For decades we have associated “getting healthy” with eating less and sweating more. How is it, then, with so many of us applying these principles, are we fatter and sicker than we have ever been before?!
Let me put a disclaimer: I am not an expert, I’m just a regular person trying to figure out the healthiest way to maintain a healthy lifestyle… pun intended. This post is 100% opinion-based, and it is based on years of research and what has worked or is working best for me after a lot trial and error.
Diets most likely work initially because people go into them with the mindset that they want a better life. It is when the feelings of deprivation come in, so do the setbacks. I knew I didn’t want this yo-yo for myself. I had already struggled with it enough as a self-conscious teenager.
For years, I have focused on creating a healthy relationship with food, which I still believe is essential for a healthy lifestyle. This is only one small part though. I feel it is important for me to gain a desire for clean, unadulterated food. I know I’m doing well when I’m not reaching for the boxed goods, and I prefer real food and naturally drink plenty of water. When I want to eat healthy because I love and respect my body, I gain the most from my nutrition.
Let’s be realistic though, I have plenty of weeks where I just want a box of Swiss rolls, hot chocolate and to sit and binge watch Netflix. The key for me is to bring that down to a day instead of a week, and to drink plenty of water during that day so I don’t end up overindulging. First day of my period? Have the freaking brownie, or 5, but I drink plenty of water before my first bite of food and I am always amazed at how little I need to satisfy that craving. Pregnant? Have the loaded fries, Girl! Just be sure to drink plenty of water. I notice my cravings aren’t as strong, and I can take a moment to figure out what I may be lacking in my nutrition that is causing that craving.
Now let’s talk about the gym. More time at the gym or working out does NOT typically help anyone shrink faster! We need to beat that out of society right now. Less is definitely more when it comes to working out in the beginning. If I am starting from scratch and haven’t worked out in months, I find it best to start off by working out every other day or never skipping more than two days between workouts. My workouts don’t need to be longer than 20 minutes in the beginning either. I take it easy when getting myself moving again, I have had more success losing pounds and inches this way than any other way. Considering my days are filled with chasing toddlers, this is realistic for me at this stage of my life, I am already not totally sedentary, so I need to be cautious when adding in more physical activity. (You are probably totally different! The key is to LISTEN to your body!)
I learned this best after I broke my foot. This was the only time since I began my health journey that I hadn’t worked out for more than 6 weeks besides right after having a baby. I couldn’t start working out like normal for almost 6 months because my broken foot exacerbated my adrenal fatigue. I had to slowly dig myself out of the pit of depression and anxiety. I never gave up, I just did what I could when I could. I learned that I could workout as long as it was before 1 pm, and there was a limit to how strenuous the workout could be. I remember doing a particularly challenging workout program and I had to be ok with not following the calendar, and giving my body 1-3 days between workouts. I lost 10 pounds in a couple of months this way, albeit slowly, but I lost them.
Want to know what my biggest culprit behind weight retention and weight gain has been over the past two years? It actually isn’t junk food or lack of exercise, I have done pretty decent in those areas (except for those couple of months I had a nice bowl of chocolate ice cream with Oreos every night)…. It has been STRESS and LACK OF SLEEP! These two things are the root cause of most of my health issues. These two buggers have contributed to Adrenal Fatigue, low testosterone, vitamin D, Iron, progesterone, serotonin, dopamine, and the list goes on. My body was literally ready to go into hibernation mode I was so tired all the time.
Finally, a key component that I was missing during this time was meditation and mental health. When I finally started learning what meditation was, how to be deliberate on a rest day to actually rejuvenate my mind and body, and how to speak kindly to myself throughout the day I started to see and feel a huge difference in my mind and body. I was less likely to blow up over little things, more likely to be active and fun with my kids, and I was just a happier more stable person. Taking as little as 5 minutes a day to meditate and pray have helped tremendously as my mind and body have healed from all of the stress.
So getting healthy in 2019 isn’t about how many calories I can burn, food prepping, meal planning, calorie counting, measuring my food, or depriving myself of indulgences. Instead, will eat mostly plants and Whole Foods, move my body, drink plenty of water, love and respect my body, take a moment of silence every day, and make choices because I am grateful for my body, not because I hate it and want it to change.
Change is a side effect. If I want positive body changes, I need to be kind to it, if I want to yo-yo and be miserable with my body, I will overwork it and be unkind with the foods I eat and activities I choose to do. The ironic thing is that the activities that bring one can also bring the other. The mindset I have behind the actions I take have the biggest impact on how my body and mind receive and respond to them, and even my ability to remain diligent to the task or goal I have set to achieve results.
Every BODY is different! I need to accept that what works for me specifically, won’t work the exact same way for another, but the basic mindset behind the actions I choose to take should work across the board. As I focus on setting a strong foundation with my mindset, the activities I do that promote a healthy life come natural to me, and the activities I choose are going to be different from season to season just as they are different from person to person. The workouts I can do when I am low on sleep only need to boost my endorphins, but the ones I do when my kids are older, I am not breastfeeding or pregnant will look completely different! It is OK. Be patient and be kind. That is all.
**If you need help finding health and sanity while still trying to eat right (for you) and exercise and improve your mindset, fill out this Free Health Assessment I created to help other overwhelmed people like me figure out where to start and find what works best for them! Also fill it out if you need help and accountability in making healthy lifestyle changes that actually stick, or if you just need help finding a better program to fit your busy life!