All the information in the media regarding your health is completely overwhelming and confusing. It is hard to understand what is good advice ~ bad advice and what is just a fad! We live in a culture of information overload, there are so many diets, fitness techniques, celebrity trainers and nutrition books out there, navigating through it all can be very difficult. Amongst my peers I am a self-proclaimed expert in this arena. If there is a “Diet” or “Exercise regime” circulating that lends it’s hand to make a person “fitter” or “healthier” I have tried it.
Fitness and a healthy lifestyle wasn’t always the case for my life. I wasn’t athletic growing up, I danced, but saw it more as a creative outlet, rather than a way to be active. I also didn’t have any regard for what “healthy ” and “not healthy foods” were. I had no concept of what a calorie was until I was in my early 20s. Actually, I quite frequently remember making myself Kraft dinner or Nachos as an after-school snack!
That was all fine as an active teenager, but then things changed for me. I stopped dancing, moved away from home, started college, and discovered what a blended bellini was at Moxie’s.
SubsequentlyI gained the freshman 15. It blindsided me, as I had no idea how and why it happened!!
This is how and when my interest in fitness started. What started out as quest to lose the marshmallowy layer than a gained ever so quickly my first 6 months of college, became a hobby/interest.
Like I said over the years I have tried it all: Weight Watchers, The Zone, South Beach, Paleo, Raw/Vegan, Intermittent fasting, “Clean Eating”, Curves, Personal Trainers, Boxing, Bootcamps, Yoga, Pilates, Spinning, Tracy Anderson videos, Pop Physique you name it- been there done that! At certain times it was to get in “better shape,” at other times I think it came about as a new “project” or hobby to focus on.
My friend pointed this quote out to me one time from Mindy Kaling and laughed at how relate-able I thought it was!
It seems women have somehow made “dieting” a part of our modern day culture. I sense that at the root of it comes from a genuine interest of losing weight, but that it transitions into a sense of comradery amongst girlfriends. I can’t tell you how many times a friend has called me and relived her last week of working out and dieting…
“On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I went for a run, Thursday I did yoga and then on Sunday I did a bootcamp class. On Monday I ate Scrambled Egg whites and blueberries for breakfast…then I slipped up and had a burrito, but then I didn’t eat dinner.. etc etc” (you know what I am talking about – we have all been there)
Throughout my adult life, my interests, responsibilities and hobbies have evolved. Where at one time I had tonnes of time to workout, meal prep and read articles and books about different dieting and fitness techniques.. I just don’t have time anymore! I also don’t have the will or the desire. I am tapped out.
Also, the older I get the more my focus shifts from looking “aesthetically” good (although I do still want to look good) to more so how I am going extend my energy, slow down the aging process and keep my body functioning at an optimal level. Furthermore, you know what the common denominators about diet’s are ?? They all work. They really do. But then you as soon as your get off your “diet” and back to a “normal” lifestyle… you cannot sustain whatever restriction you put on your food choices. Losing and gaining weight is not fun – its depressing! Which is why I have learned that the focus needs to be on a lifestyle with a focus on overall balance, well-being and health that you can literally sustain… forever!
This has been a journey for me and I have identified some tools that have made the biggest changes in helping me through the process.
Here they are to share with you:
Meditation has been a thorn in my side for years now. It has always been one of those things that I think “oh someday… someday when I have time” – which really – if you don’t have time to meditate is probably when you actually need it. For some reason it seemed so daunting to try to think about learning to quiet my mind, while chanting, or praying or something of the sort.
That was until I heard a podcast that made a great point, which inherently made me take some pressure off of myself.
It said, ‘meditation to some might be praying, chanting in or sitting in silence, but for others it can manifest in different ways.’ ‘ Don’t label what meditation is. For you it could be running, or taking a walk in the morning and listening to a podcast, or maybe its writing in a journal.’
The point was – don’t “label” what you think meditation should be, just do something that is enjoyable to you, calms your mind, and makes you focus on being present.
Living in Los Angeles, walking seems like it is virtually impossible. When I lived in Vancouver, BC I walked everywhere. Not a conscious ” Oh I am walking and this is exercise” type of walk – but I walked as a mode of transportation – to get groceries, to go to the gym, to meet friends, etc. To that point – when I did live in Vancouver for three years, I actually TRIED to gain weight… and I couldn’t. More to that ~ everytime I go to Europe, I eat whatever I want and I still come back to the US with loose clothing.
10,000 steps a day is the ultimate goal. I find as long as I am conscious about it and I have at least a 45 mins walk somewhere (outside or on the treadmill) while still driving as a daily routine, I can hit 10,000 steps.
Walking makes me feel alive and active without going to the gym! It also does not appetite increaser as opposed to workouts at the gym.
Starting out – a pedometer is a great tool to learn about how much you probably are “not walking” in a day.
3. Podcasts and Audiobooks
I love to read. Anyone around me would probably never know that because the last book I read, was on the last vacation I took. With limited time and energy in the day I find it so hard to find time to read. It is something that I regularly think about… (kind of like the mediation thing ) in which I wished I had time for it… but by the time I go to bed at night, I can usually read about one page and I have fallen asleep.
What I do have time for though is walking and driving (because I have to do them anyway). Which is how audiobooks and podcasts came into the picture!
I actually become much more inspired to start down the road of re prioritizing and approaching my well-being from a podcast I heard on the Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson. He was interviewing a former fitness model by the name of Maddy Moon. While listening to the podcast I felt like she was speaking to me! I really related to everything she had to say in sharing her experiences on her own journey with diet and exercise. She gained me as a fan after that interview, which lead me to be a a devotee of her podcast channel. All of her interviewees that she has on her show all lend very different, thoughtful insight on well-being and a balanced lifestyle.
Photo Courtesy of Maddy Moon
4. Quitting Splenda
Boy oh boy.. this was a tough one for me. There was a time when I was 22 or 23 when I was have probably having 12 Splendas a day. Since that time I have significantly cut down, but I recently came to a point with all the shifts that I had been making that I felt it was just so unnecessary… it didn’t feel good or right for my body. I had always had heard nutrition experts say, “Artificial sweeteners increase your sweet tooth.” To which I always had thought ” Pshya … whatever. I have always had a sweet tooth ~ that is a load of crock.” But I have to admit… now that I am on the other side… they were kinda right! Don’t get my wrong I still need to have dessert at least once a week , but my sweet tooth has SIGNIFICANTLY decreased. And I feel better about the fact that when I do have sugar – it isn’t some modified, man-made substance.
5. Sleeping more
I used to think the less sleep I could function on the more I could get done hence the more rock-star I would be.
5:30am workout ? No big deal. Work until 11pm, sleeping by 12pm and another 5:30am workout – That’s fine… I got this. I came to realize that – that way of living does nothing good for your body in the long run. Sleep is like the magic potion that regulates your mood, energy level, hormones and weight and guess what… it is totally free! I think we can all admit as well… if computers were never invented- we would sleep WAY more! Unfortunately and fortunately that is not a reality – so we have to make sleep just as much as a priority as all the other “healthy habits” in our life.
Shawn Stevenson (fitness and health expert) wrote a book on it ~ It is that important.
Sleeping more has given me so many noticeable benefits, including quicker recovery from workouts, better immunity, and I am in a better mood throughout the day!
I could go on… but I will stop at those 5 things. This is a part of my new action plan to become a healthier person. Take what appeals to you and hopefully something I have said sparks a curiosity and a new thought in how to achieve more well-being in your own life.
Here are some helpful websites/podcasts and books that I like!
The Calorie Myth – By Jonathan Bailor
Diet Recovery – Matt Stone
Sleep Smarter – Shawn Stevenson