For the longest time, I thought that being fit meant that I had to be super skinny and look like a runway model to be healthy. I was constantly battling a war against myself and confusing my curves, my strong legs and any muscle gain as fat. It’s taken a long time to get here, to a place where I feel positive about myself, where I feel strong and know that I am healthy even though I don’t look like the typical girls in magazines.
I have realized that I need to fuel my body, that body fat is necessary for me to be healthy, and that exercising should not be about 2+ hours of cardio at the gym everyday.
Here is a list of habits that I have had to develop to pave the way for living positively, healthy and strong:
1. Drink more water. Everyone says this, but it is hard to do. I had to make myself wear 10 elastic bands on my right wrist for every glass I drank, I would transfer a band over to my left wrist every time I drank a glass… until it became a habit to drink 10 glasses a day.
2. Get fat back into my diet (I always thought fats were evil, everywhere I turned, the media told me fat was bad!). I did this by cooking with olive oil and coconut oil and taking a fish oil capsule every day. Getting healthy fats in my diet was a necessity to helping clear my skin (it balances your hormones), it made me more regular and I could concentrate on my work better. It was also instrumental in helping me build muscle.
3. Eat carbs! Cutting carb intake might be okay for two weeks max, let’s say if I want to cut some fluffiness before bikini season, but it is never okay to go on a low carb diet for long periods of time, especially not when you are working out and strength training. Believe me, you will be a happier, more positive person with carbs in your diet.
4. Calculate the exact macro-nutrients needed for my body. I did this after learning how to calculate my daily macros using the “If it fits your macros website”. Then I was able to plan healthy meals that included lasagne and cookies in my daily meal plans.
5. Lift weights, and lift heavy. Majority of women do not get all Schwarzenegger with weight lifting, instead they start looking lean and curvy. No manliness and more fat burn at rest, I promise.
6. Do HIIT. This means stop running on a treadmill for an hour every day. Just two 20mins High Interval Intensity Trainings a week will be enough if you also weight train.
7. Forget the scale. Weighing myself was always a terrible experience. Water weight, period weight, muscle gain, last night’s celebratory dinner… it was always something else to beat myself up about, though they were all a part of life and not indicative of my real fitness level.
8. Cook more. You can eat real food like lasagne, fries, cake and cookies, you just have to be prepared to make it from scratch. Cooking from scratch allows you to use healthy oils, substitute white sugar for more natural options and allows you to portion control. Tie it all in with measuring your macros, and you will be able to eventually eat intuitively healthy. I’ll be sure to blog more about cooking to fit your macros.
9. Plan ahead. I don’t just mean preparing food ahead of time and taking it with you in Tupperware, but also remembering that sometimes a restaurant meal really is the only option. When traveling or on the road, I often check restaurant menus online before ordering, just so I’ll have a chance to find the healthiest option.
10. Take time to reflect. Even if this means giving yourself a quick pat on the back for not getting “Hangry” and snapping on your significant other out of hunger (because now you’re actually eating and not going hungry), reflect on each and every tiny positive step and acknowledge the effort you’re making. Be your own best friend, and you’ll strengthen your self image and self worth.
At the end of the day, I had to learn to treat myself right. All of the above steps are just particular ways that worked for me. Hope it helps you, and if you have any suggestions for living happy and healthy, let me know below. I’m always looking to learn and expand my personal habits list!
To living Positively Strong,