I have come to realize that being healthy does not mean shoving greens down your throat, not eating bread or chocolate, and never drinking a sip of alcohol. In high school and college, I would go through these random spurts where I would work out furiously every day for a week or two, only eat salads, and have small dinners. After a short period of time, I would eventually get tired of doing the same stupid 90’s style aerobic cardio workout, (Anyone do “The Firm?” workout from the early 90’s?) eating the same bland salad, and I would be starving hungry and grumpy! (HANGRY if you will!)
Toward the end of college and after I graduated, I began to realize what being healthy really was for me…. a lifestyle! A series of everyday choices that involve balance, give and take. These days, I cook 90% of what I eat and go out or order out 10% or less. I make healthy, colorful dinners that are both filling and delicious.(Tune in every Friday for a new recipe!)
Rather than obsessing on the exact calories I’m putting in to my body, I switched my mindset to looking toward portion and ingredients. Once I did that switch, I lost weight, felt happier and healthier, and enjoyed working out more. And guess what? Most days I have at least 1 piece of dark chocolate or some kind of sweet! I don’t feel bad about indulging in a dessert when I’m out at a restaurant or out at a party, because that’s life! There will be parties, take out because you don’t feel like cooking, and Christmas cookies galore! I do my best to eat as healthy as I can most of the time and allow life to run it’s course and I enjoy it!
I’m not perfect! Sometimes I end up eating poorly after a stressful day or a day where I didn’t have time to grab as healthy of an option as I could have. I have learned not to beat myself up for these moments. I get right back in to my good eating and exercise as quickly as I can and I don’t dwell on the bad food choices that I already made. It takes time and practice to get used to eating healthy, but it can be done! Here are some tips that I try to follow:
- Health-ify your splurges! For example, I often crave french fries. If I decide that I’m going to splurge on them with my lunch, I will pair them with a salad instead of a burger. BALANCE!
- Eat healthy 80-90% of the time shooting for portion control and ingredients rather than obsessing over calories. I often think of the “Eat the Rainbow” tip that we’ve all heard a million times!
- Make sure you’re drinking enough water! I have found that on days when I don’t drink enough water, I’m extra hungry and I snack unnecessarily. Not a plain water fan? Spice it up with some lemon or grab a seltzer water. They come in tons of flavors! I fill up my big Nalgene bottle and take it with me everywhere so I’m always drinking!
- Stay active! I work out 6 days a week. I usually do 4-5 more intense HIIT cardio & strength training workouts and then 1-2 days of Pilates, Yoga, or stretching depending on how sore I am. Staying active makes me more in tune with my body, improves my mood, and keeps me in shape! I always make better food choices when I’m working out daily.
- Don’t forget to indulge! I’m not saying you should be eating a chocolate lava cake every night (oh, how I wish that were acceptable!) but when you do indulge, enjoy it! Make an intentional choice of what to eat, enjoy it, and don’t beat yourself up over enjoying it! Life is a balancing act!
So as we head in to Thanksgiving, I hope that you will be mindful of what you are putting in to your body while at the same time enjoying the feasts that you or your loved ones prepared. I will be posting a healthy Post-Thanksgiving recipe for you this Friday, so tune in! I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
How do you enjoy life’s indulgences and still stay healthy?
Let me know in the comments below!