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?