My Health Journey: Defining Health

by Meg on March 19, 2014

Today’s post is the second post of my new series called “My Health Journey”. If you missed out on the first post, you can read it here

I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2008, which is when I began my road to recovery.

Recovery is a long long long road and requires a lot of work, but I was determined to recover. I knew I was stronger than my eating disorder and worthy of a life without it. 

After two and a half years of working on my recovery, I was well enough to move away from my parents in Yorkton, SK to live and go to school in London, ON.

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Although I was definitely well enough to live on my own and technically no longer had an eating disorder, I still had a long way to go…

The biggest changes in my recovery and health happened within the past year when I got really serious about repairing my relationship with food and one of the things I attribute much of my success to was when I took the time to define what health meant to me.

Health is an incredibly powerful word, but it can mean something totally different from person to person depending on your values.

What’s important is what health means to you. 

I knew I wanted to be healthy, so I literally sat down last year and defined what health meant to me and outlined the changes I had to make in my life to be able to live this definition I had of health.

To me, health isn’t about obsessing over food. So, I knew I had to make changes in that area of my life. At the time, I was using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and macros, eating six meals a day because I thought “that was the right thing to do”, and weighing every morsel of food I put into my mouth. All of these actions didn’t fit into my definition of health, so I made changes in my life to eliminate them.

To me, health was about eating the foods that made me feel best without restriction. This meant tuning into how foods made me feel, which foods made me feel my best, and really letting go of portion sizes and tracking calories and macros.

To me, health was being spontaneous. This meant learning to live by going with the flow, which lead to many days at the beach with Eddie this past summer!

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To me, health was being active the way wanted to be active. This meant discovering new workouts and learning what I truly love and felt best doing.

To me, health was having a positive mind. So, I began to work harder than ever on developing a positive body image through positive self talk, something I’ve always been good at.

To me, health was finding my balance between food, exercise, and everything in between. This meant taking rest days when being spontaneous and going to the beach with Eddie for an example, giving others control over my eats, and so on.

After defining what health meant to me, I used the definition as a constant reminder that I was doing the right thing whenever I doubted myself along the journey of regaining my health.

If I ever felt like I should be tracking my macros, counting calories, or anything else that didn’t fit into my definition of health I reminded myself that those actions weren’t going to help me achieve health.

By taking the time to define what health meant to me and making the necessary changes to live my personal definition of health, I was able to make the big strides in my recovery, regain my health, and get to where I am today!

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Have you ever taken the time to define what health means to you? 

PS if you have a high five to share with me for this coming High Five Friday please email it to me at adashofmeg@gmail.com! :D

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Linz @ Itz Linz March 19, 2014 at 8:12 AM

to me, health is all about balance…. not just with food, but with exercise, mind, and body! :)

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM

i think everyone has their own balance to discover! definitely linz! i love it

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Hayley@healthyregardshayley March 19, 2014 at 8:16 AM

love this Meg, you are inspiring!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM

thank you so much Hayley <3

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Shannon March 19, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Defining what health means to me has also changed drastically over the last few years of my life. I truly value my overall health and taking care of my body in the best possible way. I don’t deny myself the simple pleasures in life (chocolate and carbs and desserts once in awhile) and I try not to push myself beyond my limits. That being said, I know that I have a great amount of potential when it comes to working out and eating well, so why short myself? I want to live a long happy life, with little or no sickness or injuries, so I definitely put myself and health FIRST! :)

Your post is very inspiring, and I love your new Health Journey posts! It’s always nice to read about others growing in their healthy lifestyles, just as I aim to!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:01 PM

So happy you’re enjoying, Shannon! And thank you for sharing with me, too :)

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Samantha @ The Faithful Runner March 19, 2014 at 8:31 AM

Wow! I’m so proud of you. That is something that must take a lot of willpower to overcome, and I love the way you went about it. I’ve never thought of defining what healthy is to me. I’ve known a general idea of what I want, but I think writing it down and defining it is an awesome idea. Thanks so much for sharing. You’re an inspiration.

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Thank you so much Samantha <3 let me know how it goes xoxo

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cait @pieceofcait March 19, 2014 at 8:55 AM

health to me = a happy balance. I love sweets to much not to have them! balance is key in my life!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:03 PM

I think every one has their own balance in life and once they know what it is and are ok with it, they have found their health :D

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Sara @ LovingOnTheRun March 19, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Health is finding what works for you. It’s not limiting yourself to some crazy extreme or being scared of certain foods – it is moderation and balance in life. I still struggle with it sometimes but I’ve been getting SO much better!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:03 PM

And we all have our own unique balance! Finding it is key :)

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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More March 19, 2014 at 9:13 AM

LOVE this and SO proud of you and how far you’ve come!! :)

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM

thank you so much, my love :)

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Amanda March 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Meg, your story is so inspiring and powerful so far and I can’t wait to read the rest of it. I am struggling with my own health right now and it really helps to hear someone else’s health journey, your obstacles and how you overcame it all. Knowing your not alone and that somebody else overcame their health challenges helps to keep me staying positive! I completely agree with your definitions of health! What a great way to look at life! Thanks for being such an inspiring person! xo

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM

You’re definitely not alone, Amanda! <3 Always here for you

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Brooke March 19, 2014 at 9:43 AM

What a great idea! One of the biggest impacts on my recovery (I entered ED treatment in 11/2003) came just in the past year as well. I think this was when I finally realized that I was listening to the wrong voices (like the media) in defining what was healthy for ME. And that “healthy” isn’t the same for everyone, and is really personal to each of us and our own bodies. So freeing!

I have loved watching your progression and so excited and happy for you :) (and p.s., thanks for the IG love too!) xoxo

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:05 PM

BROOKE! I cannot agree more! I ALWAYS SAY – everyone has their own UNIQUE balance. It is NOT the same for everyone, so we just cannot judge!

I AM SO HAPPY TO BE FOLLOWING YOU ON IG!!! Now sure why I wasn’t before!? :(

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Tatum @ eatsfromtheoilpatch March 19, 2014 at 9:58 AM

So proud of you Meg, another great post. xox

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:06 PM

thanks friend ;) we will hug in real life soon … i hope

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Jenn@Mark My Miles! March 19, 2014 at 10:14 AM

What a great post and I’m loving this new series : )

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:06 PM

good! more to come :)

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Allison March 19, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Your definition of health is GREAT!! I look at my relationship with food very similarly. I also define health as my ability to perform my job, social and leisure activities without injury, difficulty or unrealistic pressure. I have had a unhealthy relationship with the food and life balance before so I now try to just think about staying balanced in my life and know that with balance the proper health will come.

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM

balance is everything!

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Keri March 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM

You are so incredibly powerful and inspiring. You have overcome this, and now you know that there is nothing in the world that can hold you back from living your most joyful life. You are powerful beyond measure! I am so fortunate to know you and love you!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM

thanks sis :) i love you too!

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Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite March 19, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Loving this series! You are such an inspiration to so many others out there struggling- keep it up girl.

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM

thanks girl <3

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Keely March 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Hi Meg,

I feel as though you write one way in your post, but live totally opposite of that. You say health to you isn’t about obsessing over food, eating foods that make you feel best without restrictions and being spontanteous. That is not your life at all. In every other blog post we see you eating the same things every. single. day! And taking avocado with you on an airplane? How is that being spontaneous? You say you don’t obsess over food nor restrict. You were just on a Whole 30, where you only allowed yourself to eat a handful of certain foods. How is that not restricting or obsessing?

To me all those things I listed above: being spontaneous, not obsessing or restricing is walking into an airport knowing you will need to eat something & ordering something from one of the shops on site and being ok with that.

I have no problem with what you eat, but I do have a problem with you being dishonest with your readers and yourself.

I would hope that you do respond to my comment in case I am missing something. Thanks.

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Meg March 19, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Hi Keely,

To hear you say “that is not my life at all” is really sad since you don’t know me. It actually is me life and the people in my life could back me up. My parents, fiancé, and all of my close friends who actually know me know that I actually do live by my own personal definition of health.

The way I live might not be your version of health because I believe we all have different definitions of health. However, I am happy and healthy and confident that I am living how I want to live – healthy.

And about the avocado on my plane flight… I sat on the plane for 4 hours without any food being served. I was being HEALTHY by bringing my own snack so I wouldn’t go hungry.

I hope that clarifies things for you :)

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Heather @ The Soulful Spoon March 19, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Fantastic post girl!:) I couldn’t agree more! Health is a journey, not an equation of calories in and calories out. Love your take on this!:)

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:08 PM

thank you :)

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Emily March 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Balance is the name of the game for me. It’s all about living in the moment and enjoying whatever life throws at you.
I’m so, so proud of you. Your happiness radiates through every picture that you post nowadays and I absolutely love it! xoxo

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:08 PM

thank you so much, Emily :) xoxo

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Livi March 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM

I love this idea, especially to have as a reminder when times are tough and bad thoughts are coming in. Such a great series Meg, thanks for sharing!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:09 PM

I am so happy you’re liking the series :) xoxo

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Beth March 19, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Did you have a treatment team of any kind? A dietician, counselor, psychiatrist, etc? Did you do it all out patient or did you go into an ED program? Thanks for the post!!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Hey Beth! :)

I saw doctors, RDs, psychiatrists, social workers, and psychologists. I will mention a bit of that in future posts, but these posts are basically what worked for me over the last year or so because that’s when i REALLY found my health.

I hope that answers your question! :)

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Jody - Fit at 56 March 19, 2014 at 3:43 PM

I love reading your recovery stories! So helpful for many people out there that don’t want to come out with their own issues! So happy for you that you found your way!!!!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:11 PM

thank you so much, Jody :)

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Becky@TheSavedRunner March 19, 2014 at 4:03 PM

I love all of your definitions! To me health is about happiness. Being happy about all areas of your life and not stressing over things you can’t control.

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:11 PM

love it! happiness is necessary <3

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Natalie @ lovenataliemarie March 19, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I love this. I have learned the same lessons as you. You’re doing fantastic girl! :D

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:11 PM

thank you so much!! xo

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Kim @FITsique March 19, 2014 at 9:26 PM

I love this post! Health should paint a similar but very different picture to everyone. My current idea of health is finding balance. Not necessarily eating the most nutritious foods for me all of the time, but keeping my mind sound and enjoying a splurge every now and then!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:13 PM

and everyone’s balance is different :D sounds like you know yours <3

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lindsay March 19, 2014 at 10:58 PM

what a great way to look at your past.. your journey to health is exactly laid out as God planned. He gave you strength to overcome so that you could encourage others to do the same. <3 you

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:13 PM

thanks, girl <3 i love you so much and thank you for always being there for me, too

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Patricia March 20, 2014 at 3:28 AM

Hi Meg,
How did you learn to recognize the influence of your former ED when it came to determining what foods you were “in tune” with? For example, you’ve said you don’t eat grains or sugar because they don’t make you feel good — how can you be sure that isn’t your ED talking, especially as a doctor has not diagnosed you with any kind of legitimate allergy, and we know that avoiding certain foods for a long period of time can make your body less receptive to them, at first?

Would love to hear your thoughts and to see the comment section become a place of civil, thoughtful discussion.

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Jen Crandall March 20, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I agree with Patricia. I would love you to address the “safe food” issue. Your instragram is filled with the same meals over and over again. It screams out restriction and orthoexia. It was your fiance’s birthday wasn’t it? If we saw you enjoying even a small piece of cake, we would not be having this discussion.

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Hi Jen :)

Currently, I’m living on my own, which is one of the reasons why I have many of the same foods over and over. Another reason – they are my favourite foods :) I don’t restrict myself and I am most definitely not dealing with orthorexia.

And for my fiancé’s birthday, we didn’t even have cake. It’s just not something we enjoy. Each to their own :)

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Lana March 20, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I wonder this too! One of the hardest parts about trying to recover is wondering how much of my brain I can trust. I don’t know if it just takes time or what, but I would love a discussion or post on this as well. You seem so sure and confident all of the time!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Hi Lana!

As I mentioned above, I’ve always been able to determine the ED “voice” from my own. In the past, when I had an ED, I obviously followed through with the ED voice, but now that I no longer have an ED, I have my voice and can trust that my voice is the right one to follow. I guess it does come with time.

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Kaila @healthyhelperblog! March 20, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Curious about this as well!

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Hi Patricia :)

I’m not sure if you’ve had an ED in the past or not, but I’ve always been able to determine the ED “voice” from my own. HOWEVER, it is obvious that when I was consumed in my ED, I would listen to the ED “voice” instead of my own. Now; however, things are different as I no longer have an ED, and only listen to my voice.

I’ve said that grains don’t work for me because I get constipated and have issues digesting them, so that is why I don’t consume them on a regular basis.

I guess since I know I am healthy and the health professionals working along with me agree, I am ok with the way I am eating because it works for me :)

Everything works differently from person to person and I hope you can respect that :)

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Missy March 20, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I read this today and thought you might like it — speaking of defining what healthy is…

http://snacktherapy.com/2014/03/20/healthy-means/

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:24 PM

Thank you Missy :) I loved this <3!!!!

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Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries March 21, 2014 at 1:50 PM

I’m proud of you Meg! And I appreciate you opening up with your story because I know that it’s touching and helping SO many others! Continue to be honest and love yourself. xoxo

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Meg March 22, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Thank you SO MUCH ASHLEY <3 Again I am all smiley and giddy hearing from you :) <3

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april March 23, 2014 at 4:51 PM

i LOVE this! i feel like a broken record saying this, but your story is so inspiring and i’m really loving this series. unfortunately, i can relate to some of your ED struggles, but this gives me a ton of hope that just like you, i WILL kick this thing in the butt! <3

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Meg March 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM

you WILL April :D I KNOW IT <3

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