The word "healthier" often evokes the image of someone at the gym working out to get fit or stay in shape. But in reality there's no definition that fits for every person. My definition of healthier is different than a nutritionist's or a personal trainer's or gamer's. Each person defines being healthy differently.

I personally prefer a multi-faceted view when it comes to defining what healthier is to me. It's not just about being in shape or eating right. No, being healthier is a conglomeration of many interlinked aspects of your life. You can't discuss being healthy without talking about your mental, interpersonal, and emotional health as well.

What changed my definition of healthier

I'm not going to feed you some bull about how I knew that health was more than physical from the start. My definition of healthier was just eating right and working out. I was a female athlete my whole life. Then, I couldn't play soccer or run track anymore due to injuries. Without sports to keep me active, I didn't know how to maintain my weight. So, I started to change my eating habits since I didn't know how to workout without sports.

I thought I needed to be skinny, after all that's what society tells young women. And my dad calling my sister and I fat didn't exactly help. At certain times, I would lose so much weight my friends would ask me if I was eating and tell me that I was getting too skinny. Some of them required that I send them a Snapchat of me eating before letting me hang out with them later that day. I almost ruined my relationship with food during that time.

So, I changed strategies. Again. I made friends with a guy who worked out way too much and got him train me at the gym. In less than six weeks, I went from learning to properly squat to repping 195 lb. That's a huge jump. It wasn't until I went to the doctor after no longer being able to even run on a treadmill due to hip pain (labral tears are not fun) that I realized I was working out for the wrong reasons.

Health encompasses much more than food

Kate Monick

Now, I'm not saying that eating healthy and working out isn't being healthier. Both definitely are integral parts of the overall definition you should have of being healthy. However, there are people who are in tip-top shape but miserable─including famous athletes. Your definition of healthier should automatically include your mental and sexual health, as well as your relationships.

I learned this the hard way. Not only due to my physical injuries, but also due to the mental pain I was enduring. My freshman year of college was hell, and I ended up leaving school for about a year in order to recover and recuperate. I was going through what was possibly the lowest part of my life, I hit bedrock─and I never want to know how much deeper I could go. It was a rough time.

However, during that time was when I learned what it meant for me to truly be healthy. I forced myself to fix everything I was dealing with and be normal enough to go back to school. And I say "fix" loosely, I may have had problems, but they weren't the type of thing that could be fixed. I still have depression, that hasn't been fixed. But I'm in a much better place, because I know how to cope.

Photo by Josh Felise | Unsplash

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I have a weird situation to thank for my definition of being healthy. It certainly isn't the most normal one you'd have. I'm still learning and redefining what being healthier is to me. And I haven't met my current definition of what I consider healthy yet. But I am healthier than I used to be. Because that's the thing: I'm trying.

In the past year alone, I've learned how to cut out poisonous and unhealthy relationships─both platonic and romantic─because I knew that I'd be better off without them, even if it hurt both of us to do so. I've worked on my mental health and dealing with my social anxiety. I finally got all of my doctors to listen to me about how well I know my body and my pain tolerance. I'm pulling all of these pieces together to become what I deem to be healthier. 

Society's definition of healthy isn't very good. It's almost strictly physical, which means so many people qualify as healthy when they're struggling with other unhealthy aspects of their lives. We all need a better definition of what being healthier is. And, even if yours doesn't end up being as rigorous as mine, at least find out what your own definition of healthier is.