Health, Beauty & Fitness – Mixed Up Synonyms


I have been trying to figure out where to start and how to write all the thoughts. Being almost halfway through the 50 Days of Movement Challenge (check out the Body section of this page), I wanted to spend some time exploring the three values of Health, Beauty and Fitness. I want to first introduce how we tend to use the three values as synonyms and why this needs to be corrected within all of our thinking.

I would like to share a slightly rambling connection of thoughts and stories in hopes that it will prompt you to reflect on how you view these three values and how they have appeared in your life.

Having been raised in the Western world, although I am pretty sure this is not unique to just here, there has been a large emphasis on Beauty. This unknown, ever changing value that we all strive to reach for. Beauty appears in many aspects of our lives from Art, to Fashion, to Humans.

Having been raised by Active parents, ones that brought us to the Gym with them on the weekend to watch their tennis matches, play in the pool or just watch them work out on the rowing machine or in the gym; Fitness was a necessary outlet. We started swimming ‘competitively’ before grade school and had to do some sort of activity or sport until at least high school.

Having parents that both worked in Health (a doctor and a nurse), we learned about all things Health related from a young age. We had human body diagrams and books in our office, the ‘Big’ talks, the what happens at the Hospital info with no filter were dinner and driving conversation. Yet, my parents didn’t quit smoking until age 40 and 60 respectively (20 yrs age gap), the year was 1990.

These three values have always seemed individual and inter connected at the same time. Having been raised by parents that had differing views on the three, valuing them differently, having expectations placed on each other differently, it was confusing on what was what.

My mother was born in 1950, she was raised to believe that a woman’s value was directly correlated with her appearance. That strong legs, if on the larger side were unattractive. She works out incessantly, I believe partly because she needs it for her mental sanity; she is high energy like myself but also due to outside influence on the ‘Beauty’ aspect. It’s weird though because although she would criticize her body, my sister’s and mine – she would give us dessert with every lunch and dinner. She still has a hard time not eating something sweet, even if just a bite after dinner. Another thing I remember her telling me at a really young age, before age 7 for sure, as she used to have a real love of purple eye shadow that ended in the 90’s, but I digress, she would tell me to never start wearing make up, because once you start you can never stop.

My father was born in 1930, he was a traditionalist. He, like my mother, worked out and did sports his entire life. He would boast about his all around athletic skills, he played every sport, apparently even Synchronized Swimming as Fred and his Aquabelles. He would encourage me to stand up for myself but never complimented me. He hid or more so kept a copy of the Vanessa Williams Playboy Magazine in his bedside table. He was domineering and expected to be appeased to until much later in life. He was an excellent physician but a raging, functional alcoholic.

None of my grandparents made it much past age 80 if at all, and lived common lives for their time; my Father celebrated his 90th Birthday this past December. My Dad, as in my Dad, not his parents, and my Mom’s parents were only a few years apart but I remember as a kid joking about losing my Grandpa at the mall because he would wander away. My grandmother always seemed fragile, like she was wasting away – the complete opposite of my Dad, even though they were less than 5 years apart.

Does anyone else remember the 50-60 years old of the 80’s and 90’s, how different they are from today? I used to joke my Dad was the bionic man, he has had reconstructive surgery on his back at least twice, his shoulder done, his cataracts, he had a triple bi-pass, valve replacement and they found a hole in his heart when in there – not to mention he broke his hip twice in the last decade. Despite years of alcohol abuse never any issues with his liver, and not stopping smoking until 60, no lung issues either. My mother has had her knees scoped, now replaced, her shoulder replaced this year – the other one to be done soon, as well as her hip. She has no plans of slowing down anytime. All that Fitness was good for the heart but maybe not so great on the joints.

My Dad’s first wife passed away from Breast cancer at 27, my ex-husband’s mom passed away near age 50 of the same and my mother had her bout with it, 8 years ago and survived.

Last year someone close to me passed away in their 40’s from cirrhosis of the Liver. My father and brothers both abused alcohol for much longer periods and have never been down the road of needing a new liver. I remember sitting at an intake meeting for a Nursing home with my Father where he described drinking a full bottle of booze every night, 750 ml of hard alcohol and never once has he had issues with his liver. Yet a beautiful mom, someone that worked out, ate well, tried to maintain her fitness, health and beauty, died.

Genetics would be the difference for the Health Conditions. Genetics and Lifestyle for my parents to their parents. Genetics play a huge part in our Health, Fitness and Beauty stories.

I had a friend that used to train for triathlons, this was when I was in my early twenties, before kids, before learning to accept my body and that of others without judgement. Anywho, my friend was incredibly Fit, she ate extremely Healthy and she could finish an Ironman, which is truly inspiring, but on appearance you wouldn’t know what her body could do. She wasn’t small or toned, she was beautiful none the less for her strength and her being.

I have met others that on appearance alone would be considered ‘beautiful’. Their clothes and hair are almost always perfectly placed; they are professional looking, traditionally attractive, fit, but when they open their mouths, the hurt and hate that lives in their hearts and minds comes out, for me the ‘Beauty’ fades. The insecurity that causes the hurt and hate, is this healthy? Is that Beautiful?

I know more people than I would like to admit, that work out every day, or close to, but will drink alcohol or use drugs like cocaine on what I would consider a regular enough basis. Think of all the athletes that have been found to be doping? Does this match the ‘Health’ and ‘Fitness’ values they put forth?

In my early twenties I had a friend that decided to try the ‘Wild Rose Cleanse’. She was the first person I knew to ever do a ‘cleanse’, I had never even heard of it before. My mom worked in the GI unit as a nurse for the better part of her career, so colon health was a topic I was very familiar with, but not cleanses; my mom is totally against them. Anywho this friend of mine was someone doing the cleanse for genuine health interest, she was very slight build and overall healthy person. I can’t remember how far into the Wild Rose she got, when one night while she was sleeping, and her heart stopped. I remember her retelling the story, something about her water intake (too much), her electrolytes (imbalanced from the water consumption), her mother finding her unresponsive and apparently having to be revived twice. Now this was 19 years ago so the details could definitely be foggy but that’s what I remember about the Wild Rose Cleanse.

You would think that I would be completely against Cleanses, and by jolly I was, for a while, but in effort to lose weight, ‘feel better’ I have tried my fair share. From the Master cleanse, to Metagenics to Isagenix – it’s been a whirlwind. All in the name of Beauty and Fitness, I won’t kid myself with the ‘Health’ part anymore. Have you ever done a cleanse or known someone that did?

I’m hoping the flow of these is connecting together a bit – my overall goal with this post is to get you thinking about how these 3 values appear in your life and of the lives of those around you. Where would you place them in your value rankings? How would rank them in comparison with each other?

Next week (I’m hoping to get the next post out within the week, this one took me 3 to get totally wrapped around, so fingers crossed) but next week, I am going to dive deeper into each individual value. How they are represented in the media, what critical thinking questions we need to ask ourselves about them, what defines them. And then finally a post to look at comparison, hopefully point out how decisions can or are made based on the values and how we can acknowledge our own bias around these.

Hopefully you will enjoy the next few weeks – I really wanted to tie in the values to the Challenge going on right now. If you take a peek at the Body section, you will see I am Hosting a 50 Days of Movement challenge, the aim to link Physical Movement and Resilience with Mental Resilience. I believe recognizing these values is part of the Mental Resilience piece.

Share your thoughts with me on these values, any topics around them that you would like me to explore. Thank you for reading and I wish you a good few days – MH