Health is not just a one-size-fits-all thing, and there it is certainly not black and white answer for what “perfect” health looks like. There are different aspects of health, including physical, mental, and emotional health. If even just one of those is out of balance, achieving true health and happiness is nearly impossible.
That’s what Jolene Nicole Jones discovered when she let go of what she thought health was supposed to look like and instead switched her focus to what makes her happy, and her transformation is incredible.
Jolene’s Body Transformation: “Body Builder to Body Lover”
Jolene, a former body builder from Montana, posted the above photo to her Instagram account. She was thin, lean, and well-muscled, and “healthy” in appearance and physical capabilities. The problem? She was extremely unhappy and never satisfied with herself or her body.
“A six pack didn’t make me happy. I was never enough and always needing to improve.” Jolene recalls.
Her life was ruled by a grueling gym schedule and extremely restrictive eating habits. Everything was calculated, measured, and weighed. This tight regimen left her unable to grab a drink with friends or go out for dinner with her family. Sure, she looked incredible, but all at the cost of a thriving social life, and her happiness.
On her Instagram, Jolene writes:
“Today I went rafting with friends and enjoyed food the old me would have drooled over and wouldn’t have dared to touch. Your body is quite LITERALLY the only thing that gets you through this life, your worth and joy isn’t weighed by what you can lift or what the scale says.”
Health is More than Just Physical
While physical health and maintaining a certain level of fitness is important for the functioning and longevity of our bodies, if it is achieved at the expense of our mental and emotional well-being, it becomes a detriment to our health.
Jolene was sacrificing her happiness in the pursuit of a ‘perfect’ body. Now, she understands that no body fat percentage, number on a scale, or sculpted six-pack will make you happy and wants to share that with the world. She is far happier with her body and her life now than she was back then, and she encourages other women (and men!) to realize that losing weight or gaining muscle, while it may make them feel better temporarily, it won’t bring about true happiness.
“My worth is weighed by those I surround myself with and the smile on my face.” Jolene writes.
The Negative Impact of Being “Super-Fit”
Not only is the mental and emotional stress of trying to maintain that level of fitness detrimental to your actual physical health, but being that lean and constantly pushing yourself through intense workouts day after day also puts a lot of negative stress on your body. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Studies show that people who chronically workout at high intensities are not only no more healthy than those who workout moderately, but they also may be at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. This includes endurance athletes who run five or more marathons over a three year period, ultramarathoners, long-distance (ironman) triathletes, body builders, and power lifters. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Other effects the physical and emotional stress from chasing physical perfection (i.e. extremely low body fat, restricted eating, and overexercising) include: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
increased risk of overuse injuries
anxiety and depression
headaches, migraines, and stomach problems
irritability and anger outbursts
To avoid putting undue stress on your body, exercise should include both resistance and endurance activities 3-5 days each week, with some more vigorous bouts thrown in a couple times each week. Eating a healthy, balanced diet most of the time with small indulgences on occasion is not only okay, but it will keep the stress of restriction at bay. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
The bottom line: It’s really is all about balance and moderation, for both exercising and eating well.
Learn How to Love Yourself for True Happiness
It is important to exercise and eat well most of the time. Not only will these good habits keep you physically well, but they also have plenty of mood and confidence-boosting effects. This doesn’t mean, however, that your self-worth should be entirely tied to the way you look. Learning to love your body and be comfortable being you is crucial to life-long happiness.
For Jolene, being able to grab beers with friends, occasionally indulge in unhealthy foods, or skipping the gym to go rafting for the afternoon makes her happy. Occasional indulgence does not make you fat, ugly, or unhealthy. It does help you to enjoy life and make memories that will remain long after the abs disappear.
We applaud Jolene for having the courage to share her beautiful body transformation journey and challenging us all to rethink our idea of health and beauty. Please help us spread her message of body positivity, and we encourage all of our readers to share their stories as well. Turns out happy people enjoying life are the healthiest and most beautiful of all.