Almost a year ago now, I started my health & fitness journey, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned enough times! The 6+ months prior that this which I had spent eating poorly and not being active were good – don’t get me wrong – I mean eating chocolate cake and BBQ spare ribs everyday isn’t a bad life to live and definitely brings its own pool of happiness… but as you would eventually expect it to… it weighed on me, my energy and how I felt about myself over time. Finally, in July 2017, I decided I was going to make a change. Now, almost a year later, I’ve started to get a lot of comments from people noticing that I’ve either slimmed down, toned up, or seem to have shifted my diet, often I get asked “what did you do?” So – I thought I’d share 5 health & fitness rules I swear by…
1. I do not restrict my diet
I love to eat.
I said this once and someone shouted back “everybody loves to eat!”
But, I can promise you – I like to eat more than the average person. I wake up thinking about food, after I eat breakfast I’m deciding on lunch, I plan my “cheat” meal 3 days in advance, I get “hangry” if I’m not fed and well – I LOVE TO EAT. If someone cut into my brain you’ll find that 80% of it is filled with thoughts surrounding food. My poor boyfriend has to sweep up his plate real quick or face the risk of me hoovering it up as soon as I’ve finished my own plate. I eat so fast, and end up focusing so much on my food whilst I’m eat (which ends up meaning minimal chatter), that someone once asked me in secondary school if it was for religious reasons, to which I said bish, I’m just hungry!
Anyways, I think you get the point.
Because of this, it really would never work for me to be truly restrictive. E.g. eating a small amount of calories every day, eating salads all day long (that sh*t digests real quick), or cutting out some of my favourite things. In the past when I’d want to switch up my health & fitness it usually was through eating less, and it was never sustainable (and honestly, it’s really not good for you to not eat enough – I can’t stress this enough).
I just eat cleaner now. I eat less red meats, because of all the saturated fats – but that doesn’t mean no red meats (I had a Shake Shack on Friday, and ya’ll know I take that meat from the pot when I go back home). I cut sugars down a lot – I used to have a Tropicana orange juice drink every morning with my breakfast and I didn’t think I’d survive without it but actually, water is pretty refreshing and I’ve grown to prefer it at times and when I’m really craving sugar I pop out a young San Pellegrino. I also eat more veggies now (I was eating no veggies whatsoever before, so “more” was easy to reach). I also eat leaner meats more often now – for e.g. I just had salmon for dinner, whereas before it was beef or nothing. I don’t tend to watch what I eat when I travel or go to parties/events, I eat carbs, and I never let myself go hungry. I eat happy.
2. I make it all a lifestyle
I don’t really “diet”, and I don’t work out just because I’m about to go on a holiday. I’ve done that in the past and I find either that i) with the diet, I just end up binging when I get sick of eating salads every day or ii) when I get back from my holiday, I stop working out or eating healthier and I just indulge in Burger King and Nando’s because I don’t have that “goal” or “target” anymore. When I started my health & fitness journey, indeed one of my goals was to slim down, but I also just wanted to transform my lifestyle over the long term. Because I’ve made these changes a lifestyle – I know that I don’t have to sweat if I miss a gym session one day… it happens. I know that if I eat a pizza the day after my cheat meal I don’t have to beat myself up about it, because it’s not an everyday thing or an everyday struggle. I don’t feel like I’m going to revert back to old ways because I’ve made small and frequent changes over time to make this something that it long term and sustainable, rather than short term suffering in order to achieve goal X.
3. I weight train
I think Instagram has made a lot of previously “uncool” things “cooler”. Some of these things can be quite silly – but some of these things, although seemingly “fad-y”, are actually good things. We all know Instagram these days is filled with fitness girls barbell squatting and showing off their massive bootys – however the positive of this is that it is making more and more girls realise that weight training is not going to transform them into a muscly “meat head”. In the past my only concern was to “have a flat stomach”, I really didn’t care about being toned in any way shape or form, I didn’t want to be strong, fit or healthy – I just wanted my stomach to be flat. So all I’d do is cardio, mixed with abs, day in and day out. I honestly never saw the results I wanted doing this, which was so frustrating, and to add to this I really didn’t enjoy cardio so working out became quite a miserable thing. I genuinely enjoy weight training as it makes me feel so strong, and there is so much variety (e.g. you can train any part of your body, you can spend a whole workout using the cable machine, you can spend the whole workout utilising dumbbells & to be honest you can spend a whole session focused on body weight exercises), and I’ve definitely seen much more noticeable changes doing this. It’s no longer all about “just wanting a flat stomach”.
4. I always switch things up
Somebody approached me in the gym the other day and said that they’d seen me around and liked the way I trained. They asked me how I approached things – did I just make it up as I go along? Was I following a guide? etc. The truth is, I switch things up all the time. I mentioned this is a post recently discussing blogging and next steps with regards to that – but I get bored / unsettled if I end up doing the exact same thing for too long. Something has to evolve – be that taking on something completely new or tweaking what it is that I’m doing. With my health & fitness I’m always trying new things. For example, at a point I dedicated myself to spinning classes every week for 10 weeks. For a period I tried a guide. I might try a pilates class next Tuesday. I might try a Hip Hop dance class in the next few weeks. I’m always tweaking my diet – for e.g. I’m focusing now on eating more vegetables and more fish. I’m forever tweaking my workout split too. Sometimes I make things up as I go along, often I follow an Instagram or YouTube workout that I’ve come across that looks interesting (my faves: Ajazifit, Kim French, Hannah Oeberg, Whitney Simmons, Grace Fit, Nikki Blacketter). I’m never really one to follow a straight set of rules forever, I just need to continue playing around and keeping things interesting and new.
5. I do it for me
This sort of falls under the umbrella of doing it all for a “lifestyle”. Often I see people equate health & fitness to showing off about protein shakes, mass-gainer, pre-workout and how often they’re in the gym (“I’ve been seven times this week twice a day, yeah I know I’m so cool”). Sometimes I’ll even see people in the gym film a selection of what they’re working out, spend the next half an hour on their phones and then go home. In a nutshell, it seems like a few people do it just do show off / prove themselves (ya’ll know how much I go on about this). There’s nothing wrong with discussing this stuff of course, and of course there’s nothing wrong with going to the gym and filming your workout – I do it too – but when all the layers are peeled off, I do this for myself, not to come across a certain way or look cool on Instagram, and that’s what makes it sustainable. And whilst supplements can be a good thing (I use / have used protein shakes & BCAAs), it’s not all about that, hence the name “supplement”. Living to try and impress other people? Pssh… that will never sustain you and it should never drive you.