As some of you are aware from social media and in person, I am have become a lot more interested in ‘healthy living’. I know so many people have mixed opinions on how you should live your life. You’ll see the motos on Facebook of ‘real women have curves’, ‘shut up about the gym and eat some cake!’ ‘chocolate is a plant so it is salad’ you get the picture. These are just some negative opinions about ‘healthy living’. However you also get all of the body promotion on the other end of the scale, people shoving ‘diet’ or ‘health’ products down your throat, companies such as Protein World fat shaming, and the overall presentation of the female body and lifestyle all over the media. These two extremes are so damaging. The first as it is extremely condescending to those of us who have got up, worked and gotten better bodies (not just talking appearance here) and now we are apparently ‘obsessed’, ‘not physically desirable anymore’ and ‘not real women’. Same goes for the other side, you MUST obsess over your lifestyle to be good, you NEED to take this and buy this and you SHOULD REALLY look like all the models in magazines. It’s getting ridiculous this ‘war’ over the way we live our lives. People should respect opinions either way.
However today in this post I am going to explain why I believe changing your lifestyle to be healthier could really benefit you. This is because it wasn’t too tough and I did it mainly on health grounds than appearance. I want to provide a slightly different narrative to the norm.
Ps at the bottom I have linked some general advice posts that I really recommend, although I’ve got results I’m no expert, but the guys at the bottom know their stuff 😉
|Cutest lil’ gym in Gdansk with a view of the old town – If only this was my ‘local’ 🙁|
What kicked this off?
Well in February of this year, I got really unwell. I caught the Epstein Barr Virus (glandular fever). That in itself is a pesky thing to catch and it really does damage your immune system. To make matters worse, by working, volunteering and still attending university as normal (which was honestly such a huge struggle), I pushed my body to its limit. I caught a secondary infection of Strep (basically bacterial tonsilitis). After time off of uni, no volunteering and reduced hours at work for a month I was able to live my life pretty normally again. However, I was so fatigued, felt so achy and always had a permanent dull headache from this moment on. I was told this was normal and it could take 6 months to a year to get completely better…great, some people never fully recover and are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome…even more great! Even after blood tests I found out I had no other problems, nor was I nutrient deficient. So was I just going to sit there and take this rubbish body? Nope! I decided to make sure I was more active and eat even better than I already do. Yes, I still get minor illness and minor symptoms extremely easily, but I am so much better on the whole!
|Matcha – My only ‘superfood’ obsession <3|
Firstly, the short term and long term effects of exercise are amazing. In the short term, I always feel so energised and awake after a workout! Of course, I may feel tired if I really push myself, but I tend to stick to a good routine. This provides a good amount of results but also does not tire me out too much afterwards. In the long term, my stamina is a lot better and physically I am a lot stronger. Strength isn’t going to heavily impact my immune system, but this in conjunction with better stamina makes day to day tasks much easier which in turn means I do not tire as quickly. Furthermore, it has been proven that exercise and improving physical health does aid the immune system.
Similar goes for my diet. By eating well, in the short term my digestive system doesn’t play up as much (I suffer from IBS), I feel awake rather than lethargic and mentally I feel so much better knowing I have eaten a good meal rather than stodge. Long term? Everything has improved. My immune system, my skin, my energy levels, my digestive system = everything.
Basically I feel amazing.
|Nandos – Finally making salads delicious|
What did I do?
Well, I made a few food swaps rather than sticking to a ‘diet’. For instance, all my bread, pasta, and rice is wholegrain now. I have a bowl of vegetables with lunch and dinner. I eat dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate – so yes to those who shame those who are healthy, I eat a bar of chocolate every day and have still seen changes in my appearance and the way I feel 😉 . I’ve also reduced my intake of cheese since realistically I was eating far too much. Despite these changes, I still eat all the food I like, just in moderation. I will no longer eat a huge bowl of pasta every night, instead, I will have a good amount of pasta twice a week. It’s not that carbs are bad, but too much of anything is bad for you – I was seriously over-eating in the pasta/carb department. In other words, I have just tried to make more sensible healthy choices, it’s not all or nothing. I just try and make sure most of the time I am healthy and then whenever I want some junk, extra chocolate or extra pasta and cheese, I let myself. Because you need to live your life! As long as most of the time you are sensible it is absolutely fine <3
For fitness, I do a mixture of things. I go to a gym three-four times a week when I’m not feeling ill. This involves a mixture of some HIIT cardio, strength machines (still not great with the free weights!) and stretch/yoga classes. On top of this, I also walk all the time to get to places and on average walk 5 miles a day. My part time job is also fairly active as I am basically on my feet constantly moving 10 hours a day – it’s no workout, but constantly staying active is great for your body. Again as you can see the changes I have made to exercise are not that drastic. I’m not saying work out every single day for three hours, just 3/4 one hour sessions make all the difference <3 In addition to this, trying to keep your body moving throughout the day also helps massively.
|Never been super obsessed about how my body looks – but now I am quite happy to see the results 🙂|
I believe that making an effort to be healthier and more active warrants so many benefits you would be daft not to. Of course I have explained how much better I feel as a result of this change, but here in this photo, there is physical evidence of this change. I was never aiming to have a better figure as a result of being healthier, but it certainly was a bonus! By being healthier and more active I feel better and am much slimmer – the best part? I never followed a strict diet or exercise plan. Nor did I give in to fad products such as: Protein World, Slimfast, Bootea, Juice Plus etc Which cost a bomb and to be honest, most are just placebos. Most people on these products are actively being healthy anyway so is it your pill and shake popping that has slimmed you down? Or all the exercise and healthy eating? I would say the second choice. As you can see changing your body for the better isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be, nor does it cost loads – try changing your life for yourself, you won’t regret it 🙂
|The best way to start the day 🙂|
Want some more inspiration? Some great blog posts on this topic:
Em and Carly are fab – Great inspiration, good advice, but still all about enjoying yourself and not taking anything too seriously <3
CarlyRowena: From beginner to badass
CarlyRowena: Food. Are you too healthy?