2 Jun 2013

Tips on keeping up a healthy lifestyle

Hi guys! Today I wanted to share some tips with you on how to keep up a healthy lifestyle. This can be tricky, especially in the beginning of changing your life to the better. And that’s why I thought I’d share something that has worked for me. 

My journey to a healthier life didn’t only include food and exercise, but the entire wellbeing of everything that is me; body, mind and soul. To be successful in chaining your life I think it’s important to include everything, to sit down and really think about your life and consider which parts you’re unhappy with and how you would like them to be.

In my case, I was feeling really down and depressed, and it affected what I ate and how I treated my body. I had to be brutally honest with myself and examine what was going on inside me, and what I was doing wrong. If you can’t be 100% honest with yourself the chances are that you will hide away something you’re not proud of, and that problem will remain unsolved. This might affect your improvement on the other aspects of your life that you want to change, depending on what they are of course. But I would recommend being completely honest with yourself, put pen to paper and write down the things you are unhappy about and how you would want them to be. For example, you might be unhappy with how you look, and your goal is to feel comfortable dressed in a bikini while you’re at the beach. Or, maybe you are uncomfortable talking in front of a large group of people, and you want to be able to do that without feeling like you are going to through up. Whatever problems you might have, the key to solving them is admitting them to yourself and setting a clear goal of how you want it to be.

When you have done this, it’s time to take action. My lifestyle change mostly involved how I treated my body, but I also wanted to improve my self esteem. Starting to eat healthy and exercise can be a huge change if you’re not used to it, and it can be really hard to stay motivated. Cravings can cause you to want to give up, but did you know that it only takes the body two weeks to get rid of cravings? I didn’t believe this when I first heard it, but having gone through it myself I can now say that it is actually true. I wrote more about this in my post '
Steps towards a healthier lifestyle' and 'My Story', which I recommend you to read if you haven’t already.  But after only sticking to eating healthy for a short period of time I noticed a huge change. I still craved certain things, but when I had them they did not taste the same as I remembered. Everything was overly sweet and made my stomach feel really weird. My body was rejecting the things it used to not be able to get enough of. Your body really gets smarter when you feed it the right things. So if you just force yourself to stick to a healthy diet (by the way, I hate the word diet but in lack of a good synonym I still use it) it will get much easier after that. The same goes with exercise, if you get your body used to it, you will be sure to notice that it reacts if it doesn’t get the exercise it is used to.

Now, to the tip. What I do help me stay motivated and on the right path when it comes to food and exercise is that I keep a lifestyle journal. In this journal I write down everything I eat during the day, along with my exercise. I usually eat 5 times a day; breakfast, lunch dinner and two snacks. Snacking is actually good for you, if you snack smartly. By eating less but more frequently you will keep your blood sugar level intact and you won’t have as much cravings. My food journal will usually look something like this:

Breakfast: A hardboiled egg, honeydew melon, grapes, strawberries,
Lunch: Chicken, coleslaw, salad,
Dinner: 2 quesadillas, salad,
Other: Banana, nuts, juice,
Water: About 2 liters.

I usually eat eggs, fruit or oatmeal for breakfast, but sometimes I have bread or yoghurt. Between breakfast and lunch I usually snack on a banana and a handful of nuts, mostly almonds, and for lunch I have the same thing as I ate for dinner the night before. Between lunch and dinner I usually have a juice, and not a store bought one, but one that I have made myself. And then I have dinner around 6 o’clock to half pas 6. I try to eat healthy during the week and then treat myself to some unhealthier foods or snacks during the weekend. This is what works for me, but you have to figure out what will work for you. 
I also write down how much water I drink. I am really bad at drinking water and I am trying to get myself used to drinking more. It is great for your body as well as for your skin, so by writing down the amounts of water I drink every day I hope to improve my water intake.

By keeping a food journal you get 100% knowledge of everything you feed your body. This might open your eyes and show you that you actually eat more bad things that you thought, but it will also work as a reminder of how good you have been on the days where you feel like giving up. Keeping a food journal will give you an overview of what you feed your body, and it will help you keep your food intake in check. 

Underneath my food journal I write up my exercise. Some days I don’t write anything, because I don’t work out every single day. Your body needs time to rest, so a few days of rest during the week is nothing bad. If I have been to the University my exercise journal might look like this:

2 workout videos (abs + legs), 1 hour walk.

I write both my workouts and when I walk back and forth to the University, because walking/biking is also exercise. Keeping an exercise journal will help you get an overview on when and how you work your body, and it will keep you motivated not to only have empty days in your journal.

The last thing I do, which is more related to mental health than physical, is that I write what the Swedish self esteem guru Mia Törnblom refers to the ‘feel good’ book. This is a simple exercise to improve your self esteem, but I think it is something that can do us all some good even if you feel like you have a satisfactory self esteem. This exercise is to write down 3 things that you have done during the day that have been good. For example it can be: “It was good that I resisted that chocolate bar” or, if you’ve had a really bad day; “It was good that I didn’t scream at my boyfriend for forgetting to buy more milk”. This might seem silly to some people, but some days it can be really hard to find 3 things that you have done during the day that have been good.

The next step is to write 3 things that you are grateful for. An example could be: “I am grateful for my friends who helped me move”, or on a bad day “I’m grateful that this day is over so I can go to bed”. Writing down things that you are grateful for can give you a bit of insight into your own well being, as well as make you think about things that you namely take for granted. For example, I usually write “I am grateful that I live in a country without war”. This is something you might normally forget, but it doesn’t mean it still isn’t important.

The last step is to write 3 things that you need help with. You can start these sentences either with “Help me to…” or “I need to…”. An example can be: “Help me to get over my fear of public speaking.” Or, “I need to stop eating sugar every day”. Admitting to yourself the things you need help with is a great way to personal growth, and you will learn things about yourself that you maybe didn’t before.

As I said earlier, these three steps can some days be really easy, and other days be really hard. But I recommend that you try this out if you are going through a big life change. It might just work for you as well.

So, in conclusion. To go through a lifestyle change can be hard, but if you admit to yourself what parts of your life you want to change and how you want them to be, it will be much easier to handle. By keeping a lifestyle journal where you write down everything you eat in a day and the exercise you get you will have a great overview of your life and how you treat your body. This will open up your eyes and bring motivation. It’s much harder to cheat when you have the evidence of your accomplishments in black and white in front of you. And, if you want to, write down 3 good things you did during the day, along with 3 things that you are grateful for and 3 things you will need help with. This will give you a greater understanding of yourself and might just help you along the way.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and that you find these tips helpful. This is what works for me, and that’s why I wanted to share it with you guys. I hope that this might help some of you who are finding it hard to adapt to a new lifestyle, or that you can find this useful in some way. I know that everyone is different, and this might not be anything that will work for you or that you would be interested in, but since it has helped me I thought it was worth sharing. Talk to you later! 

xo, Sanna

+ Health and Exercise


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