Next time- hold the judgement.

Laura Henshaw

I was lucky enough to be a part of a very special conference a few months ago filled with some very inspirational role models from the Australia health industry. We spent the day working on an extremely empowering project that I cannot wait to be able to share with you all and for you to be a part of as well. While I could probably write a book on everything I learned from everyone throughout the day, one major point really resonated with me and I wanted to share it here with you.

Once I was able to stop pinching myself for being surrounded by such amazing individuals we began to discuss health in Australia and something that was a common discussion throughout the room was Australia's culture towards being healthy. We came to the conclusion that we live in a country where in most parts being healthy is deemed 'uncool' (this may seem like a bizarre idea right now...but trust me you will understand by the end of this piece.)

And to be completely honest, even though this idea has been right in front of me for a long time- I had never really stopped to think about it and I am so glad I was enlightened to this concept. I think once more of us realise our culture it will really make the world of difference.

I can't tell you how many times I have received emails and messages from you guys asking me how to deal with being healthy in a social situation and how to respond to friends and family members who make comments and make you feel isolated when you choose a healthy option over an unhealthy one. One of the most powerful ways to stay motivated to value your health is through support from the people around you. And when you think about it plainly- it makes complete sense for your brother, sister or best friend to want you to be the healthiest, most energised and happiest version of yourself. It seems ridiculous when you think about it for someone close to you to not want you to be happy- however when you look at our culture's view on healthy living from the outside and take in the bigger picture this ridiculous comment is actually not that far from the truth.

So- why is it uncool to order a healthy option? Why is it deemed socially awkward and strange to say no to a drink? Why are we so against supporting our friends and family making a change in their life to make themselves better people? I think the main problem here is that we don't actually realise the power of supporting each other with our choices. If one of your friends is wanting to be healthy and says no to eating a block of chocolate with you and suggests healthy bliss balls or a big plate of fresh fruit instead- maybe it is not such a bad thing after all.

Don't get me wrong- it is still OK to have a burger, eat chocolate and indulge every now and then. Balance for me is the key to my health. However, if you want to eat a burger and your friend wants a healthy nourishing salad bowl- then that should be ok too. Making a healthy choice shouldn't be frowned upon. The person who ordered the healthy option would never make a remark about the person who ordered the unhealthy option - so why should it happen when it is the other way round.

The thing about culture is it is very hard to change because it is something we are surrounded by everyday and something that we subside to subconsciously. You would never mean to make your friend or family member feel uncomfortable for wanting to be healthy, but sometimes we do and we don't even realise.

I wanted to write this for you not because I wanted to put anyone down or attack anyone in anyway at all. I just wanted to open your eyes to a concept I had never actually thought about. As I emphasised above, it is COMPLETELY ok to have a burger every now and then and indulge but what isn't ok is making judgement on those who are trying to make a healthy change in their life. It isn't always easy to say no to sugary treats or fried foods and it takes some serious willpower. Instead of looking at someone making a healthy choice like they are an alien- congratulate them on making a choice that will make their life better.

Being healthy is cool. Getting up on Sunday and embracing the day is cool. Not being hung-over is cool. Saying no to a drink so you can get up early the next day and workout is cool.

Empowering the people around you to be the best versions of themselves and supporting them is something extremely special. One of the most important things to remember is to respect your loved one's and friend's decisions. Maybe next time instead of making a comment on their choice- make the choice to be healthy with them because feeling energised, happy and healthy is pretty damn cool if you ask me.

Image by Hugh Davies Photography.