Well, hello there. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve touched this blog – nearly seven months to be exact. I think it’s time to return.
I’ve been in search of a creative outlet that makes me happy, and that is the result of a lack of happiness in a different aspect of my life that involves my creativity. So I figured why not redesign this blog and take the time to build this into what I want it to be. I’ve given a lot of thought to this and actually planned things out this time around, so I’m hoping that helps along the way.
For the last four years I’ve made conscious changes to live a healthier lifestyle. Those changes have stemmed from struggling with my weight for most of my younger years, growing up and gaining more knowledge, and just generally wanting to create a lifestyle I was happy with. Along the way I’ve learned some things, so today I figured I would share those with you.
1. Creating a better lifestyle is a roller coaster. Consistency is key, but it’s not easy.
It takes time to form a habit. I learned that lesson very early on and I still struggle with it. I wish I could be the person that gets to the gym every day without hesitation, but oftentimes it’s a mind game for me. I aim to go to the gym four times a week. Plenty of weeks I’ve achieved that goal and plenty of weeks I’ve failed to do so. The more consistent you are, the quicker you will see results.
When I first changed my eating habits for the better and switched to eating a much less processed and much more whole foods based diet, I saw results quickly. Over a year I lost 40 pounds and I was feeling more confident in my own body. I was also going to the gym four days a week.
I find that when I am struggling in other aspects of life, the gym is typically the first thing to be put on hold. It’s extremely difficult for me to push myself to go to the gym after a day that involves four hours of commuting and eight hours of work. By the end of the day I’m tired and want to relax since it’s 7 p.m. If I’m having a good week, I get to the gym. Luckily, I have my boyfriend, Nick, who also helps to push me to go. [Even just having someone to walk to the gym with helps a ton.] But if I feel bogged down mentally and generally not in a good head space, I lack the motivation and need to work really hard to talk myself into going.
This roller coaster ride is going to happen. I follow countless of fitness YouTubers who go through those same feelings. It’s natural. Whether you have a day where you get your favorite burgers once a week or you take a week off from the gym to mentally decompress, recognize that you haven’t fallen off your journey. This is a lifestyle you’re building and it’s all about making it sustainable for yourself.
2. Switch things up.
If you’re anything like me, doing the same thing over, and over, and over again can be extremely boring. I like to switch up my workouts, routines, and foods I’m eating to keep me excited and interested.
My favorite thing about food is the opportunity it gives to experiment and create delicious dishes by thinking out of the box. I really enjoy using ingredients I wouldn’t typically use, like tofu or tempeh, in my lunches throughout the week. For dinner, I usually keep it simple during the week with a protein, healthy fat, carb, and some veggies. The weekends are my time to experiment. I love creating my own recipes for things. Sometimes they’re delicious, and other times something is missing. It’s part of the learning process. I also want to start using the cookbooks I have more often to further expand our list of go-to recipes.
When it comes to workouts, I always like to switch up my cardio. Some weeks I will walk on an incline or go for a run, while others I will hop on a cycling bike and do an intense interval session. I try to always include some form of full-body weight training because I like feeling strong. On days where I may not feel up to an intense session, I’ll go for a yoga flow. My point here is that changing up your workouts can be beneficial to sustaining the lifestyle you want overall. It keeps you engaged. I highly recommend trying out some different workout styles or classes if you haven’t found one you enjoy yet.
3. Utilize the things around you.
Healthy alternatives can be substantially more expensive, which makes a healthier lifestyle more difficult. Gyms and fitness classes can also be pricey.
While you want to be at a facility you feel comfortable in, the boutique gym that costs $100+ a month isn’t going to change your body or lifestyle. In most cases, you can achieve the same goals at a $20 gym vs. a $100 gym. You can even achieve the same goal at home. When I first started making changes, I implemented HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) videos into my daily routine. The internet, and YouTube in particular, is a huge resource for at home workouts with little to no equipment that are just as effective. If you don’t have the financial means to get a gym membership or there isn’t one nearby, take 30 minutes to an hour out of your day to throw on a YouTube video and work out in the comfort of your own home.
Foods classified as “healthy” are immediately more expensive than those that aren’t. Read the ingredients list. Just because it’s advertised as “healthy” doesn’t mean it is. I focus on finding foods with simple, pronounceable ingredients. Trader Joe’s is by far my favorite grocery store, but make sure to read the labels. Some foods are high in sodium or contain unnecessary ingredients. However, I have found that the store offers a lot of great alternatives at a lower price compared to other stores. You don’t need a ton of healthy alternatives to make a difference. Focus on using whole foods in your meals and your body will be getting the nutrients it needs to benefit you.
4. Do not compare your journey to someone else’s.
This is the biggest thing I have learned. It is so easy to compare yourself to other people. The reality is that everyone’s body is different. What works for one person may not work for you and vice versa. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through a fitness influencer’s page and wondered why I couldn’t get my body to look like theirs.
For starters, I work a full-time job that requires me to travel four hours a day. Being a fitness influencer is their job, which means they have the ability to create their own schedule. That makes things a lot easier. I’ve learned that my metabolism works differently and it’s much more difficult for me to lose weight and very easy for me to start to gain it back. It’s something I still continue to struggle with and figure out. The only way you can understand how your body responds to certain foods is by listening to it and paying attention. It’s been a lot of trial and error for me to begin to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Taking tips from people is helpful, but always remember that your journey is personal to you.
5. Do the things that make you happy.
Everyone’s lifestyle looks different and making a change to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t need to mean working out. It can be as simple as finding time to incorporate things that make you happy.
For me, that’s drawing during my commute. I brushed that aside for so long and now I’ve picked it up again because creating makes me happy. Same goes for relaunching this blog. Writing makes me happy and allows me to express myself. I need a place to do that and this is a great outlet for it.
Whether you love going for walks, cooking, reading, writing, painting, playing an instrument – whatever your passion is – find time for it. Your mental health is one of the most important things to make sure you take care of. Setting time aside to do things that bring you genuine happiness creates a foundation for everything else to build off of, including improving your lifestyle.
Start small and build.
What have you learned throughout your own journey?
Feature photo by Jen P. on Unsplash