the great “healthy living” blog debate.

by Melissa on August 20, 2011

I’m going to have to tell you how long it took to write this post at the end…because with how much “controversy” might spring up and trying to write without offending a shitton of people…it’ll probably take a while to write.

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In the past 5 minutes, I’ve read one blog post about why a soon-to-be-chef doesn’t consider herself a “healthy living” blogger anymore, because her miles have become fewer, but she still runs. She doesn’t work out 6 times a week…but still works out 3-4 times a week. She eats meals a little differently, because she’s learning to become a chef. She has dessert and takes naps. A comment from another blogger on this post said something about how she doesn’t consider herself part of the “healthy living” blog community either…because life without butter and cream are torture.

HOLD. UP. PEOPLE.

Hold the freak up.

What in the world makes ‘healthy living” bloggers, well, “healthy living” bloggers?

Is there a prerequisite? Is there a book o’ rules I don’t know about? Is having a little dessert once in a while considered breaking the rules? Is there a logbook where we’re supposed to jot down our 4-5 mile runs or major workouts 6 times a week or we’re kicked out? Am I missing something???

A while back I wrote a post about WHEN “HEALTHY” BECOMES DISORDERED because I was seeing an unbalanced pattern in a few blogs I used to follow. I’m still so confused…I see this almost every day where someone is either really imbalanced (and yikes!, is considered a more “popular” writer in the “healthy living” community) or there’s someone living a happy, balanced life and doesn’t feel like she “fits in” with the “healthy living” blogging community.

Do we need to start a revolution here? Do we need to take a long, hard look at what the “healthy living” blogging community seems to be these days and start focusing on what it actually should be? Why am I seeing this so much??? It kind of worries me…

These girls shouldn’t at all be backing away from a great blogging community just because they feel as though they aren’t living up to a set of “healthy living” standards. There are so many blogs out there in the HL community that are amazing! Shoot, I’ll even throw a specific blog post out there, because many of you know her, and I absolutely, positively loved this post: why Susan is no longer a healthy living blogger. But wait…to me, she is a healthy living blogger. Again, what am I missing?

To me, “healthy living” is not at all about fitting into some clique. It’s not at all about comparing myself to a set of standards that other people seem to set or think are “healthy living”. I’m setting my own standards of wellness and balance.

To me, “healthy living” is balanced living. Healthy living shouldn’t be just about miles and calories and reps. It’s about loving your life…not stressing out about how many miles you’ve put in or what bite of what food you’ve put in your mouth. I’m sorry, but living life shouldn’t be about a gazillion¬† calculations. Living shouldn’t be so…”mathematical”.¬† (Side note: I do understand that if you’re really learning how to lose weight, you do need to understand the calories in, calories out deal.)

I want balance in my life…I don’t want to be so obsessed with how many workouts I’ve done that I have to post them all day every day. I don’t want to take pictures of every single morsel of food I put in my mouth every second of every day. How boring. I don’t want to obsess at all.

I want to spend my days playing with my little girls, because they bring me joy that’ll last until the end of time. I refuse to miss out on that. I want to spend my days running through a park, not beating myself up if I don’t hit a mileage goal, and accepting myself for the imperfect runner I am. I want to take walking breaks if I need to. I want to stop to take a picture of the beautiful Virginia wildflowers that are blooming this late in the summer. I want to live a fabulous, happy life not wasting hours of my days focused on “my numbers”. I want to have a blast building a fence for my home with my awesome husband, high fiving every ten minutes over how awesome of a team we are…and forget to eat lunch. Woops. My bad. I lost track of time and forgot to eat. How unhealthy. ;) (OH! I didn’t forget the water…5L today.)

I want to live my life knowing that what I do put in my body is healthy and balanced and that what I do to exercise makes me happy and leaves me feeling alive. What I don’t want is to live by a checklist someone else thinks I need to live by.

(Need an example? I’ve been following my own “set of rules” recently…with the help of a great mentor and someone I hope to network with as I move into the wellness industry myself…and I’ve never felt better. I’ve lost 5 pounds NOT BEING “NORMAL” in two weeks and increased the mileage in my runs without beating myself up to get there.)

My point is this…something needs to change if the increasing opinion of “healthy living” blogs is that it’s actually quite imbalanced and obsessive: that there are a set of rules. I am a healthy living blogger, dagnabit, and despite the few extra pounds on this frame of mine: I can run miles. I’ve birthed two beautiful girls with two uneventful pregnancies. (And I feel BLESSED for that.) I can hop, skip, jump, and cartwheel for hours. I don’t feel guilty when I eat a slice of Papa John’s pizza…with a big plate of kale, peppers, tomatoes, and red cabbage.

Here’s what I think: you don’t have to live up to others’ standards just to be considered a “healthy living” blogger. I know so many beautiful people in the “healthy living” community that aren’t obsessive or imbalanced, and I was hoping to get the chance to meet them at HLS this year. But, the SAHM-for-now budget doesn’t fit that in.¬† “Healthy living” is being okay with having that butter and cream sauce without feeling guilty. “Healthy living” is living for you. Not anyone else. If you’re feeling otherwise…it’s time to search out some real “healthy living” blogs.

Hhhrrrm. I may or may not have stirred up a huge mess with this post, but I don’t care. :) I’m not about conforming. I’ve never caved to pressure. Ever. I’ve never followed anything just to be cool. This is my life. That is your life. One’s healthy living is not someone else’s healthy living. So…if you’re not eating a protein pancake every other morning, running only 10 miles miles a week, or just happened to enjoy that slice of tiramisu…fret not, friend: I’ve never seen a set of “healthy living” blogger rules and so far, I still haven’t been booted out of the club.

Yet. ;)

So tell me…do you ever find yourself feeling out of place in this “healthy living” blogger space? How do you define “healthy living”?

Hope you’re all having a beautiful Saturday! (PS: I hope everyone’s having a blast up at the HLS! Maybe next year for me!)

OH! And it took me an hour to write this. ;)

EDIT!!!!: I need to make something very clear here for those that might think I’m being negative toward the bloggers I mentioned. I’m, in my own little way, “standing up for them”. They should know that I absolutely, 100% think they’re “healthy living bloggers”!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Jolene August 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Um, amen sister!!! Absolutely agree. Some of this side o the blogging world I love is too far to the left in te healthy living ‘way’ and it can feel cliquey or cultish almost. It’s not who you know or who you follow or how many workouts. It’s balance and happiness. Kudos for being honest and transparent. And a bit of courage for saying what most would t. Xo

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Melissa August 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Thanks, Jo. :) I guess I just get heated when I see perfectly healthy women feeling not-so-healthy-living just based on what some other women think. I’ve backed away from some blogs because it feels cliquey. I’ve backed away when foods become mush. I’ve backed away when they get obsessive. I guess I wish that one day people wouldn’t be so clouded by “what’s cool for the moment”. Know what I mean? I absolutely LOVE women like you who just LIVE. Who don’t conform.

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Cherie August 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I hear you lady friend. 100%. And I’d add a few comments to this but then it’d really start some sh*t. So I’ll keep my thoughts about some of the HL bloggers to myself for now, lol! Go you–very well worth the 1 hour!!!

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 10:39 am

Thank you thank you!!! And don’t feel like you have to hold back here…I’m the one that opened the can. ;)

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Sarah @ Run Sqrl, Run! August 20, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I agree. I don’t even have anything to add, I just agree.

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

No extra words required, friend. I’m just glad you agree. :)

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Susan August 21, 2011 at 7:58 am

I loved every word of this post. It’s like you stole thoughts from my head and eloquently put them on the screen for me! I do have a few thoughts. One big thing is that I think a lot of healthy living bloggers are caught up in the idea of what they *think* is healthy living. Mostly spurred by what they see in fitness magazines, and then try to regurgitate that stuff in a more personal manner. And a lot of people just like to brag about how far they’re running and how healthy their eating. It’s an outlet for that I guess.

I will also tell you that I really struggled working as a personal trainer, because while I am a HUGE proponent of living an active lifestyle, I just did not jive with clients who wanted to do crazy things for a certain aesthetic. That’s why I ended up training a lot of people who were recovering from injuries as opposed to the marathon runners and body builders. Having worked in the fitness industry, I saw more than ever that the idea of healthy living is so skewed.

Finally, I think a lot of people take their health for granted. A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to truly be sick. To have their life on the line and face their own mortality. I would NEVER wish that upon anyone, but I think the idea of “healthy living” just scratches the surface. It goes so much deeper than running and oatmeal. Like, living long enough to see your children grow up.

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

Do you realize knowing someone like you supports what I said totally makes me feel relieved!?! So many people follow your blog for a reason…because you DO live healthily. (Which is why you’re going to be victorious in the end, my friend. I firmly believe that.)

YES about the mags…I will tell you that I started out on O2 with Lisa and Tina, and I it was very much what you said…healthy was spurred by what a fitness magazine said and then finagled with to personalize. TOTALLY AGREE. (And yes…the bragging…gag me. You can tell when someone’s really all about that. It makes people feel “below standard” if they’re not doing the same…but to me…it makes me wonder how honest they’re being with themselves.)

I had thoughts of being a personal trainer…ONCE. And for the reason you mentioned above, I nixed that idea and went with wellness. I want to help people get out of that skewed mindset. You know? I would probably get too worked up over the unhealthy thinking being a personal trainer. I bet you were a fab trainer, though…honestly. I can see you being someone really supportive to those that really needed you.

And yes…you’re right on with the taking it for granted. I think that you’re handling the big “c-word” with so much grace and appreciation for life. You’ve taken it head on, and you’re not stopping yourself from living life regardless of what could happen. I LOVE THAT ABOUT YOU! And yes…you’re absolutely, positively right….it’s much deeper than running and oatmeal. This is why I named my blog, Live, Love, & Run. :) I’m living, loving, and running…listed the most important and abundant ingredients of my health. :)

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Kelly August 21, 2011 at 8:13 am

Completely agree with this post… and I really don’t read any “healthy living bloggers” if the rules involve no dessert or 40 miles + of running a week :) I think I’ve moved away from the healthy living blogs with my blog because I don’t tend to constantly write (or even really at all haha) about what I eat or the exercise I do. Sure, I occasionally write about these things, but I’d rather just have a blog and write about whatever I feel like that day. That’s usually the type of blogs I enjoy reading- you can only read about a person’s 12th run of the week so many times haha

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

See…you moved away from the HLBs, too…because you felt like you weren’t following what they do…

so let me ask you…if you’re living healthily on your own terms…and you don’t obsess about it on your blog…and you write about other things in your life…what type of blog do you consider yours to be? :)

PS: TOTALLY agree with you…the same thing over and over again is just simply BORING.

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Jenn August 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

This is brilliant.

I agree 100%. I think that some of these healthy living bloggers are walking the fine line between healthy eating/fitness and disordered eating/fitness.

My favorite blogs are the ones that explore health, fitness and lifestyle from a “real” place. The blogs that don’t only discuss the perfection in their eating, exercise and lifestyle but the difficult parts and challenges that come along with adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Wonderful post! Just found your blog and cannot wait to keep reading!

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

Thank you so much for stopping by and showing support…it’s great to know that when you just put yourself out there, scared about offended ANYONE, that you’re supported.

I agree with what you find your favorite blogs. :) I hope you enjoy the rest of mine!

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Michelle @ Crazy*Running*Legs August 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

This is my first time visiting your blog (I think people just need to start tweeting me and READ MY BLOG because obviously I have been missing out on yours!) and I agree with you 100%! I was actually thinking about this same topic this week. I classify myself as a healthy living blogger — but it’s not like I am the perfect role model for “health.” I TRY to eat as healthy as possible, I TRY to get the most out of my workouts, and I TRY to maintain a positive relationship with myself and others, but that’s all I’ve got!!

Thanks for posting this :) I hate it when I read comments in other blogs like “how are you are healthy living blogger?” because they ate ice cream for dessert. Honestly, I would much rather read a blog where people are willing to let loose and live a little! Part of balance is having fun and indulging – in moderation. People who DON’T do that are so boring.

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

AMEN to that!!!!! I’ll be blunt…if anyone came on here and asked me how I could even consider myself an HLB because I ate ice cream, I’d have to laugh and ask them why they consider themselves an HLB while being so obsessive. How dare someone feel they’re so righteous and perfect and all-knowing that they make someone question their health over a stinkin’ bit o’ ice cream!? Ohhh that angers me! Haha!

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Cassie @ Back to Her Roots August 21, 2011 at 10:51 am

I 100% agree. You are awesome and amazing and said everything I’ve been trying to put in a post, but couldn’t get it out without sounding petty.

I often feel like I don’t “fit” in the HL blogosophere because I openly eat a ton of bacon and kinda don’t like running. I have recipes for ice cream and desserts as well as recipes that use kale and chia seeds. It is all about balance, and I think it is unfortunate that some of the “big” bloggers are so imbalanced.

I am PROUDLY a healthy living blogger. Because to me, a healthy lifestyle includes dessert, wine, kettlebells, my dog, good books, a deep-fried dinner at the county fair, kale chips, laughing with my husband and coconut water.

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

You see, I sat up for two hours in bed last night praying the post wouldn’t get taken the wrong way. I care about people’s feelings, even if I don’t agree with what they’re doing/saying. This is why if I’m ever referring to, like in this post, unhealthy behavior of HLBs, I never give examples. I generalize. However, with bloggers like the one I mentioned are ones that should be feeling supported in their efforts to find balance…I don’t see why they should be feeling otherwise.

AND AMEN to your idea of healthy living!!!!!

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Sunny August 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Melissa! I know I haven’t commented in awhile but this post deserves one!.. Just wanted to let you know that I don’t think you said anything wrong in this post. While I don’t have a blog myself, I do read quite a few and sometimes I’m thinking the SAME thing you described to myself…there have even been a few times I compare myself to some of the bloggers who ran miles upon miles and then took like 2 fitness classes back to back and think I’m not doing enough..As soon as that thought crosses my mind I have to remind myself balance is *KEY* in healthy living & I don’t want to go back down the extreme path I battled in the past. :) Keep doing what you KNOW is right, girly. <3 xoxo!

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Melissa August 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Sunny!!!! Oh my gosh it’s been forever!!!

You said the key thing right here: “I have to remind myself balance is *KEY* in healthy living” It IS. Very much so! And balance is being able to slow down if you need to. Balance is being flexible when you’re thrown new experiences and new schedules.

Yay for hearing from you!!! I love it!

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Jess August 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm

So, as I said on twitter – I LOVE this post. It’s almost as if you’ve stolen the very thoughts in my brain that were trying to formulate the right blog post. I’ve been mulling over the “labels” we all use for ourselves in bloggy land and wondering if the label thing is turning us into what we all try so hard NOT to be: unhealthy. I’m a “fitblogger because…” or I’m a “member of the healthy living community because…” or I’m “a runner because…”. It’s almost like we have to justify to one another why we are who we are instead of just BEING who we are and being proud of it. Sure, I LOVE reminding myself that I am a runner. But it’s not that label that defines me – running just part of who I am as a person. I also think that it’s very easy in this community to get sucked into the comparison vortex and that’s when the disordered eating and workouts start to pop up. I think what’s great about this community though? That we can totally keep eachother in check if we’re HONEST when we comment on our friends blogs. Don’t just do the “drive by comment” and say “NICE JOB” when deep down you really want to say “I’m a little worried about you because…” I think we need to get comfortable doing that stuff more often, know what I mean??

Annnnd novel length blog comment. Woops ;-) though, I think I just came up with my own blog post that takes off on this one, so thank you!!!

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Lisa @ I'm an Okie August 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm

my favorite part of this: healthy living isn’t mathematical. That’s a perfect way of saying it.

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Melissa August 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Haha, somehow, I knew you’d like that part of the post. ;) There’s you, Kathy, and Tina who know me from Oxygen…things have come so far since then.

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jobo August 22, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Okay finally re-reading all of these comments…Melissa, you did an awesome job with this post. Poised yet honest, real but TRUE. Well done and like I said, AMEN 1000 times over!!

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Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect August 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I completely agree with you, Twinsie. The first thing I think of when I think of healthy living is “balance”. There was a time in my life where I went to extremes to look a certain way. I covered the extreme up by saying that I wanted to be healthy, but in reality I was anything but healthy. When we met on the O2 site things were getting pretty bad there and I started to see that the community there had many issues which then trickled into my own life. It was only when I found healthy living blogs that I saw the importance of balance and moderation. You didn’t have to workout X amount of hours and Y days per week. You could balance treats in with mostly healthy eats the rest of the time. Having a treat didn’t mean that you were off plan. It’s only when I saw these girls who were able to balance and were actually doing things in their life that my mindframe changed. I had always been one of those people who was counting calories from the moment I woke up to the second I went to bed. It consumed me. I wasn’t “living” life. I’m happy to say that my life is much different now, even though I’m still a work in progress. I think that possibly some others have lost their way. By no means does running less or having dessert cross anyone off of the healthy living list, in my opinion. I think being able to balance those things is exactly what it’s about and you are on the right path! I never want to look back again and realize that I missed out on life because I was too busy counting calories. Great post! Sorry for such a long response. XOXO

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elle @ nutritionella August 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I consider myself a healthy living blogger and french fries and mayonaise are two of my favorite things in the world. It doesn’t mean I eat them every day (ok, maybe I eat mayo on my sandwich every day) but balance is how I define healthy!

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Caitlin January 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Another thought-provoking post! Not sure why I wasn’t following your blog before :-P mistake amended!

Sometimes I find myself comparing my workouts to those of the marathon runners and triathletes of the blog world, and it makes me doubt my “status” or “label” as a blogger. I definitely think of myself as a healthy living blogger at all times because I started my blog on my journey to help myself find balance in my life and be LESS rigid about food and working out, to improve my MENTAL health. But I sometimes wonder if I belong in Fitfluential because I’m not “logging miles” like so many of the other ambassadors. It’s so easy to get sucked into the comparison trap!

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