When you think of a healthy body, what images come to mind? Is it someone who is lean? An active gym-goer? The person who walks around the grocery store with nothing but organic this and zero-calorie that? Well, in reality, the individual walking around with a healthy body may be all of those things, or they may be not. The thing is, a healthy body doesn’t mean you have to be in the best shape of your life, it just means you are choosing to put the right things in your body to promote better self-care over time.
Growing up, I had always been relatively active and enjoyed being in sports all year round. Playing soccer was my past-time, and I enjoyed how it was a fun time and some good exercise too. But as I got older and the days of playing soccer with friends came to an end, I quickly realized that my body was feeling the wear and tear of inactivity and poor food choices. This had a direct effect on my mental health and general well-being. Since completing my undergraduate degree and pursuing my master’s degree, I realized how vital self-care really was and making YOURSELF a priority. Now, I put the word “yourself” in all caps so you would read this with the most attention possible. Your needs and wants are significant, not only for the care of your body but also for the care of your mind too. Putting yourself second, third, and fourth to everyone and everything else going on in the world around you will no doubt leave you feeling pretty drained and mentally done! Believe me…been there, done that.
Not only does being active and eating the right meals encourage and promote better well-being, but it also invites you to pay more attention to how your body is responding to the care you are putting into it. Consider it like this: you drive your car to work every single day. The service light comes on telling you to take it in for its usual tune-up, but you choose to ignore it and make time for it next week. Next week rolls around and again you say, “I’ll make time for it next week.” Before you know it, a month, two months, 6 months go by, and your car is beginning to slow down, make some funny noises, and not be in the shape it used to be. Finally, you realize that this car is the only thing that will get you to work every day and without it, you’d be fresh out of luck! So, you take it in for that long overdue service and begin to care for your car. In no time, your car is running again like new! Now you may be reading this and thinking…uhhh…what does servicing a car have to do with a healthy body? Well, my friend, your body is the car in need of service, and you are the person holding yourself back from getting it the care it needs to run at its optimum.
We can always have an excuse to put caring for ourselves off. Do any of these sound familiar?
-I’m too tired.
-I’ve had a long day at work and don't have the energy to work out.
-I’ve been doing this for years, why should I make a change now?
-Being healthy is too much work!
-I’m young, why should I care about this stuff now?
So, what can you do change these excuses into pure motivation!? Well, as per usual, I’ve got some suggestions for you!
In a world dominated by technology, why not use it for a change! There are many fitness, meal planning, and activity apps that are free to download and use right at your fingertips. Also, invest in an activity watch to keep track of your goals and achievements. I just got my hands on an Apple Watch (yes, I know I’m really late to the game on this one!) and my oh my is it awesome. It’s almost like an accountability coach on your wrist!
**If you would like some suggestions on some fitness apps I have found useful, please send me a message or email!
Set a Workout Schedule
Setting yourself a weekly workout schedule can help you stay on track with achieving your fitness goals. For myself, I have set myself 3 gym days a week (Monday, Thursday, and Sunday) and try my best to get there as often as I can throughout the month. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, set yourself some time each week to go for a 30-minute walk, do an at-home workout, or do some yoga. You don’t need a gym membership to still be active! Don’t forget, it takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you can do it in 21 days, you’ll most likely carry through with it!
Make Healthier Food Choices
The days of fast metabolisms and high-calorie food tolerances are now long and gone! With age, your body requires more attention and with that, better food choices. Here some easy ways to enjoy your food experience, without letting go of everything you love:
1. Swap out a bag of chips you usually have for lunch with apple slices or cucumber sticks. They still give you that crunch you crave without the added grease.
2. Since we’re all a sucker for chocolate, who says we have to give that up! Instead of milk chocolate, swap in some dark chocolate (60% or more). It contains less sugar and some surprising health benefits!
3. Switch your dairy milk with almond milk. They come in some pretty delicious flavours and are packed with more protein and calcium than the traditional milk varieties.
4. Feeling a quick snack? Green smoothies are my favourite mid-day pick-me-up. My ideal mix is spinach, pineapple, mango, green apple, and vanilla almond milk. Yum!
5. Are you a sucker for baked goods? Make them yourself! Opting to make your own desserts reduces unnecessary by-products and additives that most bakeries put into their treats to prolong shelf life. Instead, make your own muffins, cupcakes, and oat bars, etc.!
**For recipe ideas, message me some common favourite baked goods, and I can make a future blog post about healthy alternatives**
6. Salads are healthy though…but the dressing of choice may not be. Swap out your Caesar dressing for classic olive oil & vinegar blend. You can cut down on ¾ of the calories and still enjoy the benefits of a healthy salad.
Give Yourself A Break
As much as we all want to be the best versions of ourselves, remember that it takes a lot of time and effort to make a change. Don’t be hard on yourself, change takes dedication. Treat yourself every once in a while by having a spa day, watching a good movie, doing some meditation, or planning yourself a little getaway. We all need a break sometimes and doing this can give you that pick-me-up that you’ve been craving.
I hope this post has given you some motivation to focus more on yourself, your needs, and what your mind and body is telling you. Remember, the definition of a healthy body is different for everyone. We are all unique, and we all have things about ourselves we wish we could change. But you are perfect in your own way, and our friends and family love us for our weird, awkward, annoying imperfections. Taking care of your body also means taking care of your mind too. Celebrate your accomplishments, big or small, and remember how beautiful you truly are, both inside and out!