I’m wrapping up this series with an extra special guest because today, the story you’ll hear is from my best friend. The maid of honor at my wedding. My college roommate who has stuck with me through thick and thin. She also happens the talented photographer behind nearly every photo you’ve seen of me. So without further ado, meet Alexa!
Hi! I’m Alexa, a Navy wife, a professional photographer in Chesapeake, Virginia, a Social Media Consultant and Small Business Enthusiast.
How would you define “healthy” and/or how has the definition changed for you over the years?
In my teenage years, healthy meant skinny… it meant being able to share clothing with my sister who was naturally much smaller than me, and it often meant letting myself feel extremely hungry before giving in to eat something. As I’ve gotten older, my view has DRASTICALLY changed (and so has my waistline). Now, healthy means feeling GOOD. Healthy means eating well, but enjoying a little treat now and then too. It means maybe having a little ice cream, but walking to go get it. Healthy means being physically strong and mentally stable and happy about HOW I choose to be healthy. It not just about weight anymore, it’s also about what I let come in to contact with my body, my mind, and my home. It’s not enough just to eat my veggies and see a small number on the scale. I also try to avoid harsh chemicals and know what’s in my food, cleansers, makeup etc…
What are some of the challenges/struggles you’ve had to overcome?
As I mentioned above, I have always struggled with just… being bigger. I’m just shy of 5’8″ – which is not insanely tall, but in high school when ALL of your friends are under 5’3″ and weigh under 110 lbs, it’s not easy to have a solid 5 inches and 20+ lbs on all of them. I am not athletic, I never really have been. My legs are not lean, they are muscular, and my chest and shoulders are broad. I carry two small watermelons with me in my bra, at all times. I could (and still can) stand in front of a mirror butt naked and compare (I know I know, we aren’t supposed to do this, but we ALL DO IT)
What’s something you wish you could tell your younger self?
I wish I could tell high school me that I was DESTROYING my metabolism by eating so little, that what I was doing would only make things harder as I’ve gotten older. I wish I could tell her that a healthy body doesn’t have to mean a size 1. That a healthy routine in the gym and all the required nutrients were good enough.
How do you think blogging & social media have changed the way you think about health? How do you think it’s influenced others?
Sometimes I feel like social media makes things worse. Like damn, that girl looks incredible in HER swimsuit, or when I see images of models scarfing down burgers and fries AND MILKSHAKES, but I eat a salad and gain 4 lbs because I went with ranch dressing… Other times, I see women of all shape and sizes ENCOURAGING other women to find THEIR healthy. And that’s a motivation that’s hard to beat. I’m the average American size 8. I’ve been bigger than that, and I’ve been smaller than that. I could be healthier now, but I’ve also been a lot worse, and it’s a daily check in with small steps, not a set it and forget it sort of thing.
Are there any resources, blogs, books, or podcast recommendations you’d give to other people learning how to eat intuitively, love their body, and/or focus on their health?
You mean besides “I Heart Vegetables”? 😉 I have found a lot of success with meal prep and following plans like Whole30 or just trying to stick with more plant-based meals in general. I’m not a vegetarian, but I try to keep meat (and dairy) to a minimum – although I do feel like I need the protein, I just feel better when I keep things SIMPLE.
I’ve had so much fun putting together this series and talking with other bloggers about their journey and listening to how they found their own definition of healthy. For some of us, it can feel like a confusing road. There’s no shortage of opinions of what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do. I’m thankful that there’s a shift in the conversation and we’re recognizing that this it’s complicated. It’s not one size fits all. And it’s a good reminder that we’re all on a journey and so give yourself a little grace.