“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are united.”
– Alexander von Humboldt
I am a certified personal trainer, but I am not, by any means a nutritionist. Health and fitness became especially important to me after college, when I realized that although I had been an athlete all my life, I had never actually been happy with, or able to love my body. I decided I was fed up with wishing, and that it was time to start doing. I found, and started going to L.O.L Health and Fitness, and my life was forever changed.
I found new joy in working out. Made new friends. Began the journey to loving my body and learning real ways to transform myself into the goal that always existed in the back of my mind and heart, but never seemed achievable.
7 Health and Fitness Tips I Live By
Whew. This list. It was supposed to be short. It started as “5 Health and Fitness Tips I Live By”. Apparently I’ve just got too many rules I live by, and layers to those rules, that seemed worth sharing. All that is to say, PLEASSEEEE feel free to skim (notice I put some things in bold for your skimming convenience). Lord knows I would. And also to say that I promise I will provide more succinct tips in the future!
- Explore different types of exercises and communities to workout in. Working out should not be a chore. If you want to make it a lifestyle change, it needs to be something you love, and knowing yourself will help with this. For example, I am a self-competitive, social person, who needs variety. L.O.L has been my key to workout joy because of the social atmosphere. I absolutely love the women I workout with, and seeing them is something I look forward to and wouldn’t want to miss for the world. They encourage me to love myself where I am, yet cause me to always want to strive to reach for the best version of myself. Also, the classes allow me to experience a huge variety of exercises, while clearly encouraging individuals to push themselves (yay for the self-competitive parts of me) without comparing themselves to others in the class (because let’s be honest, self-love can’t happen when you’re comparing yourself to others). Think about what this looks like for yourself. Do you need a challenge or boot camp with a clear start and finish? Do you need a place where you can be alone and think? Do you need a solid friend support group, like me? Whatever it is, make it something you like and will look forward to. Don’t try to make yourself do something that you hate just because it works for others. For example, I hate to run. Granted, the mood strikes me every now and then, but for the most part I do not want that much alone time to think about how my body is in pain. For this reason, I think I’ve run MAYBE 5 times in the past year. Clearly, if that was my main mode of working out, I’d be up a creek without a paddle.
- Food matters. You know all of those sites that say things like weight loss is made in the kitchen? Or that diets are 70% food, 30% exercise? Yeah well, they aren’t lying. Personal experience has taught me that I’m not going to lose weight adding in more exercise (I work out 5 days a week at least, so clearly I’m saying regular exercise is still needed), but I will lose weight if I adjust my food. Often times I will have a more successful weight week when I work out a little less and really watch my food, versus gaining weight when I am working out tons but eating without any purpose or control. If you’re serious about changing your body, it will not be enough to just add the exercise. You need to take a long hard look at what you eat.
- Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. When I first started my health and fitness journey, I was one of those girls who woke up and wasn’t hungry for hours. I considered coffee a sufficient breakfast most mornings, and then looked forward to eating that giant indulgent dinner at the end of my day. Through reading lots of different sources over the years, I realized I was doing it backwards. We are active throughout the day, not the night, therefore it is the day when our body truly needs the food for fuel. When we eat a big breakfast, we are fueling ourselves for our day and our body’s activities. Now, I am not saying this is an easy swap. You have to work to change when your body is hungry, but trust me, if you eat enough tiny dinners, you’re going to become hungry for that big breakfast. I consciously decided I was going to change the sizes of my meals and reverse the order, and now years later, it is automatic because it is truly what my body is hungry for at that time.
- Along with that comes my cardinal rules of stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you’re full (yes, there is a BIG difference), and go to bed hungry. In relation to the first rule, eating frequently is good for our bodies’ metabolism. Therefore, I’ve found that eating only up until the point when I stop being hungry, instead of to the point when I am full, allows my body to get hungry more often. It also prevents that terrible over-eating feeling we all hate, when we think that we’ve only eaten to the point of being full and really we’ve blown right past it. Additionally, by allowing yourself to eat frequently and immediately when you’re hungry, I’ve found helps me to eat smarter. If I let myself get to the place where I am starving, bad things happen. Fast and easy food that I don’t want to eat is going to be flying into my mouth in large quantities, because let’s face it, I am the living definition of the word ‘hangry’ and when I am starving, I am grumpy and no wayyyy am I taking the time to prepare something healthy or listening to that stupid little voice in my head that says if you’d slow down you’d probably realize you’re already full. So, not allowing myself to get hangry is my saving grace. I don’t care if I am meeting someone for dinner later, if I am hungry right then, I am going to eat a little something (notice I said a LITTLE something). I’m going to pick a small healthy snack and eat it, because I know that by having those extra calories then, I am actually saving myself a multitude of unwanted calories down the road.
- Your body craves what you consistently give it. Along a similar line to #3, I have found that what you make a habit of feeding your body is what it genuinely begins to crave. Normally, I do not eat dessert. Sweets just aren’t my thing, and so I figure why eat something that’s not great for me if I don’t love it? However, if I have an out-of-routine week and begin eating various sweets and desserts, immediately I notice a difference. All of the sudden I am craving every brownie and cookie in sight and having to mentally hold myself back from eating every single one of them, when normally they wouldn’t even be a temptation. Likewise, when I get out of the habit of eating fun, creative salads, a salad doesn’t really sound appealing to me when I begin to think about what to make for dinner. However, when I make delicious salads on a regular basis, those foods become the things that I am dying to make and eat by the time I get home at the end of the day.
- Food’s primary function should be to fuel our bodies, NOT enjoyment. This one is painful for me to say, and honestly tricky. I also want to be clear that this is not to say that I think food shouldn’t be enjoyed. I think LIFE should be enjoyed in every possible way, and obviously, food is a great place to find some enjoyment. However, in my opinion, it’s kind of the same thing as a shower. Do I enjoy a good hot shower? Mmmmm baby, yes I do! However, am I going to take said shower without actually cleaning myself? Using any soap? Washing my hair? Am I going to replace said shower with a sit in a hot tub, because hey, that’s also pretty darn enjoyable? No, never. Clearly. None of us would consider it. We all know personal hygiene is a must, not an option. Sure we’re going to deeply enjoy the feeling of that hot water cascading down our backs (some days more than others), but no, we are not going to skip the shampoo. And should we be in a hurry that morning, our primary goal will be to come out smelling like roses, NOT that we enjoy the hot water. This is the same as food. Food exists to fuel our bodies, to provide us with the energy and nutrition our body needs to function properly throughout the day. Just like that shower, the fuel part of food is a must, the enjoyment part should be secondary. Therefore, we should focus on finding ways to make the food and nutrients that we know our body NEEDS taste good to us, rather than the other way around. I know so many people who think a salad means iceberg lettuce and shaved carrots. I know so many guys who’ve eaten so many terrible salads that they refuse to try and realize a delicious one when it’s right under their face. Our body needs fruits and vegetables. Since we need them, let’s get creative and make them as enjoyable as possible. Explore different combinations of flavors. Take note of whether you’re in the mood for something sweeter or something saltier, and let your salad (or whatever healthy meal you choose) reflect that. (Look for creative salad suggestions in a post to come). You have a sweet tooth in the morning like me? Great. Try something like an English muffin with peanut butter and raspberries instead of a donut.
- Last, and most IMPORTANT OF ALL, give yourself grace. No one is perfect, and I mean no one. It’s impossible. You can’t be. Health and fitness and weight loss journeys are not straight downhill roads, they’re roller coasters. Sometimes you’re going to be great and coasting down, sometimes you’re going to be struggling through that climb, there’s just no way around it. For example, as I write this post I am laughing to myself in my head because I’m realizing how very little of my rules I have been following as of late. With emotional life changes, I often emotionally eat. I’m acknowledging that and moving on. I’m climbing my roller coaster. I’m going to try and turn today around, but if it doesn’t happen I won’t sweat it. Tomorrow is a new day. So please, just remember, that although we all have goals and aspirations and want to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as we can to treat our bodies as we should, sometimes, some days, you just have to eat the brownie.
Hugs and love,