It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to make your day to day life a little healthier. Thank goodness, since most of us don’t have enough hours in the day to get to the gym as is, I know I don’t! But I’ve learned to develop five healthy habits that help in keeping me fit and feeling healthy even when I don’t have time for an intense workout. I’m not much of a fitness guru, and I don’t actually own a gym membership at all. I’m a firm believer in learning to love your body, treating it as a temple and discovering easy and enjoyable ways to exercise and keep moving. Easy and enjoyable being the key words here.
I used to struggle with this in my younger years, majorly. I would stare at myself in the mirror and nit pick every flaw and inch of fat. I started writing down every morsel of food I ate and counting calories, and as you can imagine I worked out every single day. But this kind of thinking and exercise ironically doesn’t make you any healthier, it can actually have quite the negative effect on your mental health and well being. I would always find another imperfection, another girl to compare myself to and wish I looked like. It wasn’t until I changed my motivations and the people I surrounded myself with that I woke up. I didn’t need to be around girls who would sit across from me and evaluate whose collar bones protruded more. Crazy right? You are what you eat, but you also are who you hang out with.
We all have different body types, and a lot of it has to do with genetics but there are definitely healthy habits for life that you can easily incorporate into your daily schedule. Staying fit and healthy does take effort, but that’s true in developing any kind of habit (except for the bad ones I suppose). Once it’s incorporated seamlessly into your life though, it will happen naturally and you won’t even notice. That’s why I’m calling them easy and enjoyable healthy habits!
Take The Darn Stairs
I used to live on the second floor in a condominium so I often felt obligated to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I mean it’s only a few flights. However, getting up to my condo from the parking garage was a different story entirely. My parking spot was located four flights underground, so two flights of stairs suddenly became six when I got home in my car. I felt like I now had a legitimate excuse to take the elevator, especially if I was wearing heels. But then, guilt got to me. I thought to myself “oh you were doing so well taking the stairs, would six flights be so bad?” Well yes it was so bad obviously, but only at first. I began challenging myself to make the climb whenever I got home from being out and about, so sometimes multiple times a day. I would enter the corridor and eye the elevator, but feel like I was cheating if I took it, so up the flights I went. I actually started losing weight and increasing my stamina because of this behaviour alone, as I hadn’t changed anything else.
I’ve since moved to a different building (and different city, more on that in “How Do You Handle Change?”) and am now residing on the tenth floor. I know, you’re thinking I’m nuts to take ten flights of stairs, but I do it. It was absolutely terrible at first, and sometimes still is, but I take a break if necessary and keep going.
No, I don’t climb them everyday, and certainly not when I’ve got a load of groceries in hand; but if I have no excuse I motivate myself to get at those stairs. It’s now become a habit to do this at least a few times a week no matter how crazy my neighbours think I am. Are the stairs fun? No, of course not! But if presented with a choice between stairs, elevator or escalator, choose the darn stairs, just do it.
Get Your Butt Outside
Ok so stairs aren’t at all enjoyable, but playing outside definitely is. I know, a blogger that goes outside to do something other than take photos in natural light!? They do exist! I’m right here (but yes, I’m equally guilty of this).
Getting outside can be challenging depending on what kind of climate you live in and what time of year it is, but if it’s warm, sunny and beautiful you should take the time to get out there – but I don’t mean drinking on a patio. Living in Canada our summers can feel fleeting, but that just makes us Canadians appreciate those lovely days even more. I try to get outside and play just about every day if the weather is tolerable.
If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you’ve probably noticed that my husband and I are always going on walks or riding bikes. We’ve even taken up tennis although we’re not all that great at it yet, but running after those balls when you have no aim is arguably a better workout than playing with Eugenie Bouchard. Ok, maybe not, but we’re sweating and having a good time doing it. Pick an activity you enjoy doing outside and get moving. Whether it’s walking, jogging, or playing a sport, exercise is a lot less painful when you’re doing something fun.
Down That H2O
I think I may be putting the fish and marine wildlife in danger with the amount of water I consume. I’m kidding, but I drink an incredible amount of the stuff. I don’t measure it, but its practically all I drink other than tea and occasionally (or not so occasionally) wine. You already know that juices, flavourings and pop are absolutely terrible for you and should more so be regarded as a treat than a thirst quencher. If you don’t like plain water, buy yourself a bottle with an infuser and throw in lemon, cucumber or berries. Voila, you’ve made your own natural juice without all the added sugar.
So how do you trick yourself into consuming more H2O goodness ever day? Remind yourself visually by carrying around a water bottle. Bring it to your car, to work, and see how many times you refill it throughout the day. Keep a glass beside you at your desk while you’re working (I’m drinking mine now) and on your bedside table before you go to sleep. If by morning it’s still a full glass, drink the entire thing before adding it to the dishwasher. If your partners’ cup is full too and you don’t fear cooties, down that one as well. When you’re ordering fast food, because we all cave and eat it sometimes (don’t deprive yourself, treat yourself to an indulgence) ask for bottled water as part of your meal. If you don’t drink it right then, stash it in the fridge so it’s cold and ready at a moments notice. These things will become no brainers and daily habits, just make sure there’s a bathroom close by…
Avoid The “Low Fat” Stuff
Sounds confusing right? I shouldn’t choose the “healthier” versions of the foods I already eat? No, you shouldn’t as most of it is just a marketing ploy. These low fat, no sugar, and diet alternatives are actually terrible for you in the long term. They contain all kinds of preservatives and additives in order to make them taste like the original. These are chemicals, manufactured in a laboratory so it’s no surprise that our bodies don’t react well to these unnatural ingredients. Fake sugars and sweeteners like glucose-fructose, dextrose, and corn syrup (which are all actually the same thing) confuse your natural insulin levels as our bodies simply don’t understand how to process them. They’re responsible for the kind of cravings that cause you to stuff your face with an entire bar of chocolate or box of cookies. Basically, they create an imbalance and you become a slave to chemicals. Not to mention, the jury is still out on whether or not these awful additions cause cancer, so better to avoid them.
It’s important to learn what all those crazy scientific words mean on the side of the label so you know what to avoid (do a little reading, or Google it). If reading ingredients might as well be Japanese to you and you gain nothing else from this paragraph, remember to say no to these two: sodium benzoate (an ever popular preservative) and tartrazine (a synthetic dye). Manufacturers are clever and will try to outsmart you by renaming ingredients. Take the time to evaluate and learn about what is going into your body and chances are you’ll opt to purchase the full fat stuff, and just eat a little less of it.
Speaking of reading, I learned about all of this from two books I read years ago, but still keep on the shelf for reference. My favourite book on the topic is called “The Rebel Diet” written by Dr. Melissa Hershberg and there’s also “What to Eat” by Marion Nastle. I am in no way affiliated with these authors or publishers, but I think the content is excellent and will help you navigate those nutrition labels with ease.
Cooking and eating well go hand in hand in my opinion. Once you resolve yourself to start reading labels and becoming familiar with all the added ingredients, it may very well disturb you. Preservatives, colours and all that nasty stuff grosses me out, but it can be tricky to stock your fridge without them. Sure, there are lots of all natural and organic options but it can get pricey pretty quickly if you’re stocking your entire kitchen. Eating well becomes complicated when you can’t find a single salad dressing without tons of supplementary junk. The solution? Make it yourself! Mason jars are great for storing your own BBQ sauce, buffalo sauce or salad dressing. It takes very little time, lasts a while, and usually calls for ingredients you already have around the house.
Also don’t buy all that frozen stuff. I know it’s fast, easy and convenient but it’s stocked with lousy additives. Burgers are easy to make yourself, I make them ahead of time so they’re there in a pinch. Blitz some bread that’s about to go stale, freeze that too and you’ve got instant bread crumbs.
Eat butter, it’s all natural unlike margarine. If you hate struggling to spread refrigerated butter on toast, finely grate it! I keep a container of grated butter in my fridge for instant spread-ability. Lastly, if you really want to look and eat like a cooking pro, get yourself a crock pot. I’m serious, that thing will change your life. You can make entire meals in it and even I can’t overcook the meat. Cooking as many meals as you can from start to finish is one healthy eating habit that will instantly help you live a healthier lifestyle overall.
Hopefully some of my yammering on about being healthy impacts your daily efforts, without too much effort. It’s hard to find time to become a gym-junkie, and frankly sometimes I’m just too lazy! I’ve relied on these habits to get me through those sloth-like days. I believe that being healthy overall and developing good habits for health means more than drinking kale smoothies. Sure, kale is great (I’ve got a few kale recipes in FoodSTRUCK) but healthy living means altering the way you think as well. Appreciate those beautiful days and get out there and play, water bottle in hand, and when you take those stairs back home you’ll be welcomed by the sweet smell of a slow-cooked dinner. Fit, fierce, fabulous! How does she do it? Sooo easily…
“Fit, Fierce, Fabulous” tank top from Winners . I didn’t realize I cut off all the tags! Well, find similar here. This one is pretty cute too.
Leggings by Kyodan Clothing. Similar here.
Nike Shox running shoes. Mine are old, so find similar here.