I made a list of my “tips” about health- basically a collection of thoughts I have about food, exercise, and psychological aspects of health over the past year. I said “up to this point” because I think our views about health develop over time with knowledge and experience. That being said, here are my reflections and tips/suggestions. Hopefully they can help you if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of health info! ;)
1. There is power in changing little habits
Remember Amanda’s Buff Beauties post? Even she was shocked with her results after 4 months, and that’s probably because she made no conscious effort to lose fat. Her eating habits never changed drastically.. she just started cooking more, eating more protein and vegetables, she stopped buying as many packaged snacks and sweets (if it’s not there, you won’t eat it!). And the best part was- she was still occasionally eating sweets, still drinking wine, and it didn’t “ruin” her progress. Having an all-or-nothing approach is just NOT the way to go in the long run. You may need to have a little more patience, but it’s worth it!
2. Learn what good food is
I can’t even begin to explain how refreshing it is to watch Food Network or the Cooking Channel after spending way too many hours reading health articles or posts from fitness people. Hearing people talk positively about food, and describing food in terms of taste and experience, not just “what it will do for your body” (in terms of fat loss or gain) is what has helped me develop a better relationship with food. Fitness magazines and fitness “experts” online really villainize food. And so do so many people we know; as if that approach will really help you with portion control and get you to a healthier place.
And for the majority of us, it starts when we’re young: hearing our older relatives talk about the “good” and “bad” foods at family functions, or how many “points” something is.. how can you not become afraid of food, or at least become conscious of it at a young age?
I feel like food-wise, this is where I’m different from many health bloggers. I’m willing to eat “non-traditional foods” a little cheese, ciabatta, pasta, pesto, cook with some olive oil, drink wine.. and I’ll show you pictures of it. I’m sure there are people who look at my posts and think I’m not a very “healthy” person because of it, or that if I didn’t eat those things I could be “skinnier”, but honestly, I don’t care. I’m sure people in other countries laugh at us, that we think bread, pasta, cheese, and wine have some magically properties that will make us fat, no matter how small the portion is. Plz ppl. I need to move to Europe! ;)
The take-home: Raise your standards when it comes to food. This will naturally cut out many fast-food and other unhealthy options, without it feeling like deprivation.
1. Include exercise in leisure time with friends
I feel like generally, girls don’t do this the same way guys do (at least my friends and I don’t!). I realized this when my boyfriend would head up to the gym to play basketball with his friends.. and I’m thinking, “All I do with my friends is shop, go out to eat, or invite them over for a glass of wine!” Make a point to try to do more physical activities with your girlfriends! Go to a track and sprint or jog together, play volleyball or tennis, get a soccer ball and run around,or go rollerblading :)
2. Trim the “fat” off your workouts
I’m sure you’ve heard people brag about how long they were on the treadmill, or provide a sample leg day with about 15 exercises on it. Are they “better” than you because of it? Not in my book!
I definitely spend way less time working out now than I used to.. and that’s because I focus much more on quality over quantity, and have upped the intensity as well. If 3-4 exercises can “get the job done” on your leg day, then go for it. Does the abductor machine really make you sore the way squats do? Don’t think so! Skip it. And really, if anything, I’d rather “brag” about the little amount of time I spend working out to get the results I have. This doesn’t mean I’m being lazy.. like I said, quality over quality!
I lift 3 or 4 days per week (around 45 min) and do interval cardio (HIIT) about 3 days per week, no more than 20-25 minutes. So 4, maybe 5, hours total per week!
The Psychological Stuff
1. Block out the garbage
The internet is great for finding health information, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming. The more I read, the more confused I get about the “right” way to do things. And what about seeing images of “fit” people with “inspirational” messages on them (fitspo)? I can’t stand most of them! That’s not motivating to me at all. Plus….when was the last time you were at a pool with a fitness model? Stop comparing yourself to them! Odds are, you’ll never be standing next to one. Appreciate how far you personally have come. If you look better than last summer, strut your stuff, girl!
2. Realize there is a lot of psychological stuff involved (disorder)
If you follow Scott Abel on Facebook, you know the mind is just as much a part of this process as the physical body.
In this past year I’ve realize how much companies prey on people who have anxiety- people whose minds fixate on certain aspects of health, who will believe whatever they read, who feel like all the other problems in their lives don’t matter as long as they ate very strictly that day, who will convince themselves they are in grave danger if they don’t eat perfectly “clean”.
It’s sad really, and I’ve seen that in myself in the past as well. I would read an article or a health book, and at the end of it I’d feel like, “Well.. what the heck can I even eat?” Or I’d feel this ridiculous happiness if I went to bed without eating anything “bad”, and if I did happen to eat something “bad” that day, my mind would be fixated on it. Not anymore!
I’ve learned I need to filter what I read. Is it fact or opinion? (just like this is an opinion piece of mine.. you shouldn’t take it as fact.. more of a reflection than anything!). Just be mindful that sometimes what appears to be discipline can actually be disorder!
7. Let your view of what’s “beautiful” evolve.
If I have a daughter, what do you think she’ll know: How much her mom weighed on her wedding day, or how much her mom used to squat back in the day?
Sure that may sound strange, but I’d rather have my daughter see strength as a desirable characteristic, than to be approaching puberty and think, “I almost weigh as much as my mom did when she got married.. I’m so much younger than that.. I weigh too much.” You’d think moms are telling their daughters a race time because they’re SO proud of it! It’s almost as if women tell their daughters their wedding weight as “credibility” ….that they used to be small too.
I’ve chosen a different path- one that allows me to welcome my natural body type- athletic, fit, and muscular. The “look” that I desire to have is one that works for my body type.. I’m not fighting or cursing my genetics! Sure, maybe my “look” isn’t for everyone, but it’s right for me, and psychologically I am so much healthier as a result!
The more I’ve been developing my own views about health, the more I realize I need to march to the beat of my own drum. Hope this provides a different insight and a little background for why I believe what I do!
Sorry I can never do it in a few paragraphs ;)