What is that yellow thing in the sky?! OH, SUN, IS THAT YOU???? It’s been too long! Now that summer is actually right around the corner, I’m sure most of you are in a rut to get you beach bods ready. With that, I’m sure a myriad of you are looking for shortcuts. But I’m here to tell you if you’re not healthy, you’re wasting your time.
Fads are fads for a reason. They come and they go, just like the results. Three-day smoothie/juice cleanses, lemon water “detox”, etc- you name it, I’ve probably tried it, or some variation of it. I’m also against them all, as I gained all my water weight back and then some after I took a single bite of whole food ☹ After 5+ years of trying new things and trying to become the HEALTHIEST (not just fittest) version of myself, I am happy to share with you the top 5 healthy habits that I’ve adopted that have changed my life for the better.
1.Wake up early
I am by NO means a morning person, never been. If my memory serves me right, my mom actually ripped my ankles from my bed while I held onto the bars of the bed post… at like 1:30 PM. I’ll admit, this wasn’t my proudest moment. When I started my full-time career, I knew I needed to make changes if I wanted to get my workouts and meal prepping in. Going to the gym after working a full 8+ hour day is never fun. I’ve begun waking up 1.5 hours earlier than I normally would just to squeeze in my workout before the chaos of the day. It’s been both physically and mentally rewarding. Set your gym clothes, water, and gym bag the night before. That way you just have to wake up, change and go.
It’s not easy, so sometimes I need external rewards. I’ll bake myself a batch of Paleo muffins that I allow myself to eat as a pre-workout morning snack. Another great perk is rewarding yourself with a delicious and wholesome breakfast when you get back from your sweat sesh! As one of my favorite fitspos once said to me, “Sometimes motivation won’t be there. That is when your dedication has to kick in.”
2. Drink a LOT of water
And I mean, A LOT. You would be surprised to find out how often you mindlessly snack (usually on unhealthy foods). Our bodies have a tendency to confuse hunger and thirst. If you just ate and feel the compulsion to snack on something that isn’t so healthy, try drinking a bottle of water and see if that feeling is still there. If it is, then opt for a healthy snack like raw nuts, a piece of dark chocolate, a clean ingredient energy or protein bar, fruit, or veggies with hummus. Aim to drink between 50% and 100% of your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink AT LEAST 65 ounces, and aim for 130 ounces (especially if you are active). This has made a world of a difference to me and the way I feel daily.
3. Adopt a clean eating LIFESTYLE, not a short-term diet fad
I am SO guilty of this, especially in the past. It’s natural to lose patience and aim for the quick fix NOW. You have a wedding in 3 days and still want your tummy to look flatter, so you try the 3-Day juice cleanse. Your vacation is in a month so you stop eating carbs completely to slim down for selfies. I GET IT. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t. These quick fix diet fads are essentially just a shock to your body and it goes into hunger mode. When in hunger mode, your body stores pretty much every food you put into your body as fat to save itself. Doesn’t sound too healthy after all, does it?
I know far too many people who have done extreme diets and who now struggle to lose an ounce of weight due to metabolic damage. The only way to be healthy and fit for the long-term is to make it a sustainable lifestyle change, not just a 3 day, or 6 week challenge for one single event or season. So, yes, that means you probably shouldn’t have waited until a week before summer to “slim down”. The saying, “Summer bods are made in the winter” holds pretty true.
While tracking your macros probably won’t be sustainable for a long time (IT’S SO ANNOYING!!!), it might be helpful to get you started and help you become familiar with portions. Give it shot for a couple of weeks and then just eat intuitively (I know, CRAZY, right??? Does anyone on Instagram just eat when they’re hungry anymore?). Eat whole foods like chicken, meats, turkey, fish, fruits, veggies, raw nuts, healthy fats, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. You’ll be golden. Just as long as you don’t snack on Snickers in between.
I know it probably sounds redundant but you would be amazed by how many people think that walking for 20 minutes on the treadmill will cut it. It doesn’t. Your workout doesn’t need to last an hour and a half to be effective. I have plenty of 30-minute workouts that are extremely intense and effective. Try to workout between three and five times a week and incorporate weight lifting into your routine.
Lifting weights is KEY to getting the beach bod you want. While abs are made in the kitchen, your booty is made in the gym. Don’t shy away from lifting. It won’t make you MANLY and BULKY. Men who want to look manly and bulky even struggle to look manly bulky! There is no such thing as TONING. You need to tear your muscle so it rebuilds and grows. Lifting light weight for a million reps is just going to do that SLOWER. So lift a little heavier for 10-12 reps, get your butt on the stairmaster, eat clean, and VOILA!
5. Treat your damn self
First of all – who dubbed eating something you crave as a “cheat” anyway? It is a TREAT, not a CHEAT and calling it the latter is the reason for so many eating disorders. Just like you won’t get your dream body overnight, you won’t lose your progress overnight either by eating an ice cream cone. The motto is 80/20 for the ratio between eating wholesome foods and treating yourself. Everyone is different and everyone will crave different things. The key for all of us is to treat in moderation, not binge eat an entire case of Oreos in one sitting (GUILTY.)
If I can, I’ve started planning my treats. That way, when I am eating healthy during the week, I don’t feel deprived and I know the treat I’ve been DYING for is right around the corner. If I know I am going out to dinner with my boyfriend, I will scope the menu and choose some foods I’m craving. If I have an ice cream date planned, that gets me through the week. That isn’t to say I don’t eat “unhealthy” foods when I randomly crave them, but during the week I try to go with healthier alternatives over the things I crave. Superfood paleo chocolate is a staple. Enlightened ice cream pints are also a staple. If you haven’t tried them yet, you need to try Red Velvet or Chocolate brownie & cookie dough. YOU’RE WELCOME. Lara bars taste like such a treat, but they are made with whole food ingredients. Terra’s plantain chips made with coconut oil are another one of my fav snacks, or I will fry my own plantains in coconut oil.
WELP, these are the keys to my success so far- if I can even call it that! It’s important to realize that health is not just physical, but mental too. If you’re going insane trying to reach your goals, binge eating every weekend, feeling guilty and working out for an extra 2 hours to make up for the cookie you ate, you are not HEALTHY. If you read my last post about fitness trends, you know I put the blame on social media. I’ve been there & I’ve done that. I’m not perfect and I struggle every day to find a happy and healthy balance for my own personal goals and lifestyle. Everyone has cellulite and stretch marks and visible veins. No one is perfect and everyone struggles to be. Just make healthy habits a part of your daily routine and you immediately reap the benefits. One step at a time, one day at a time. Having a nice beach bod is cool and all, but I think loving yourself no matter what is pretty freakin’ amazing.