To you, what is a healthy lifestyle? Is it eating foods that say Fat Free, Sugar Free, or Guilt Free? Is it working out a few times a week, eating healthy 5 days and having two cheat days? Is it counting calories, macros, experimenting with paleo, weight watchers, or other popular diets that you have seen work for other people? Is it working out hard as much as you can so you can enjoy the dinner out with friends, or dessert after dinner? Is it taking a pilates class, soul cycle or other fad based class after work? The reality is, there are so many “versions” of living a “healthy lifestyle”, and to be honest, my own definition has changed at least 10x in the last 15 years.
To name a few, in high school, I thought it was working out a few times a week, or participating in sports. In college, I thought it was working out as hard as I could during the week, limiting my calories, and saving myself for the binge weekend to come, then repeating the cycle over and over. Neither of those things worked, and as I dove more into the fitness realm as a career path, I started to shift my thinking, and thought that to have the “cosmetic” body I had always dreamed of, I needed to be extreme. Heavy lifting, intense cardio, double days, “keto” or other forms of diets took over. I began working in a professional athlete fitness and nutrition facility, which took my obsession to be “perfect” into overdrive. I dated an athletic trainer that reminded me having a glass of wine would ruin my entire weeks progress (NOT TRUE, btw), and that I didn’t need that piece of toast with my eggs. I had a boss that told me I was ingesting too many carbs, as I was eating a banana for breakfast. I did anything and everything possible in attempt to achieve a “good enough” body to represent that company. I became way too hard on myself, and frankly obsessed with that one or two pounds that would come back and go away in just a few days. One day, the pressure was just too much, I decided living a fitness lifestyle was too exhausting, and mentally crippling, and I needed to get out.
I started seeking opportunities to work in law enforcement, my second passion. I had a bachelors of science in criminal justice that was going unused. I figured helping people would bring me back to a place I could have it all. I got a job as a 911 dispatcher, moved back to California, and left fitness in the rear view. I started working crazy hours, one night shift here, one day shift there, my sleeping and eating schedule flip flopped so many times my metabolism couldn’t catch up. I kept up with the workouts as I could, but my body felt more “out of whack” then ever.
Throughout the years, one thing never did change, my love for fitness and eagerness to share it with others. It seemed as if I couldn’t make up my mind. I loved dispatching, but didn’t love how it made my body feel, I loved fitness, but didn’t know how to find the healthy “balance”.
I decided to take a job as a General Manager at a local gym, and was lucky enough to continue dispatching per diem, as I didn’t want to completely give that up. I learned so much, connected with so many great people, became official and earned my NASM personal trainer certificate and have met some of the most genuine lifelong friends along the way, with both the police department and the gym. I connected with Cate, who had been with the gym before me, and came very well recommended in the training department. I knew how to work out, but need the accountability, and having someone think about my program other than myself, helped mentally. It brought me back to the love of the lifestyle again. Cate taught me to love my body no matter what, that obsessing does nothing, and that its all about rest, balance and self love. I prepped for the best day of my life, my wedding day, with the help of her, the trainers and professionals at the gym, and learned to “listen to my body” . I saw more progress than I ever have before, because of the people I surrounded myself with, the self care, and the genuine approach to finding a long term lifestyle that works for me.
For me, my balance is fueling my body with foods that make me feel good and living my life happy, guilt free and active. More veggies, home cooked meals with my husband, limiting meat and a good relationship with my workouts. Collaborating with other trainers, setting healthy goals, and also knowing when to let go and have that glass of wine, dessert, or a night out with the girls at my favorite Mexican resturaunt. Its sharing my experience, knowledge and habits with my clients, friends and family. Its prioritizing my workouts, listening to my body when I need a “rest day” and not beating myself up for gaining a few during the holidays. The key to SUCCESS is doing what works for you, because everyone is different.
These are the top 5 tips I have learned over the years that have helped me structure a lifestyle I can live long term:
- Make time for YOU – No matter how busy you are, or how early you have to get up, set aside one hour to get that workout in at least 3x a week. The endorphins from a good sweat and the cortisol release alone set you up for a good day. If you cant make it to the gym or to a class, take a walk, listen to a podcast, journal, or read. It doesn’t have to be hard, just embrace being in your own space.
- Find an alternative to dessert. I’m a major sweet tooth, but have learned to limit myself. Instead of that cookie after dinner, Ill go for a rice cake with honey, tea with stevia, or a glass of homemade lemonade.
- If you know your going to drink alcohol that day/night, switch out the starchy carbs to more veggies. Alcohol has carbs, and major sugar, help the body out by fueling it with some good food before you indulge.
- Avoid OVERTRAINING. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If its your third, fourth or fifth day in a row, and your dragging your butt to the gym because you ate that dessert last night, do yourself a favor and stay home. You can actually reverse the affects of those 5 good workouts you got in by putting the unwanted added stress to your muscles. If its that time of the month, and you are forcing a workout, go home, your doing your hormones a favor! Hit it hard when It passes, just make sure you don’t eat your life away in chocolate. When I started taking rest days (against my will, thanks Cate), and listening to my body, I broke a major plataeu.
- Plan ahead. Bring your lunch to work, always have a healthy snack nearby (nuts, a bar, fruit). This will help you avoid getting to a place of severe hunger if you get too busy. Your body starts to crave ALL of the bad stuff when this happens, its a recipe for disaster, TRUST ME lol.
Hope you find some of this helpful! Whats your healthy balance? Any tips you can give me and our community,?