By Anika Kumar
Often as students attending high school, we hear about the importance of a “healthy lifestyle.” However, it is sometimes a challenge for people to take what we hear and implement these strategies into our daily lives. With hectic schedules and limited options, it is seemingly impossible to eat a perfect diet, exercise for hours everyday, and maintain a state of good health. To look further into how wellness can be incorporated into BHHS’ faculty and students daily lives, I consulted with Ms. Healy, who is not only a gym teacher here at Byram Hills, but also a holistic life coach and teacher of the Wellness for Life class that focuses on the best way to maintain a healthy life.
Ms. Healy gave a variety of tips on how to stay healthy and maintain a balanced mindset, but her most important tip was to go back to the “why” behind your goals. She explained that having goals such as looking your best for prom or any event may not be the best, because what happens when that event is over? In other words, short term goals aren’t sustainable. She says that a better way to approach healthy changes would be to analyze your own lifestyle and ask the following questions: why do I want to live a healthy lifestyle? Why would making adjustments be beneficial in the long run? She states, “when you can bridge the gap between intentions and results, you will see progress.”
Additionally, Ms. Healy pointed out a major trap she sees when many students try to get “quick results.” She advises students not to fall victim to fad diets or be inspired by social media models in order to get healthy tips from because, “one person’s food is another person’s poison.” According to LiveStrong, up to 90% of teenagers diet regularly, with fad diets making up a significant percentage. Ms. Healy explains that fad diets are the worst thing to follow if you want to be healthy, as the majority of the time, they are too restrictive and cause people to ultimately “fail.” Instead, focus on eating the way that works for you. It is better to be consistent, because in the long run, a lifestyle change cannot occur overnight.
Lastly, Ms. Healy mentioned four areas of life that are crucial to reflect on before you make any lifestyle goals: relationships, physical activity, spirituality, career/schooling. It is essential to look at yourself in regards to each of the four areas of life and ensure that you are satisfied with them. If one component is out of balance, achieving your goal will be very difficult. I learned a lot from Ms. Healy as it relates to different tips students could use to motivate themselves in order to actually complete their goals, and I wanted to hear from students on how they stay healthy, especially with hectic schedules and stress management.
First, I asked Alexa Tusiani (‘21) about what motivates her to stay healthy: “I think my mental health and dance motivate me the most. Dance is what I use to de-stress so when I am not feeling my best physically, I believe it really affects how I dance and my mental state. Being healthy is not all about how good you look for social media or to compete against ur friends, it should be for you, and to help you become the best version of yourself. I maintain a healthy lifestyle by listening to my body, eating healthy foods that I love, and by doing exercises that I love!” Doing things you love is an easy way to stay fit, because it is not a burden to do them. Whether that may be running, walking your dog, or playing any sport, it is crucial that the exercises you choose to do are one’s you enjoy, or it will be extremely difficult to continue to do them consistently.
Moreover, Marleigh Canter (‘21) and Mia Dittrich (‘21) show that you don’t need to be on a sports team to be active. They go to crossfit together, and what motivates them to go is that they feel “empowered and strong whenever I go, and it allows us to take out our frustrations and de-stress in a healthy way.” Additionally, since workouts are not mandatory like they would be on a sports team, I inquired about the motivating factors behind their commitment to crossfit. “We are motivated by numerous things: the goals we have to lift heavier weights, get through workouts in less time, and achieve certain workout movements like a muscle up, and motivation from each other to power through the hard workouts.” Working out with a friend or in a group setting is a great way to get active in a more enjoyable way as it is a bonding experience as well. Having clear-cut goals, rather than just saying you want to get healthier is imperative as well. Focus on smaller things such as adding five more pounds each week on your squat, or doing fifteen pushups every day.
A majority of students said their driving force behind why they want to stay healthy was in order for better athletic performance in their sports. Zachary Binder (‘21), Olivia Picca (‘21), Olivia Canter (‘21), and Elizabeth Manowitz (‘21), all talked about the importance of staying healthy, even during your off seasons, in order to prepare you for the endurance and strength needed to handle long sports games and grueling practices.
While everybody’s goal may be different, we see now more than ever, the true value of leading a healthy lifestyle. When one’s body is fueled properly and efficiently, its ability to fight against diseases and protect yourself is greatly improved. Since a healthy lifestyle requires the ability to adopt a variety of new habits, and a habit takes about eighteen days to form, how about we use this time off from school to set some new healthy habits for ourselves? In the long run, we will be thanking ourselves.