Hello and happy hump-day!
Today’s post is going to be all about health and fitness. As it goes every year, January is kind of the rev-up month for health goals and by mid-February, your morning run gets replaced with a morning snooze, the veggies get swapped for bbq chips, and everyone generally has that ‘well, f*ck it’ attitude towards their health goals.
Why does this happen?? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that for me, the reason my new year’s resolutions fade into oblivion is usually because they’re just too difficult/not fun to maintain. I can go running everyday for a few weeks (ok, one), but, sooner or later, I will start to dread it and eventually just give in the towel and watch Breaking Bad instead.
I haven’t had the best past when it comes to health and fitness, but along the way to recovery, I did learn some invaluable lessons about balance and self-love. I’m nowhere NEAR perfect and I continue to work on these every day, but I wanted share seven of my best healthy habits so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way!
Please note: this post is NOT encouraging weight loss (although if that is your goal, that’s fine!). This is about feeling good in your body, moving as much as possible, and eating things that make you feel happy and healthy so that you can live your best life. Ok, I’m starting to sound like Oprah – need to stop!!!
1. Track it
One of the BEST investments I made for my health last year was purchasing a fitbit. There are many fitness trackers out on the market (like this one, or this one), and I could not be happier with my fitbit. Essentially, a fitbit tracks your daily steps, calories burned, and miles walked, but you can also set it up to monitor your sleep, your water-intake, your exercise, weight, etc. I work at a computer all day, so I can easily sit for eight hours straight! NOT GOOD. Since using a fitbit, however, I have been moving so much more, mostly because I love the happy little message I get on my phone when I’ve reached 10,000 steps. You can also follow your friends with fitbits and compete with them for different challenges. Another way this has been so great is that, to get in my steps, I’ve started taking walks every afternoon at work. It’s amazing how much more alert and happy I feel when I’ve spent twenty minutes outside, listening to my favorite podcast. Much more energizing than a handful of m&m’s, which is what I used to go for!
2. Drink tea
For some weird reason, I don’t really like water. I drink it if I’m really thirsty, obviously, but getting thirsty is a sign that you’re already dehydrated! I don’t know what it is, but drinking water throughout the day is such a struggle for me (probably doesn’t help that for each glass of water, I pee approximately five times that. TMI?). Having said that, I love tea. I’m not referring to black tea, although I do love black tea (with milk, two sugars!), but one way I’ve been able to up my liquid intake is to drink herbal teas all day long. I like them warm or cold, depending on the weather, and I get some sort of flavor without any extra sugar. We have a whole array of herbal teas on offer at my office, so all day I switch it up between Mandarin Spice (my fave), Peppermint, Lemon, Raspberry, and Green tea (not herbal but still v. good).
3. Eat vegetables/fruits you like
So many ‘diets’ tout the importance of filling up on fruit and vegetables, but then they suggest food options like steamed carrots, plain broiled chicken, or a spinach salad with lemon juice. And for dessert? A handful of almonds and a clementine. I’m falling asleep just writing that. Not only are typical diet meals incredibly boring, they’re also so limiting that within a few days you’re dreaming about chips or donuts just to get some other flavor than ‘steamed’! Food is one of the great joys of life, and limiting yourself in the name of health, to me, is very contradictory. What good is a healthy life if you’re miserably munching celery while your friends eat pizza? I think most people just don’t know what healthy options there are out there (aka food that does not have the Weight Watchers stamp of approval), and so they default to the boring stuff. But fresh ingredients, mixed with different herbs and oils, topped with something creamy or crunchy, can be incredibly satisfying to eat and extremely good for you.
The key is to find what you like. If you can’t stand carrots, DON’T EAT THEM. Or try cooking them in different ways. If you’ve never eaten an artichoke before, try it! The truth is, almost anything can taste delicious sauteed in a little garlic and olive oil, so go out of your comfort zone and figure out what veggies or fruits you do like, instead of forcing down stuff you don’t like. Check out my Pinterest board for some great foodie inspiration!
4. Find workouts you love
Similar to the previous tip, if you hate your workout, you’ll never do it. Yes, some days exercise is the last thing you want to do and you have to force yourself a little, but if you truly hate something, seriously: stop doing it! There are so many ways to move your body that aren’t traditional exercise, that you really don’t even need a gym membership. My elliptical time is my trashy-magazine-catch-up time, so I’m actually loving working out lately, but I also know that if I get sick of it, I’m not obliged to only do that. There are so many other options, like hiking, rock-climbing, volleyball, living-room yoga, etc. I love Youtube workouts, so when I don’t feel like leaving the house, I’ll pop one on and bust it out for ten minutes. When I first found The Fitness Marshall, above, I started dancing around and before I knew it, I’d watched ten videos and danced for almost 40 minutes! It didn’t even feel like exercise, because I was having so much fun. Again, the more you like it, the more likely you are to actually DO it. Some of my fave channels include:
Let me know if you have any other recommendations, I’m always looking for more!
5. Up your Motivation
This is a tricky one. I can’t be the only one to have seen those ‘fitspo’ posts of either incredibly ripped or incredibly skinny women (and sometimes girls) with captions like, ‘For the skinny jeans‘, or ‘Your body is a reflection of your lifestyle‘. Honestly, they make me feel ill. First of all, they don’t motivate me to workout, and second, they make me feel really badly about myself, like I need to do more, be more, etc. I do think motivation is important, though, because I need constant reminders of WHY I’m trying to be healthy. It’s too easy to get lost in a Pinterest-vortex of before-and-afters, restrictive meal plans, and detoxes promising x-amount of weight loss. That’s not why I try to maintain the habits I’m describing. I do them to feel good in MY body, to undo the damage I did for so many years, to calm my mind (50% of why I exercise is for the mental benefits!), and to be nice to myself. Among all the bullsh*t out there, I need to be reminded of this sometimes, so I made my own Pinterest board with posts that motivate me and make me feel happy about myself, because the two should never be separated. See my board here.
6. Buy in bulk
The SECOND best thing I did last year (health-wise, anyway!) was purchasing a Costco membership! I know it’s not for everyone, but even with my small family of two, it’s been pretty great. The easiest way to eat more healthily is to cook your own meals, and meal planning/bulk shopping is so important in making this possible. When I go to Costco (favorite Friday night activity! #old), I always make sure to get grains, protein, drinks, and freezable and/or ‘long-lasting’ fruits and veggies (like dates, clementines, potatoes, onions, etc.). Once home, almost everything goes into the freezer! I make portion-sized zip-lock baggies of chicken, fish, ground beef to be used over the month, so that we can easily thaw them out and make a quick stir-fry, curry, or pasta dish. I buy seltzer water in bulk and have them on hand whenever I feel like having a ‘soda’. I always have bags of carrots and celery for snacking with peanut butter (one of my FAVORITE snacks), and stock up on things I will always need, like olive oil, taco spices, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, etc. Having a bunch of ready-to-go ingredients in my fridge makes deciding on what to have for dinner much easier, and much healthier. If you’re a little intimidated by Costco, this article is all you need to prepare!
7. Treat yo’ self
Note that a ‘treat’ is not the same as a ‘reward’ – a reward is something you get for doing something else, while a treat is an indulgence or gift that you give for no reason at all. That’s what I’m talking about here. In keeping with the ‘be nice to yourself’ theme, make sure that you’re feeding other parts of your soul. Almost every Friday afternoon, I treat myself to a long bubble bath with a glass of wine and a stack of fashion magazines. Conrad knows it’s ‘my time’, and he lets me do my thing without judgement. It’s totally self-indulgent and silly, but it’s something I look forward to all week! Take some time to think about what you love to do, what would feel really good to you, and commit to setting some time during the week to do it. Whether it’s a delicious latte, a fancy candle, watching The Bachelor, scheduling a massage, or whatever, make it a part of your schedule and ENJOY. In the words of L’Oreal, ‘because you’re worth it!’
Have a GREAT day!