We broke the “January barrier” in the new year. Now almost rid of all the holidays’ guilt, out of the window goes the dry Jan promises and a bulk of those enthusiastic “January gym crowd” is starting to get bored… But why not keep it going?
Don’t get me wrong, everyone has to start at some point. And it is very hard to really change habits. But the January “box tickers” infuriate me. There you have it. They do. The hordes of new gym goers (that give up by mid-February), the fight for the last bag of kale in the supermarket, the fad diets, the façade-healthiness (of some people). No, I didn’t do a dry January. Not I am not a “can’t eat that” kind of person.
Now, I am a big fan of physical activity and you can usually find me dabbling in some sort of activity five to six times a week.
I find extremely motivating and downright awesome when people post their successful before and afters or achievements (only those who exercise and/or try to change their habits know how hard it is!) but I am not super obsessed; I do believe people should take action only to make themselves feel better in their own skin. No preaching, no boasting and above all, no judging.
My diet wasn’t too bad. I eat well but don’t pass on perceived “unhealthy food” only because “I am on a diet”. Above all, I love food – and honestly, one of the reasons I exercise is I can eat more.
Of course, I don’t have a problem with people riding the health and fitness wave, but some people don’t understand that only creating better habits long term, will give you a better chance of not putting the lost pounds back on, plus, in my case, it will make you feel better, physically. There really are no shortcuts.
Lots of people noticed I’ve been posting some food pics on my Instagram and have been asking questions, so I decided to talk about it here, after all, the blog is me! I will talk about what I eat and what I do in terms of exercise.
In the past few months, after feeling bloated and lethargic almost all the time, I started to eat less wheat and generally make more conscious choices about the food I eat. Even my skin is better!
I also had a few hormonal and emotional issues last year, which gave me a good 5kg of extra junk in my trunk, so I just had to make it go away. Also, falling in love with the aerial hoop means a) I get good exercise and b) being leaner is a big help when I’m trying to move my body weight in the air – and oh, boy, did I feel those extra kilos?! Action was required, immediately.
Top tips for creating healthier habits
I am no expert, of course, so I an only say what works for me. With most of the “diets” I tried in the past, it soon became clear that they were unmanageable in the long term. Yes, I’d lose weight, but after coming off it, it would return. And I would start resenting food, which is bad.
In the end, it boiled down to only a few things:
- Don’t go for drastic changes straight away, do it incrementally.
- Find things you like that can be replaced by healthier choices and start preparing your own meals. Cut processed foods, fatty meats, ready meals, sugary drinks, fried stuff and things like that. Feel bloated, lethargic, unwell? Make notes, maybe you can identify what your body likes or not. maybe a doctor can too if you feel like that most of the time.
- Add extra vegetables and/or fruits to most meals.
- Find a physical activity you like. No point in not enjoying it, you might be able to keep up for a while but it is going to become harder and harder. It took me a while to find something I actually look forward to doing, instead of just rolling my eyes and dragging myself to the gym. Progress is a huge boost!
- Support. It helps to have people around you that are willing to take part in the change.
- Don’t give up, it takes time. I read it takes four weeks for you to notice changes, but eight for those close to you and a huge twelve for others to notice. Persist. Set small goals, and when you reach them, set higher ones.
What you eat…
I ended up adopting a diet rich in protein (mainly chicken but also beef and fish) and better carbs, like sweet potatoes, soba noodles, quinoa, multigrain rice plus an awful lot of vegetables (think spinach, green beans, kale – I really love kale – butternut squash and carrots as staples) and fruits (especially red berries, avocados, green apples and bananas).
I “discovered” liquid egg whites, started baking high protein recipes. I also started preparing my meals in advance.
Breakfast pots ideas
I go for five meals a day. I’ve been having herbal teas or hot lemon water first thing in the morning then a breakfast pot (typically with oats, protein, fruit, chia seeds and yoghurt).
My mid-morning and afternoon snacks are one of: a scoop of whey protein with water, a handful of dried fruit (prunes, YUM!), 2 egg white puffs, 1 oat banana protein muffin, green apple with peanut butter, oatcakes (or rice cake or corn thins) with cottage cheese.
I’ve also been reaching for bars (Naked, Paleo and Bounce are some of my favourites) and smoothies, like the Leader Foods Detox and Energy (available from Superdrug).
Some main meals
For lunch, I usually have chicken or lean beef with multigrain rice or baked sweet potatoes wedges or butternut squash cubes or soba noodles, all measured up and with some veg – either kale, edamame beans, green beans, asparagus or broccoli; most of the times, more than one. Another dish I like is some rice with edamame beans, chunky guacamole and an egg; it makes a good break from meat!
For dinner, usually have a meat or fish (chicken breast is favoured) plus vegetables, making it less carb-heavy. Sometimes I have a couple of slices of Liv Life bread with some homemade chunky guacamole and parma ham, which is a combination I really love.
I’ve been using a lot of coconut oil in my cooking and I usually juice carrots – I am obsessed with carrot juice – or make a green juice of spinach, cucumber and apples. I have it sometimes as a snack or when I feel a bit peckish in between meals. Sometimes I take a small glass as one my “veg” for dinner.
I am losing weight – not quickly, but steadily – while building the muscles I need for my aerial antics. But if you ask me out for a meal and /or drink, I will not pass. I want to enjoy life and life is sooooo much more than a chicken breast.
Move that body!
My exercise routine includes stretch (splits) on Tuesdays, aerial conditioning on Wednesdays, aerial hoop class and stretch on Thursdays, aerial conditioning and stretch on Saturdays plus a hoop practice session either on Saturday or Sunday. Phew!
At home, I do some leg stretches, handstands and headstands, bridges and sometimes freestanding squats and lunges with some weights.
At this very moment I am recovering from an injury, so taking it easy.
Because you are worth it
Over the weekends, I treat myself a little – nice meals with the better half, eggs Benedict for breakfast… things like that. I think I am lucky I don’t crave sweets a lot, just from time to time, when I favour super dark chocolate, which I love.
I avoid alcohol as much as I can (I try not to drink at all during the week, weekends, only if on a night out), I lost the habit of having a glass or two at home for no reason. Obviously, champagne is my downfall – but no point in working super hard if you cannot do what you like from time to time!
For me, is all about enjoying things and not developing an unhealthy relationship with food. And loving myself, because, really, it is all that matters.
What about you? Trying to change habits? What is your best tip?
9 thoughts on “All that “healthy January” talk”
Great tips and easy to implement! I’m always encouraging the need for simple habits that can be adhered to. It’s all about making ‘health’ a habit that becomes a ‘lifestyle’ and soon enough, you are just ‘living’ – instead of ‘dieting’ or ‘restricting’ haha.
BTW, great hoop pics! Looks pretty impressive, the kinda thing that would humble anybody if they gave it a go! (I could imagine) Haha 🙂 .
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Thank you – starting is so hard and I see so many people that fail and see exercise as a burden as they try to embrace all at once or don’t explore the options available (me inclusive). Baby steps, hehe
Oooooh, I am really loving the hoop and look forward to doing it – Sunday morning, late nights, it doesn;’t matter, I just love it!
Thanks for visiting and commenting.
Exactly! Yep, getting that ball rolling is the hardest part. Once you do, and you go a certain amount of time doing a certain thing, it’s easier isn’t it? You don’t want to the spree to end! Good old momentum! Haha
I’ve got loads of pretty impressive healthy habits, but just as you said, them baby steps really do work. Plus working in the fitness industry, I want to lead by the best example possible!
Yeah the hooping is very alternate, and looks VERY cool! (Had to comment on it, haha) Plus the bonus with that is – you can probably see yourself getting stronger and more capable over time. Which will let you know you’re definitely getting fitter!
Improve performance first, results will follow. I know if I’m lifting more or sprinting faster, I’m healthier, more powerful, feel better and will be leaner 🙂 Sorry for such a long reply, I talk a LOT haha
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Really, I love hooping. In all these years going to the gym, I never looked forward to exercising, and now I do. People should really try different things, you never know when you’ll find something that works for you!
No worries, I talk a lot too, so I’ll stop here, hahahahaha
Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to comment. It is really good to know that someone who works in the fitness industry thinks I am in the right path 😀
Definitely! Keep it up!
If you’re going to have any kind of ‘addiction’, it might as well be exercise! Haha.
You’re dead right, trying new things is the way forward. I’ve done tons of experiments lately, just to try and learn more about myself and ultimately help others.
Ramble stopped. Haha!
No problem keep up the good work. If there’s one thing I love, it’s interacting with people. Hence my comment(s) haha.
Never comment but I’m always catching up… but now I needed to, because WE NEED TO EXCHANGE RECIPES! 😀
Also, you’re much stronger than I am core and back-wise, as my new goal is to be able to do headstands. But I’m one of those people who have been hooked for over a year now on fitness Instagrammers and will probably embark on one of those super high protein diets combined with A LOT of weight lifting to beat down my plateau. I’ve lost 6kg plus changed my body fat percentage from a whopping 34% to 25%. That means I actually lost close to 10kg, but gained 4kg of muscle.
There’s still loads to do, as not only I want to improve my health but also be able to do fun things I used to when a child (I used to do ballet and headstands, upside down poses and lots of crazy action were a must for me). I don’t know why we have those preconceptions that only children can do those things. Which makes me wonder: when will I be fit enough to join you in hoops? OMG, it looks amazing! 🙂
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Thanks for coming round 😀
Let’s exchange recipes for sure! You can reach me on email@example.com
That is quite an amazing feat there – wow! -6kg and 4kg of muscle? Fantastic! I lost my extra 5kg and muscle is also doing well – but didn’t measure, but feeling much better. Now not losing a lot of weight but toning up! Will step up a bit once my injury goes away!
I really found myself doing hoop. I did ballet for 7 years and was super flexible and posey too, hehe, and missed all that dance. Stop about 20yrs ago, but just recently bought some pointe shoes, just to have around and maybe incorporate into a hoop routine.
You should try hoop – it is really for all levels and you see improvement quickly. I’ve been doing for a year now but in the past 6 months I really stepped it up, adding conditioning, flexibility and a practice session to my weekly hoop class, and the difference is sooooo clear! Still a long way to go, but very happy with it, especially because it makes me happy!
Where are you based? I go to a very friendly studio in London, you’d love it there 😀
Keep in touch!
What a great post! So informative and thorough! I agree that changes need to be made gradually in order for them to stick, and that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy. You appear to be in great shape (so flexible!) – that hoop looks fun! I must admit, I’ve never had a problem eating healthily but I find it hard to motivate myself to exercise.
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Hi! I am really glad you liked it. I just struggled for soooo long going into diets and dragging my ass to do weights at the gym and all seemed so hard. I am finding everything much more manageable now! Even injured, hehe!
Just try different types of exercises and I am sure you’ll find something you look forward to doing 😀
Thanks for visiting and commenting.
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