over the past SIX years, dan and i have been progressively striving for a healthier approach to food, fitness and life in general. when we first began dating, we took far too many trips to wendy’s and portillo’s, sipped decadent white russians every night and didn’t take nearly enough trips to the gym. it’s difficult for me to remember what exact moment tipped the scale, metaphorically speaking, but i absolutely experienced a breaking point where i’d had enough. i was tired of feeling bloated and lethargic all the time, never being able to sleep well, and countless other ailments.
evidence of my less healthy past …
all this to say, our current healthy lifestyle was not an overnight change. it has taken years of fine tuning and experimenting plus re-adjusting our tastes and schedules to get where we are now. and we’re far from perfect. it is and will be a constant journey of re-evaluation and modification. at first, there were times it felt like a lifetime sentence of misery, or that i would never get to have any “treats” ever again. i know how overwhelming it can seem to “start being healthy,” but i thought i would begin posting some information that is and was helpful to us along the way to assist anyone who may be thinking of making some lifestyle changes.
ok! so here are a few starter tips. i’ve been consulting and collaborating with all my fellow healthy living freaks to gather lots of advice and information, and i will continue to do many posts in this vein instead of trying to fit it all into one. here are a few to get started:
1. stop eating out so much. as i alluded to above, this was a really tough one for us. it’s logistically easy to hit the drive-thru, and if you get in the habit of going often enough, it tastes amazing. but what is really detrimental about most fast food, is that not only are you sucking down more than a day’s worth of sodium and calories in one meal … you’re missing out on the opportunity to give your body proteins and nutrients that it needs to function properly. at this point, the smell, taste and sight of fast food no longer even appeals to me in the least. i never feel like i’m missing out by avoiding it.
2. write down what you eat. i’ll give you this: it’s a huge pain. but it’s totally worth it to gain more awareness of how much you actually put in your mouth. the whole process is even better if you track the nutrition value of all your food (or let a database like sparkpeople.com calculate it for you). at some point, you won’t need to actually write it down, you’ll be able to keep a mental tally of your consumables. the other bonus is that if you are too lazy to look things up and write them down, you’ll find it’s not worth it to eat that extra handful of candy or potato chips.
3. drink more water. this is one EVERYONE says, but with good reason. when you are dehydrated, your body is not functioning at maximum capacity and your metabolism is not fully revved. if you drink coffee or caffeinated tea, you should follow each cup with two glasses of water to make up for the dehydrating effect of these diuretics. which leads me to …
4. stop drinking soda. all of it. don’t drink diet soda, don’t drink regular soda … there is NOTHING good in any of these products. at best, it’s a fattening waste of money. at worst, it can cause cancer (see recent research on the aspartame in diet soda). just STOP.
5. make some effort to move each day. i certainly did not jump off the starting block with intense circuit training workouts. i eased into it with treadmill walking, ellipticizing, etc. i think it works best to go at your own pace and only push yourself when you know your efforts will be sustainable over the long term. if you start too ambitiously, you run the risk of burning out, injuring yourself or resenting another new “chore.” just make sure to stay honest with yourself and consistently check in to determine whether you could be challenging yourself more. it’s really helpful to log your movement in some way as well. this could be as involved as wearing a fitness tracker or as simple as writing your “workouts” in a journal. much like the thrill that comes with checking off even the smallest item on a “to do” list, being able to record a workout can sometimes be reward enough to get off your butt.