This is a very personal concept as beauty can obviously be as much internal as it is reflected on the outside. We all know this, we keep hearing about it day in and day out, and yet we all too often obsess over numbers on the scale or our reflection in the mirror. These things obviously have their importance, but it should not be over blown.
As for health, it is maybe less subjective as I'm pretty sure we all agree that eating fresh produce is healthier than stuffing ourselves with fried foods, yet your diet (as in eating habits) will not be the same if you are trying to lose weight or if you are trying to build muscle.
Now, despite the subjectivity of these matters, certain traits seem to remain generally the same:
- Confidence is more often than not perceived to be "beautiful". Because confident people carry themselves taller, they occupy the space around themselves, and make use of it to put themselves to their best advantage. Have you ever noticed how, when you wear that power suit of yours, or those kitten heels, you feel more confident and you tend to walk prouder and see the world from a different perspective? That's what confidence will do for you, and people around you notice that, and respond to it in a (usually) positive way. Confident people are admired, we try to be their friends and/or emulate them. And we all like being liked, right?
- Happiness is something else which we feel on the inside and gets reflected on the outside. When you are happy, your whole demeanour is more positive: you smile at people, you are more forgiving, more willing to help someone, etc. A number of studies have actually demonstrated how the simple act of smiling (and trying to make it genuine) actually acts upon your brain and makes you feel happier. A smile is like a yawn in that it's one of the most contagious things in the world. Try it and see: genuinely smile at a stranger when you're out one day, see them smile back, and feel good in the knowledge that they will be spreading that smile around!
- Fitness is another important marker of healthy beauty. And by fitness I don't mean "being 1m75 and weighing 45kg". I mean something as simple as being able to run to catch a bus and not feel winded after 200m. I mean being able to go on a daily hike with a friend or partner and not have to stop every 20 minutes to take a breath. I mean feeling confident that your body will not let you down at the slightest effort. You can be 5 ft. 2 in. and weigh 200 pounds, and be healthy and fit as an ox. Or you can be thin but have dangerous visceral fat. Although your BMI is a good preliminary tool in assessing whether you are overweight/underweight and, thus, potentially in danger, how much you weigh for your height is not a measure of your fitness level. Someone who is fit and confident in the knowledge that their body is there for them 100% is more likely to feel confident about themselves and, therefore, happier and more beautiful!
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but if you've made it this far, I invite you to keep reading a little while longer. Confidence, happiness and fitness as well as all health and beauty related issues are intrinsically linked to diet. Once again, by "diet" I do not mean one of those fad diets that tell you to do crazy things to lose weight fast - I mean eating habits, and preferably healthy ones. Your diet should support - not hinder - your fitness, beauty and health goals. Studies still disagree as to whether eating a lot of fat or sugar causes acne, but they all agree that unhealthy eating habits lead to weight gain (and other medical complications) and that the quality of the food you ingest matters just as much as - if not more than - the quantity.
Working hand in hand with your diet is your exercise routine. Exercise acts on your body, but also on your mind as it releases your body's natural "feel good drug", endorphins. So while you're breaking a sweat and working on those abs (which will make you feel great as you start seeing results), you're also releasing endorphins which will have a lasting effect on your happiness. Exercise = psychological + physical well being. Two birds, one stone people!
Now, you've broken a sweat, slurped up your Green Monster and you're celebrating your achievements by going out with friends, good on you! But after all that effort put into feeling and looking great, you don't want to hide it all under a baggy sweater and ill-fitting pants, do you? Enhancing your appearance, and what you like most about yourself, will lead to you feeling good, and this will be fed by the compliments you get on that daring red lipstick you're wearing or that fabulous frock you're sporting. Every girl (and boy!) loves a compliment, right? So choose your clothes and makeup accordingly!
Ultimately, healthy, beautiful living is all about doing things that make you look good and feel good about yourself, in as natural and healthy a way as possible. Diet, fitness, clothes and the likes are to be adapted to each and every person, according to their physique and personality. No two life routines should be the same, and that is the beauty of healthy, beautiful living!
What does healthy, beautiful living mean to you? Is it more the inside, the outside, or a mix of both?