to a mall that had one and we used to go there. It was kinda a gag store, small silly gifts, and pop culture shirts; I remember this one shirt they had that showed all the different shapes that breasts came in, from Pancakes to Oranges to Ski Slopes, I remember being jazzed that I got the Grapefruits. So you see even at a young age, the understanding that boobs played a part in my (a women’s) worth was there. That it was acceptable for society to not just talk about them but judge them, make fun of them. I want to recognize that it’s not any easier being on the other end, possibly having boobs that are a size or shape that you feel is too small. What I am saying is that the societal pressures make all breast stories hard.

After learning to love my breasts for their shape and natural glory, I would still have to put up with others’ opinions on them. I often struggled to fit into dress codes, because button down shirts either popped across the chest or made me look frumpy, as then the waist wasn’t tailored. I would have constant comments from people that felt entitled to comment on how ‘booby’ an outfit was. In one instance, I was taking a course to become a First Aid Instructor, it was 6 months after having my second child, the Trainer felt it appropriate in my final review and in front of the class to tell me to cover up my chest when teaching. She said I wouldn’t be able to wear any v-neck/open tops because it would be too distracting to students. Even as recent as Fall of 2019, in a professional work environment, I was wearing one of my all time favourite dresses I own, a signature DVF wrap dress, and a mid fifties coworker, female, felt it appropriate to say to me that ‘I was really just putting it all out there’.

I have grown a thicker skin for sure, I now say, ‘They are there, so deal with it’. I recently did a headshot shoot for my work, and I had to pick outfits and even in doing my best, still received feedback that they might show too much cleavage. I find it crazy that this is even a thing – how is it that my body, in it’s natural state can be seen as unprofessional? That you as the viewer not being able to focus on the face would not be what was considered unprofessional. It’s a very self centred view to say to someone that their body makes you uncomfortable, as if their body has anything to do with you. If I am not rubbing my chest on you or anything of yours, you are not really entitled to an opinion and you should actively work against your desire to comment on them. My breasts, my body, do not belong to anyone but me.

Most recent Headshots taken – some still showing ‘Too Much Cleavage’, taken by Phil Crozier,

My relationship with my Breasts changed after having kids. I was always open to the idea of having surgery when I was younger, not from outside pressure, but because I knew after kids I would want a lift. I didn’t realize how much my chest would balloon with kids, I went from a 30/32 E to a 32 J cup. Just one of my Breasts was the size of a full honeydew melon or small soccer ball; it would take literally 5 of my closed hands to cover just one. I know that’s a lot of describing but it’s important to paint picture. I went from loving my Boobs to hating them.

My Boobs were heavy, they were no longer mine, they were there to feed my kids. I had a strict rule of only breast feeding for 1 year. My kids all had teeth at 4 months old, like a minimum of 4 teeth that early. My breasts were hot to touch, sometimes hard, and I would need to sit in the shower for upwards of 30 min to just let the milk expel at night before bed just to be somewhat comfortable. I know these are good issues when you compare to those that maybe their milk doesn’t come in, but they were uncomfortable none the less, and when a friend says you look like you could be a fetish porn star, it doesn’t feel good.

It was after having my 3rd baby that I decided to go for a consult for a reduction. At the time I wasn’t even sure if I wanted one but I knew there was a long waiting list for it to be covered by my provincial Health care and I had thought maybe I would also inquire about a tummy tuck, because you know body and self confidence issues. I met with my surgeon, who is amazing, he was open and honest. The province I am in had just put in new restrictions (now they don’t even cover them anymore), that a minimum of 300 cc/units per breast had to be taken out. To give you an idea, if you were a size 32, it would be anywhere from 2-3 cups sizes. I was fine with that but took pause when the surgeon said he might not be able to preserve the shape, as it would be a lot of tissue taken off. This made me pause because I always loved my shape, I loved having the ‘implant’ looking shape, my Grapefruits. It took over 18 months to get off the waiting list and at that point I no longer had any hesitation. My neck and back, having started a more sedentary job, were in even more severe pain from the weight. I was at the point where I would have been ok coming out with an A cup.

A year after my surgery I am really happy with my decision; I would recommend it to anyone thinking of it. The healing process was long though, it was a good 8 weeks before I was comfortable working out and more than 6 months for all the swelling to go down. I would find a way to pay for it. The weight, literal weight that came off my shoulders was immediate. I am still wearing a 32 E cup (shows just how big they were), and my surgeon despite his reservations was successful in keeping my natural shape. I quite literally have my early twenties boobs back; what it also gave me was perspective, it made me really think about how much of my identity had been wrapped up in having large Breasts; it made me stop and think why that was.

To bring it back to Values and set us up for next week – my journey with my Breasts led me from valuing the Beauty of the them to the Health of them. The Beauty being, how they look, how others viewed them and the Health being how the feel, am I healthy and can I live a fuller life.

I want to explore all the ways we use these three values (Health, Fitness and Beauty) as synonyms, when really they are individual values and as humans we need to prioritize them; we only have some much capacity. Hopefully you got something from my overshare and will come back to the discussion next week.

Leave a comment and let me know what you thought. If you have any questions about my experience please feel free to send me a direct message via my Contact page.

Shameless plug – head over to the Body section of my page to check out the 50 Days of Movement Challenge that started today.