I am by no means an expert or a health and fitness freak, but I do believe in taking care of myself on the inside and out. Nothing annoys me more than hearing girls go on about diets, wanting to be skinny, or wanting to weigh a certain number or obsessing about being a size 0. That was so 2001. By the way; size 0?! Do you want to be invisible?
Nowadays, I'm happy to see that more and more girls are focusing on being healthy, fit and strong instead. I believe that it shouldn't matter what size we are or how much we weigh. The only things that matter are how we feel about ourselves and being healthy. As long as we have respect for our bodies, exercise regularly, try not to gobble up fast food every day, and generally just take care of ourselves, we'll look and feel our best.
I often get asked how I stay in shape. No quick fixes here; I try to make healthy choices, I take note of my daily calorie intake, and I exercise regularly. It's a part of my lifestyle. Now, I'm no angel; I like fast food, chocolate, cake and the list goes on, and I never deprive myself, but I also don't let myself go completely. It's all about moderation.
Over the years, I've tried to incorporate some healthy habits into my daily routine. Things that are easy to do and that benefits my health. I'm not saying that these things that I do will make you look your best, but these are the things that work for me personally, and that fits comfortably into my lifestyle.
1. Drinking lots of water
Surely, I don't have to tell you the benefits of drinking a lot of water? When I wake up in the morning I drink a tall glass of water to get my metabolism going, and when I get to work I fill up my 1-litre water bottle and finish it before the end of the day. When I get home, I make sure to drink at least two or three more glasses before I go to bed.
Luckily for me, I don't really like sodas and sugary drinks. It just makes me feel more thirsty and they are usually so high in empty calories. Water is so refreshing and it's really the only thing that quenches my thirst.
2. Eating more chicken and fish
For some reason, red meat just really doesn't agree with me anymore. Whenever I eat it, I feel awful and my body can't digest it properly. That's why I stick to chicken and fish nowadays. It tastes better to me anyway.
3. Taking a multi vitamin supplement daily
For me, it's not possible to get my daily dose of vitamins and minerals through only my meals. I know that a multi vitamin does not mean that I can cut those out completely, but I'd rather take it than not.
4. Exercising regularly
I know you probably don't want to hear this, but yes, to look and feel your best, you have to exercise. The good news is that you don't have to go to the gym 5 times a week to stay in shape.
I walk a lot, teach active elementary school students, and live on the fourth floor of an apartment building without an elevator, so I already get heaps of exercise during the day without even noticing it. I also do 15 to 20 minutes of exercise at home about six times a week. I know this sounds like a lot, but it's really not. I just put on an episode of my favorite TV show, grab my 3kg weights and do some simple arm exercises, lunges and squats. It really takes no effort at all, and it makes me feel great.
On weekends I try to go to the gym for an hour for a hardcore cardio and weight training workout. Also, The Boyfriend and I recently got bikes, and we've had so much fun going cycling together; a healthy and enjoyable pastime.
5. Laughing a lot
I know this might sound weird, but I think that laughter and humor is good for our health. Well, it definitely works for me anyway. Watching a funny TV show or movie makes me laugh, laughing makes me happy, and when I feel happy I'm more likely to feel in the mood to exercise and take better care of myself.
6. Brushing often
...my teeth, that is. I've always had reasonable dental hygiene. By reasonable, I mean that I used to brush my teeth two or three times a day. But I must confess, I almost never flossed. After I got my braces last year, I knew that I would have to step up my game and make sure my mouth is always clean and minty fresh, so I've adopted some new habits which I'll definitely keep doing even after my braces come off. I now brush my teeth after every meal, even if it's six times a day. I also floss regularly and use mouth wash twice a day.
7. Getting some sun
This has never been a problem for me, as I love being outside, soaking up the rays. It's been more of a challenge for me to not get too much sun. I've gotten myself in the habit of not leaving the house without wearing sunscreen on my face. The easiest way to do that, is to just use a daily moisturizer that already contains a high SPF.
8. Getting enough sleep
I know this is different for everyone, but personally, I feel my best the next day when I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Actually, about 8 hours of sleep is perfect for me. I have to get up at 6am for work, which means I have to go to bed relatively early to get a good night's rest. This is hard for me sometimes because I can easily get sucked into a good book or browsing online.
9. Stimulating my brain
I believe exercising your brain is very important. Just like your body, you have to exercise and challenge your brain to keep it in the best shape possible. I love reading and research. And by research, I mean that I love to "look things up" online. Google and Wikipedia are my friends. I can spend hours looking up random things online, learning about subjects that I've always wondered about. Isn't it amazing how much information we have at our fingertips?
10. Setting small, reachable goals
I can dream and imagine all the things I want to achieve, health and fitness wise, as much as I want, but if I don't set small, specific goals for myself, they usually stay just that; dreams. As much as I love to make lists, I don't write down my fitness and health goals. That would feel too much like a diet to me, and I'd probably feel restricted and more likely to fail.
Instead, I set small, specific goals for myself. I don't tell anyone about it, it's my own personal challenge. For example, on a Sunday evening I'll set a goal for myself to only use stairs where possible the next week, or to not drink any alcohol for a month, or to eat three fruits that day. It's a lot easier reaching small goals on a regular basis, than setting ridiculous, most-likely-to-fail goals for yourself like losing 5kg in a month. Most likely, you won't succeed and you'll feel discouraged. Also, I don't beat myself up when not reaching a goal.
I think the key to being healthy, fit and happy is to stop looking for a quick fix and to incorporate some small, easy health and fitness habits into your daily life. Find what works for you and stick with it. Stop comparing yourself to others, as everyone has different body types, metabolisms, genes, lifestyles and goals. Just be the best version of yourself and take care of your mind and body to the best of your ability.
What easy-to-do health and fitness habits have you incorporated into your daily life?