Over the weekend, I had my second appearance in a publication since I started this blog. I was very grateful for this opportunity, and at the same time, photoshoots like these make me really nervous. I always have a strong idea on how I want my photos to turn out, and this time, the selection of photos were pretty much out of my control since it is up to the photographer. Even for my Her World shoot, I was really nervous about the outcome of the article as well.

But opportunities like these make me learn a lot more than I expect myself to. One would think that it is as simple as getting nice photos taken, and then expecting yourself to get published as it is. But most of the time, there are many things that are beyond your control. When I was interviewed, I am always very careful about making myself as clear as possible, because I wouldn’t want to be misinterpreted by the writer and give the wrong impression.

So on Sunday, the article is out, and it took quite some time for me to decide whether I liked the feature or not. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for such an opportunity, but I am more worried about the kind of message I was sending out to people who might be reading this weekly feature.

Here’s the article!

My article on The Straits Times, 25 May 2014

To me, it felt that the article painted an overly simplistic picture of what fitness is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s the writer’s fault there because of the space and word constaints. But you see, I don’t always do yoga 5 times a week, I don’t eat healthy all the time. I eat healthily but I have my fast food fix from time to time, and I am not ashamed of that. I can look a lot more lean and defined if I clean up my diet significantly but I love my food and I decided that I am a lot happier this way.

I think most importantly, the key lesson that I’ve always known but now reminded more than ever before, is the fact that there is no formula to a healthy lifestyle. The fitness formula is a myth.

There is no fixed rule on how many times to eat, what to eat, what not to eat, what to do, and what not to do. Getting healthier is a lifestyle change and it is something that should be permanent. It should move away from shedding a certain number of pounds or to get washboard abs to something more intrinsic such as experiencing that personal sense of accomplishment when you achieve your personal best, or it can just be a sheer sense of joy or pride in yourself that you experience when you go for your first Zumba or hot yoga class.

It is about eating healthy, but it is also not about cutting out certain foods altogether. It is about having a healthy relationship with food, and by that it means not being afraid of certain types of food, being able to eat your pizza or chocolate bar or any of your favourite food without ever feeling guilty or feeling like you need to work out to “pay it back”.

One might make the initial switch to a healthier lifestyle thinking that it is plain simple and black and white. Just eat healthy and work out consistently.

However, life is often not as simple. Sometimes life’s circumstances such as getting a new job, moving further away from the gym, personal struggles, new relationships that might disrupt your routine and throw you off altogether. And that’s when your mindset is being put to the test. Do you freak out when you skip a work out session? Do you feel guilty because you had fast food today while hanging out with your friends? Do you feel terrible about yourself because you haven’t worked out in a month due to adjusting to a new job?

If there’s any “formula” to getting healthy and fit, it’s this: Fitness is not something that is be all and end all. Sometimes life throws us off and sometimes what’s most important is how we get back on the wagon again. Sometimes a true test of whether you have a healthy relationship with yourself, with food, and with working out, is how you deal with *not* eating healthily and*not* working out as consistent as you would like. 

Life is a lot more than the number on the scale or whether you have defined abs or not. It’s about doing what you love, and loving yourself and all the quirks and vulnerabilities that come along with it.

The key question when you jump into the healthy living wagon is: What do you want out of this? Before you get carried away with new fitness standards to achieve and fitness models to look up to, stop and look within and decide for yourself what you really want.

And also, be critical of what you see on the papers or magazines. Sometimes they paint such a nice (and simple) picture that makes it look so much simpler than it really is. <3

Just a little Monday inspiration in light of the article yesterday. Feel free to share your thoughts with me below – I would love to hear them!

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