Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about eating healthy and exercising – it’s about creating a healthy mind and body. It’s not about restriction or a strict routine, it’s all about balance. There have been points in my life that where negligence has caused stress, poor health and the inability to cope with the demands of my daily life. It’s a terrible place to be and often so hard to crawl out of.
The hardest part about creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself is starting. It can be overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It all begins with small changes.
These changes are the building blocks of your lifestyle – starting your day with a healthy breakfast, going to sleep an hour earlier to wake up half an hour earlier to workout, choosing fruit over chocolate at lunch but enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the day, or walking an extra mile after work. These are the things that make a difference, and that cultivate a healthy and happy life.
If you’re struggling with stress, weight gain, or a lack of motivation, I hope this post will help you in some way. There’s going to be a bigger focus on wellness here on Sunday Chapter, to help you guys start living the healthiest & happiest life possible. I’m so excited to share this post as one of the first in the series!
A nutritious start
I’m a firm believer that your morning sets the tone of your day. If it begins in a panic or rushed haze, then it’s hard to snap out of it and for me, it will only ever lead to negative thoughts throughout the day. I am by no means a morning person, but breakfast still happens to be my favourite meal of the day. The thought of coffee and food is literally what gets me out of bed. Your breakfast should be nourishing and filling, something that leaves you energized and ready to tackle the days challenges.
Sometimes I’ll opt for eggs with avocado or a smoothie bowl, but since it’s still Winter, I’ve been loving oatmeal. Oats are one thing I barely manage a day without, whether it be in the form of oatmeal or these muffins, they’re a staple in my diet. I’ve previously shared a recipe for my favourite banana bread overnight oats, but sometimes you just want a big bowl of steaming hot oatmeal, you know?
My favourite kind of oatmeal is banana and blueberry with a twist. When you’re cooking the oatmeal, chop and add in the bananas in the last five minutes of it still cooking. It gives it the most incredible taste and I promise you wont need any sweetener! I’ve left the recipe below if you guys want to give it a try.
40g rolled or steel cut oats
handful of frozen blueberries
1 small banana
1/3 cup vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup of water
Add the oats with water in a small saucepan. Heat on medium for about 5 minutes and then start adding in the milk. I usually don’t measure how much milk I put in, I estimate by the consistency of the oats. Sometimes I’ll add in 1/2 cup if I’m feeling it creamier that day.
Cook for another 3-4 minutes, then slice the banana and add it in. By this point, I usually add a splash of more milk and cook for up to 5 more minutes.
Sprinkle some cinnamon, frozen blueberries, chia seeds and any other toppings you prefer (I also love chocolate or vanilla protein powder!) and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee!
Incorporate fitness into your everyday routine
My relationship with fitness hasn’t always been the best. Working out is still not something I particularly look forward to, but I know it’s something I HAVE to include in my routine. It’s almost like brushing my teeth – I feel guilty if I don’t do it. It’s a habit now. I aim to workout 5-6 days a week, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.
After putting it off for SO long, joining a gym was the best thing I ever did. I would encourage everyone to do the same and take advantage of what they have to offer too, including classes, swimming, PT sessions, nutritionists, etc. These things help your mental health as much as your physical health. The more active I am, the happier I feel.
I also understand the gym may not be for everyone. Choosing the right activity for you is important because if you keep pushing yourself to do something you hate, chances are you’ll burn out. Perhaps running outdoors is more suited to you, or something more chilled like Pilates, or body-weight training, boxing, etc. Explore your options! In the end, you only have something to gain.
Besides setting aside time each day to workout, there’s other small changes you can do to be fitter. Get off the bus a stop earlier to walk, take the stairs instead of the lift, park further away, or get up 5 minutes earlier to fit in a quick workout. Don’t underestimate the importance of these small things. These things all add up in the end!
You might’ve noticed me say many times in previous posts that “you are what you surround yourself with” because it’s something I truly believe in. If you’re surrounded by negativity and people with closed minds then that is what you’re going to reflect. Of course this doesn’t apply for only people, positive surroundings are found in the form of everything. Those small things that make up your day, like fresh flowers sitting at your desk, a perfect cup of coffee, finding jeans that fit seamlessly, or framing some positive affirmations, are all things that attribute to your positive mindset. The environment is powerful in shaping our behavior. What kind of positivity do you surround yourself with?
Healthier eating habits
A healthy lifestyle is all about balance. I like to think of it as champagne in one hand, and a green juice in the other. It’s a balancing act. I follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating because a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about sticking to clean foods all the time, it’s also about allowing time to let yourself indulge. With the 80/20 rule, I eat clean 80% of the time, and let go a little for the other 20%. If you ate crap 100% of the time, you would feel like crap, and if you ate clean 100% of the time, what a bore that would be.
You can still live a healthy lifestyle and diet by eating chocolate and ice cream, as long as it’s all in moderation. Moderation is key.
If you’re just starting to get into healthy eating, I would suggest writing down everything you eat and trying to meal prep where possible. Meal prepping isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but it’s still something I try to do during the week. If you guys would like to see some of my meal plans or what I eat in a day, let me know in the comments!
A few tips that also might help healthy eating habits:
• Fill your kitchen with healthy food and don’t shop on an empty stomach
• Use an app to track your diet/progress (I LOVE MyFitnessPal)
• Use a scale to weigh your food (this has helped me tremendously – It helped me learn about correct portion sizes)
• Invest in some healthy cookbooks
• Never, ever skip breakfast
• Sit down to eat
• Try to include a side of vegetables with lunch and dinner
• Carry protein-rich snacks with you to avoid buying unhealthy/vending machine snacks
• Don’t forget to drink 2-3 litres of water a day
• Do healthy food swaps (eg whole wheat > white bread, brown pasta > white pasta, lemon & olive oil > store-bought dressing)
• Drink more tea! Peppermint and Green tea are great for your metabolism and appetite
I am a complete different person when I’m running on less than 7 hours sleep. I just don’t function. I am to get around 8-9 hours a night as sleep plays the biggest role in both your physical and mental health. Did you know ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stress, kidney disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke?! Another fun fact: Even if you eat the exact same diet as your friend, if you’re not getting the sleep your body needs, you won’t drop as much fat as them.
Sleep is like the glue that holds your life together.
Sleep controls your diet, your mood, your productivity and pretty much your overall day. You should be working with your body clock by falling asleep and waking up at the same time everyday. If you have trouble sleeping, I would encourage you to do some research into why that is. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my sleeping pattern in the past and attributed it to a crap diet and not enough exercise. Lack of sleep makes you crave bad food (usually sugar or carbs) and sabotages your motivation to workout, which then causes a difficulty in falling asleep. It’s really just a downward spiral.
Do you try to live a healthy lifestyle? I’d love to hear any feedback or questions you guys might have!