We all know the phrase “beach body”, when people want to be lean and toned for those warm summer months where more skin is exposed than during “sweater weather”. So every year, as summer approaches, more and more people sign up to the gym, buy workout gear and set themselves goals to achieve their dream body. If you are one of those people, that’s amazing. You go slay!
I, however, am not a fitness guru, I have never owned a gym membership and I think that there are other ways to get a nice body. I also believe that the most important thing is to be healthy. Who cares about the size of your butt or your arms? As long as you are happy and feel good in your skin, you shouldn’t be worried if you’ve got a little extra weight around your hips. But it is important to be healthy, especially for the future you. When we are young, we don’t always feel the effects of lack of exercise and junk food. But as you grow older, you start to get aches and pains you wish you had taken steps to prevent when you were younger.
This is by no means a guide to getting “shredded”, as people say. This post is about finding what works for you and little things that I have implemented into my daily life that have really changed things for the better. If you want to take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle, this is the post for you.
Probably the biggest culprit of them all. Not being a great cook myself, it’s hard to make healthy things taste nice. When you scroll through pinterest and see all these beautiful, healthy recipes that use ingredients you cannot even pronounce, it really takes away all kind of motivation you could have had. There are seriously easy steps you can take when it comes to food, though. First and foremost, cut out any really bad habits you have. For me, that was eating an entire bag of M&M’s… every night! Just stopping that changed a lot, as I’m sure you can imagine. But it could be anything: fast food and take-away multiple times a week, eating a shit ton of nutella and bread for breakfast (been there, done that) or having frozen pizzas and ready-meals as regular dinners. Whatever your really bad habit may be, try to cut it out completely or change it by making a healthier breakfast that you love just as much, opting for better choices when ordering food (fish with potatoes instead of a burger with chips) or by simply cooking yourself.
If you have read my post about self-help books and podcasts (this is a shameless plug so you should go read it), you would know that I have been following the YouTuber Sarah’s Day for a while now. And she said something that resonated with me deeply because it’s actually one of the easiest ways to eat healthy: eat real foods. That means leaving out the processed items and instead making your own when you can. Making bolognese sauce? Mashed potatoes? Marinating chicken? Baking a cake? There are so many easy recipes you can find online and on top of being healthier, these home-made versions quite often taste nicer and fresher.
I know you probably might be thinking “well this is great and all, but I don’t have the time or the energy to cook.” And honestly, same. So what I have been doing is making very simple things: rice, canned tuna and frozen veggies (which are just as healthy as fresh ones) or chicken drumsticks, pasta (I add butter and tomato puree for an easy sauce) and peas. I am really not a great cook so I make simple dishes that are still tasty and don’t have much to them. Also, the more you cook, the better you will get at putting things together! What I like to do on days where I do have more time to cook is make a big pot of chili con carne or curry, or any dish that is easy to batch cook. I then put the leftovers in the fridge or freezer, which means I have a tasty dinner ready to be eaten for the next while.
As I mentioned previously, I do not go to the gym. I just don’t like the atmosphere and using all these machines. If you haven’t ever tried it, go try it out because you might love it. But I firmly believe that there are many ways to exercise that don’t require you to go to the gym and spend money on something you might not enjoy. For me, it’s dance classes. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always danced: ballet, reggaeton, modern jazz and hip-hop are the ones I did. I am definitely not the best dancer, but I love it so much and feel great doing it that I don’t really care.
At-home-workouts are also great. In the world of YouTube, there are so many fitness channels and yoga channels you can subscribe to. I personally love POPSUGAR Fitness, especially their dance workouts (Hip-Hop Tabata and Cardio Latin Dance are two of my favourites). There aren’t currently any classes near me and I cannot afford to travel for them, so I instead put on a video and dance along at home, for free! If you’re not really into dancing, you can try pilates, yoga or “traditional” workout videos too. The best way to find what works for you is by trying. And even though you might think pilates or hip-hop or yoga isn’t for you, give it a try! You might end up loving it.
The simplest way to exercise however, is walking. Go for an hour-long walk every day or a few times a week. Walk to work, to the shops, to your friend’s house, to the restaurant, etc. It’s an easy way to add some exercise into your every day life and although it might seem like nothing, it will make a difference. And the fresh air will do you some good too, especially if you are stuck inside, sitting behind a desk all day. Another one is to take the stairs. If you are on the 5th floor (or higher) and don’t feel like climbing all that, get the elevator to the 3rd floor and walk two stories! Stairs are a great way to work some movement into your day, without being too time-consuming or exhausting.
Mental health and off-days
We all remember that one time we were really sad and had a whole tub of ice cream or beautifully disgusting junk food. If we aren’t doing well emotionally, chances are we aren’t going to take the best care of our bodies. Mental health plays a very big part in being healthy. The mind and body work together, so if one of them is suffering, so will the other.
And so, even though you are on a good path and being healthy, you will have “off-days” where you’re not feeling great and being healthy isn’t your top priority. These kind of days happen to everyone, no matter how old or how successful or how healthy they are. And that’s okay. What’s important is to not put yourself down even more. Listening to your body and giving yourself a day to rest – both mentally and physically – is so important and part of being healthy. If you are feeling a certain way, you should allow yourself to feel those emotions.
I love comfort food. Especially if I’ve had a bad day, a bad week, I’m ill or on my period, I will be craving some mac and cheese or some kind of fast food. And I allow myself to fill that craving, because if you really want something but won’t let yourself have it, it will make you even more miserable. The trick is to not give in to every craving. If one night you are just feeling lazy and couldn’t be bothered, try to just cook something simple rather than grabbing your phone and ordering something. I think there is nothing wrong with an “unhealthy” meal every once in a while, even if your goal is to lose a few pounds. As long as it doesn’t happen too often, it shouldn’t hinder you from reaching your goals. And we all sometimes need a little bit of comfort food, whatever that may be for you. So treat yourself, you’re doing great.
Long story short, try to eat real foods and cook as often as you can because practice does make perfect – or at least better, in my case! Being healthy is all about listening to your body, exercising a couple of times a week and trying to avoid junk food. But do not feel bad if you have an off-day and don’t work out or have a Maccies. Everyone has those days. Just be mindful of how you treat your body and remember to take good care of it.
I hope this post was helpful and if you’ve read this far, thank you! Have a lovely week and see you next Sunday.