With the new year in full gear and those resolutions seeming further and further away, you might have started doubting whether you can stay on the path of living the healthy lifestyle you promised yourself on December 31st. My first answer to any doubts you are having is that yes, you can 100% be the best version of yourself that is just waiting to emerge. My second answer to you is that you can absolutely stay on track if and only if you really want it.
I wanted to share with you how I got in the best shape of my life because there is a major lesson in the journey that brought me here. Many people have a grandiose vision of getting in shape and becoming this new person and the background belief of that vision is that it can somehow happen overnight without too much effort. The truth is the exact opposite of that: health and wellness is created one small step at a time, one decision at a time, one meal at a time and one workout at a time. It really is a journey and it can be a wonderful one if you are kind and patient with yourself along the way.
Now that we have the right mindset, lets start exploring how you can slowly transform everyday into healthy opportunities. Note that the tips I share are what is working for ME so you can try them on for size, see how they fit and if some of them don’t feel right for you that’s totally okay. We are all different and we will each have a unique recipe for our health and wellness but this can at least give you a good base and somewhere to start from. You will see that with time, your wellness confidence will grow and you will be more at ease trying new things whether it’s a kind of food or type of exercise.
The power of a good breakfast
How you start your day sets the tone of everything else that follows (read about The importance of the morning ritual) so if you skip breakfast and don’t take time to fuel your body, you’re going to be running on empty. This makes reaching your full potential much more challenging. Starting your day on an empty stomach is really hard on your body and after a night’s sleep it’s in “starvation mode” so in the morning it needs food. Of course, make sure that the breakfast you eat is healthy: include a fruit, protein (ex: almond butter, almond milk, eggs, nuts) and healthy carbs such as quinoa or oatmeal. If you really can’t stomach solids in the morning, try a smoothie or at a minimum drink a glass of almond or soy milk.
Supercharge your main meals
Make sure you consume enough protein. If you don’t, you won’t feel fully satisfied after your meal and will be much more likely to snack. In addition to that, your body won’t be getting all the nutrients it needs to function properly. I eat a mostly vegetarian (I do eat fish and seafood on occasion) diet so I don’t get my protein from meat or poultry. Luckily there are a ton of other options (check them out here). You just have to keep an eye on your protein intake to make sure your body is getting what it needs. I love this chart by Pop Sugar Fitness that shows how much protein you should be eating based on your weight and how active you are.
How to deal with sugar cravings
For the longest time, I had a love hate relationship with sweets. I would always get that 3 o’clock sugar craving and despite all my best intentions to ignore it, it would not go away. I would often indulge in chocolate bars or huge high calorie muffins (treats that were easily accessible at work). One day, I realized that instead of trying to suppress the sugar craving or indulge it with something unhealthy, I could substitute a “bad snack” for something a little better for my body. I started having a small bowl of my favourite gluten free cereal with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk or perhaps a delicious banana with almond butter. I noticed that I didn’t need much to satisfy my sweet tooth. Even just a glass of vanilla almond milk with a sprinkle of cinnamon made my inner sugar demon happy.
I’ve been learning more and more about the negative effects of sugar and how it’s everywhere, even where we least expect it (read those labels!). I’m avoiding it more than ever and am very careful of the treats I do indulge in. If you want to find out more about how sugar affects your body and mind, That Sugar Film is a great watch and a real eye opener. I strongly believe that knowledge is power and the more you know about food and its impact on your body, the more you can make informed decisions that will bring you closer to the healthy self you are striving for.
Lose the booze (for a while anyway)
I know you’re probably not going to like me for saying this but that relaxing glass of wine you have “only now and then” is doing you a disservice. First of all, people often underestimate how much they drink. You can tell yourself whatever you like but if you’re tight in your pants it might be partially because of booze. Alcohol is very high in empty calories and it represents a double whammy because when you drink you tend to let your guard down about what you are eating.
Just as an experiment, try going a few weeks or even a month if you can without drinking alcohol and see the difference it makes in your waistline. I first did this a couple of years ago after the holidays when I participated in the Jean Lapointe Foundation 28 day sobriety challenge (it takes place in February if you are interested in joining) and I was amazed by the results. It showed me the impact of alcohol on my weight but also in how I felt. Since hat experiment, I’ve gone on dry spells on multiple occasions when my body is in need of a detox. I’ve found that the less I drink, the less I feel like drinking so I don’t feel deprived when I decide to eliminate alcohol for a while.
Move in some way everyday
I love this mantra by my favourite spiritual teacher Gabrielle Bernstein. The secret to implementing an exercise regiment is: #1. Just get started! and #2 Find something you enjoy doing. My exercise routine has evolved over the years. I was a gym bunny for quite a while, then I really got into yoga (still am) and stand up paddle boarding in the summer. When I spent two months in Switzerland where everything costs a fortune, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on exercise classes and that’s when I discovered at home workouts with Tracy Campoli which I still do about 4-5 times a week (love her!).
Keep an open mind and try various types of exercices. Don’t force yourself to go to the gym if you hate it. If working out is just another thing on your to-do list and you don’t enjoy it, you’re going to find it challenging making it a regular habit. Another key lesson for me regarding exercise is that I must incorporate it early in my day. First because it puts me in a great mood and helps me manage stress much better. Second because life often gets in the way and if I become overwhelmed with work, I’m likely to skip the workout and then feel frustrated because I didn’t make health a priority that day.
Get that beauty sleep!
I know this is not ground breaking news and we’ve all heard it before but you’ve got to get enough sleep! This is a basic need that you cannot skimp on. Your body will feel it (and let you know) right away if you aren’t getting enough Z’s. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t see time go by in the evening because you get caught up in a TV show or lost in the black hole of the internet, set an alert on your phone about an hour before the time that you should be heading to bed. It’s a gentle reminder to start winding down.
Also, don’t watch the news or take in any negativity (like some TV police drama) just before hitting the sack. That type of negative energy will just sit in your body and mind and marinate there for the rest of the night which can affect how well you sleep.
Healthy thoughts- Healthy body
I want to wrap this up with the most important ingredient of all which I talked about in the beginning of this post: your mindset. How you feel in your body and how you treat it all starts with your thoughts. If there is a lot of negative stuff going on in there, it’s going to be reflected in what you eat and and how you treat that temple of yours. It’s not to say that if you have a negative inner dialog, you can’t start living a healthy life. It just means that you need to acknowledge it and give it the care it needs so that your mindset supports your wellness journey.
When you notice a negative thought pop up, first know that just because you think it, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Second, replace that thought with one that is more kind toward yourself. With time, this will become an unconscious behaviour and positive thoughts will become more numerous than negative ones. Here again, be patient with yourself. Sending yourself lots of love is key to staying on that path to great mental, physical and spiritual health. You’ll notice that if you tend to those 3 key pillars, wellness will naturally incorporate itself into your life and it will eventually just be part of who you are. If I did it, you can too.
I deeply believe in you and even if you don’t right now, trust me. One day at a time you will start seeing changes in yourself. There will be ups and downs and don’t let those off days discourage you. They are part of the experience and how you treat yourself in the darker moments will determine how resilient you are and how quickly you can hop back on the wellness wagon.
I’m here for you and with you and would love for you to share your journey with me whether it’s in the comments below or by sharing your health victories with me on social media by tagging your posts with @redfairyproject. This can be the beginning of an amazing adventure. Are you with me?
If you want some precious resources to help you along the way, here are a few posts rich with information, ideas and wellness inspiration: