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More Than: Maria of CTN

July 9, 2010

Hello, Then Heather Said readers! I’m Maria and I blog about healthy living, weight loss, and life as an English teacher in Japan at Chasing the Now. I’m thankful to have this opportunity to put my own spin on Heather’s More Than series.

“Being healthy is more than exercising and eating right. Being healthy means finding YOUR normal.”

(Source) (Source)

Are the above photos something you would consider normal? Maybe, but probably not.

I often get the impression that someone wanting to begin their own journey to a healthier lifestyle might think the photos are perfect depictions of health based on the healthy living blog scene. While not every blogger looks like a Victoria’s Secret model, runs marathons, or eats oatmeal every morning, it seems many popular blogs are written by thin(ner) runners who love their oatmeal. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem begins when readers identify this as “normal” and the only way to live their healthiest life. What’s normal anyway? Normal is what works for YOU—for your lifestyle, your body, your goals, and your resources.

Healthy living can’t truly begin until we stop comparing ourselves to others, whether they’re bloggers, friends, family members, or even celebrities. We each have different journeys in life and the definition of health cannot be so narrow that it doesn’t factor in that no one “normal” exists.


The Healthy at Every Size movement has certainly gained support recently, with the basic premise being that good health is possible in many sizes. I certainly support the idea that not every woman needs to be a size 2 or have 6-pack abs, but by the same token being a small size and having a fit body is okay.

It’s important to remember that size does not necessarily equate to health and that your body may just genetically never be destined to be “skinny.” Does that make you unhealthy or abnormal? By no means.

If you are truly doing the best you can on the exercise and food-front, then make peace with your weight and size. Realize that YOUR normal is beautiful and you don’t have to be like anyone else in order to be healthy.


Do what you love and love what you do—that’s my motto for fitness. Life is too short to begrudgingly suffer through workouts that you not only hate, but dread. Try a variety of different exercises (running, body weight strength training, swimming, gym classes, cycling, etc—the possibilities are endless). Come back to the ones you enjoy and break up with the ones you don’t.

You may even discover that you don’t love exercising at all and there is nothing “abnormal” about that. I mean, even Jillian Michaels herself has admitted she doesn’t enjoy it. The key is to find ways that make it bearable for you and maybe as you progress you will begin to enjoy it more—or not, either is okay.

Also, recognize that healthy doesn’t mean working out six days a week. For some people this might be an ideal amount of time to exercise. For others it may be way too much of a time commitment and lead to frustration or injuries. YOUR normal workouts should be something you enjoy and can work with your schedule.


Vegetarian. Vegan. Meat-eater. Raw foodie. Clean eater. There are so many labels for ways to eat that it almost makes my head spin. I say, first things first, stop worrying about labels. Educate yourself about nutrition and learn the basic terms, including how to read a food label. That’s the most important label, after all.

Decide what steps you can take right now to improve your eating habits. Do you want to give up soda? Start drinking more water? Add an additional serving of vegetables at dinner? Remember, the changes you decide to make should be ones you can live with and gradual changes tend to stick around longer than dramatic ones. It would be difficult to stick with never drinking soda again if you currently drink five cans a day. But, it would be feasible to scale back on the amount you drink and eventually cut it out entirely, if that’s your goal.

Healthy living does not have to be all or nothing, black or white. Instead, decide what works for YOU and make that your definition of healthy. When you change your perspective of what truly makes one healthy, your goals will feel more achievable and negative self-talk should end.

You can learn about Maria by reading her awesome blog Chasing the Now.  You can also follow along with her by visiting her twitter page. If you want to check out something really fun, you can note that Maria has completed SO MUCH MORE THAN I HAVE on my 101 in 1001 list on her own 101 in 1001 list.  (and in a shorter amount of time, to boot! – but I’m not comparing! 😉 ) A few of Heather’s favorite posts on CTN can be found here, here, here, and here.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2010 6:52 am

    Hi Heather and Maria,
    I don’t post comments nearly as often as I read this fantastic blog, but I have to applaud this whole series. It’s really amazing to me how often we pigeon hole ourselves by the endless, exhausting task of comparison. Blogs make that all too easy, too. But this post by Maria demonstrates how much we owe ourselves for choosing what’s best for balance in our own lives. Maybe you’ve got a great project you’re doing on the weekends that’s WAY more satisfying to your sanity than another, tedious workout. There should be no guilt for finding your own pathway to happiness! I really love the “more than” series for taking the time to show that.

  2. July 9, 2010 10:11 am

    Finding what is good for me is still evolving. If you had told me 5 years ago when I started this that I would be a vegetarian runner I would have laughed until I couldn’t breathe. Now I am. And I’m sure that will still change. But It took me time to find my way here and I love it.

    I love both of your blogs and how you show that healthy doesn’t equal just one mold. Thanks ladies!

    • July 9, 2010 8:49 pm

      I think that is the beautiful thing about finding what works for you. It should always be changing to fit your current lifestyle and goals. 🙂

  3. July 9, 2010 11:18 am

    Maria – this is a really great post. I LOVE your fitness model. Exactly how I feel.

    Heather – I’m happy that you are continuing the more than series, each post is always its own viewpoint and always so good! 🙂

  4. July 9, 2010 4:46 pm

    This has definitely been one of my favs of the More Than series so far… ya know, if it’s really possible TO pick favs, since all of them are fantastic…

  5. July 11, 2010 11:44 am

    Great post!! In the past 6 months, I’ve learned to listen to my body and what it craves. It’s amazing how much it will tell you if you listen 🙂 I’m not set on one way to live. Right now, and for the past 4 months, I haven’t been eating meat. Will that change? Who knows! Do I call myself a vegetarian? No. Because I have no clue what the future holds. It’s such a good feeling when you stop comparing and just start listening!

  6. land animal permalink
    July 15, 2010 7:09 am

    This is such a wonderful post. Thank you for it.


  1. All in the perspective « Chasing the Now

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