If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my fitness journey it’s that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Often times, the biggest triumphs of all can’t be measured in numbers.
Most people will say they want to “live a healthy lifestyle,” when what they really mean to say is that they want to lose weight through diet and exercise. But does this weight management approach to wellness work in the long-term? Is their lifestyle actually changing? I’d argue that it’s not. Not really.
The way to achieve optimal health and wellness is to bring awareness to how the combination of mental, physical and social health affects your overall wellbeing. (These can be broken down into several other categories, but for now we’ll focus on these three.)
It’s easy to dismiss how our mental state impacts our physical and vice versa—don’t get caught in a vicious cycle of one negative component influencing the others! Here are some ways to promote healthy habits in each category:
- Mental: Short breaks from work have been proven to increase productivity and work satisfaction.
- Physical: Small changes matter—going for a daily walk and eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet are great steps toward positive physical change!
- Social: Human beings are naturally social creatures. Take a step outside your comfort zone and start a conversation with your neighbor or join a local fitness group. Community support goes a long way in staying focused on achieving your goals.
A great way to get started is to take a personal health assessment. By answering a few questions, you can get a look at what areas in your life you should pay more attention to. This insight will lead to a development of life-long healthy habits, for a healthier AND happier you.
Sitting too much can literally kill you.
Ok…so maybe that’s a bit dramatic…but sitting too much should scare you!
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys, which examines about 5,000 people in United States each year (Nelson & Zeratsky, 2012), 50-70% of people sit for 6 or more hours per day. That might seem like a lot, but if you think about the “average” daily schedule of a 9-5er, that isn’t far off the mark.
So how does this impact our health? Too sedentary of a lifestyle can cause:
- Low energy
- Slower metabolism
- Back and spine injuries
- Risk of heart disease
How can you combat this? It’s easy – get moving!
- Stand every hour – take a quick trip to the bathroom or go get some coffee.
- Park farther away – sure that front row spot is nice, but those in the back are better for you!
- Track your steps with an activity tracker – Using an activity tracker that monitors your idle time and steps is a great way to see what your daily activity looks like.
- Take the stairs – if it’s possible, always (always!) take the stairs.
- Outdoor walk – walking is good for the soul and the body!
So, are you sitting too much? What can you do to become more active?
This is something I’m asked often – “What is clean eating?” “How do you do it?”
Eating clean is about hitting refresh on your eating habits – eating more of the healthiest options in each food group and less of the not-so-healthy. Eating clean means you’ll finally understand why your Mom always told you to eat your greens: because they’re good for you!
It’s about paying attention to what’s going into your body and how your food affects you!
Here’s the simple answer to these questions – clean eating is eliminating (or trying to) the processed foods from your diet. It’s about making healthy and informed choices.
I say “try to” eliminate processed food because, let’s face it, we’re all busy. We’re all running from point A to point B at a million miles per hour; we all need food that’s convenient and fast. But that doesn’t mean the food needs to come from a vending machine or drive-thru window. With a little bit of know-how and preparation, we can all eat cleaner and live healthier lives.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Limit processed foods: Most processed foods are full of unnecessary ingredients like sodium, sugar and fat. There’s a reason why that bag of candy is two servings and a reason for why you eat it all at once!
Simple tip: If the list of ingredients is long and unpronounceable, chances are that “food” contains A TON of processed junk!
- Eat more vegetables: Vegetables are high in vitamins, fiber, low in calories and just all around good for you! The recommended daily amount for most adults is 2 ½ to 3 cups.
Simple tip: Squeeze your veggies into a morning omelet, have them as a midday snack or incorporate some into a healthy smoothie!
- Last call for alcohol: Eating clean also includes cleaning up what you drink. Staying within the recommended amounts per day is a safer way to some spirits without breaking the scale the next day.
- Lose the sugar: Reducing your added sugar intake is one of the easiest ways to jumpstart a path toward a healthier diet. Sure, it’s hard and yes, you will have withdrawal symptoms – headache, grogginess, mood swings; but it’s also worth it. Eliminating sodas, candy and baked goods is a good place to start.
- More fruit, please: Fruit – or “nature’s candy” – is naturally sweet and delicious. If you’re over indulging in processed sweets, you just might not be able to notice it! Rich in vitamins, fruit is a great way to round out a healthy eating plan.
Buyer beware! If you’re not buying fresh fruit, frozen, canned and dried fruit is minimally processed and are all great options. Make sure you read the ingredients list – look for no added sugar and fruit canned in its own juice.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question: How do you do it? How do you get up every morning and workout? And stay on your meal plans? And not lose focus?
Let me start off with this – I’m not 110% committed. There, I admit it! I occasionally wake up late and need another hour of sleep; I don’t workout every day; I have cheat days!
I’M NOT PERFECT. No one is. But I STAY FOCUSED on my goals!
- You have to commit yourself! I work for EVERY pound lost, EVERY drop of sweat. If you’re not putting in the work, why would you expect to see results?
It’s important to establish goals in the beginning, that way you have something to look forward to! Don’t dwell on the bumps along the road – life happens. The journey of adapting a healthier lifestyle is what you should be focused on.
- Plan ahead. I cannot stress this one enough. Plan your meals a week in advance – I typically meal plan and grocery shop on Sundays – and plan your workouts! It might seem silly at first, but after one week of executing your plan, you’ll ask yourself how you ever managed to go without it!
Even if you’re a busy mom or a working professional (or both), spend an hour or two, one day a week and plan it out.
- Set your goals. You have to define what your goals are – what your personal hopes and dreams are…not your neighbors. This is no time to keep up with the Joneses.
Who/what are you fighting for? Why do I want/need this change? These are KEY GOALS to keep in mind as you struggle, as you fight to change.
- Face your fears! Your about to turn your life upside down, at a 45 degree angle. Yes, it’s scary. It’s hard. And, at times, it seems impossible. That’s the beauty of change. If it doesn’t scare you, then you’re not trying hard enough.
I have faced every single fear there is about transitioning over to healthier habits. I struggle with emotional and binge eating. I struggle to PUSH PLAY.
I want you to remember what I remind myself of everyday:
~ You are capable of doing this. YOU ARE BRAVE ENOUGH, STRONG ENOUGH.
~ YOU ARE everything you need to be to BECOME WHO YOU WANT TO BE.
Now, get out there and shred it!
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me, so here’s a quick update:
- I’m wrapping up week two of my gluten free adventure! Yay, me! I can’t say it’s been easy and there have DEFINITELY been withdrawal symptoms (mostly from sugar detox) but it’s worth it. And everyday I feel stronger. 🙂
- Work is STRESSING ME OUT! I think these past few weeks have made me really appreciate down time, deep breathing and walking away from my work email, just to catch my breath!
- Continuing from the last comment…I found this really cool de-stressing tool online – it’s called Pixel Thoughts – check it out here.
Basically, you type in something you’re concerned about into the bubble; the website then walks you through a de-stress exercise as you watch your concern get smaller and smaller, until it finally disappears! How cool is that?
That’s it for now! TTYL
Here’s a look at the fresh fruit/veggie market I go to:
It seriously has some of the best tasting food for REALLY good prices! Spent $20 on groceries that would have easily cost $50 at a regular store! #EatClean #BuyLocal
Every year during the month of November people share what they’re thankful for. These things can range from their faith and trust in God to family and from having a job to general good health.
I decided I would keep this tradition alive and share a few things I’m thankful for. 🙂
- My Family – without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t have the courage to seek the best out of life.
- My Health – while I’ve had my ups and downs in this department, I would consider myself to be in good health overall.
- My Job – I am extremely thankful that I was able to land a job within 3 months of graduating college AND one that related to my major! I find that this is something rare among millennial college graduates who often settle for jobs they can get.
- God’s Grace – In all things I seek His guidance and advice. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for prayer and listening to their answers.
What are you thankful for?
I’m putting this here so I’ll always remember – the DOs outweigh the DON’Ts.
Why I DON’T want to lose weight…
- I like food…greasy, carb-y, so-not-good-for-you food…smothered in gravy.
- I don’t have time to workout. I mean, I have TV to watch, Netflix to binge on and LOTS of eating to do!
- Changing my diet is way TOO hard! And expensive! I just bought 10 boxes of mac n’ cheese on BOGO – I can’t just throw it all away!
Why I DO want to lose weight…
- I need to LIVE A HEALTHIER LIFE. Find out what the risks of fat are, here.
- I want to TAKE CHARGE. I’m tired of being a backseat driver – I want to live my life without feeling limited by my size!
- I want to LOOK & FEEL better – inside and out. Health starts from the inside, out – can you imagine what that must feel like? To accept yourself and heal from within??
- I want to FEEL BEAUTIFUL and COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN.
There are like 1,000+ more reasons that could placed in either category…these are just a few that are circling around in my head.
*Opinions expressed above are solely my own and in no way represent the opinions or viewpoints of others. No harm is intended by this post – everyone’s weight loss journey is different and stems from different motivators! 🙂
Each time I think about changing my diet, my first thought is this – what can I cut out of my diet? Every carb, sweet and processed thing I’ve eaten in the past month runs through my head…pizza…cupcakes…candy…and on, and on and on.
And when that happens, so do the negative thoughts.
For as many times as I’ve started and stopped a diet and exercise regimen you would think that I would know being successful starts with your mindset and everything else comes second.
You have to commit. Zero-in on what you want to do with a new lifestyle and what you want to do differently. Because this is a lifestyle change – for you and your family and friends.
Why are you saying “YES!” to a healthier lifestyle?
The older I get, or rather the older I FEEL, I’m beginning to understand the TRUE VALUE and IMPORTANCE of “me” time.
I, like many people I know, have a problem with stress. Must more importantly, stress management. I recently read in article in Shape magazine about iceberg stress – how we’re only really aware of a fraction of the stress we have and like an iceberg, there’s a whole lot more going on just under the surface.
They key to managing this kind of stress and not driving yourself crazy in the process is to first actually determine what you’re stressed about. I find that writing down ALL of the things I’m obsessively thinking about helps me actually SEE what’s going on in my head – without me even realizing it!
The second thing to do is find a stress management system that works for you! I enjoy photography, journaling, meditation, yoga and exercise, as well as a good old-fashioned nap! Sometimes these activities last an hour or more, and other times I just need a quick 5-10 minute meditation session to help clear my mind.
By doing these simple things, we can begin to understand what’s going on in our life a little bit better.
What’s REALLY lurking beneath the surface? (Photo courtesy of StressExperts.)
So – how do you deal with stress? Meditation and yoga? Do you go on short walks during the day to clear your mind? What works and what doesn’t – I want to hear!