It is so hard to live a healthy lifestyle sometimes.
We are surrounded by fast-food restaurants, adverts, people around us with unhealthy lifestyles; making it hard to stay on track.
I’ve tried every diet you can imagine, from fasting to no/low carbs to using supplements for metabolism. With pure determination and a set goal, I have managed pretty well whilst trying these different dieting methods and I’ve lost weight with all but it is hard to keep going and to stay motivated. Temptation is around us constantly. To not come completely off the diet and to not feel as if dieting is a restriction, it is ok to simply have a balanced diet. The no carbs diet was the hardest for me, and I discovered after two weeks it was best to move to low carbs. There were times when I wanted fries with my meal or wanted to add noodles to a stir-fry purely to make a meal more enjoyable. I went from just eating to survive and losing weight to actually, losing weight and enjoying what I was cooking. Because I had added carbs back into my life and went a step further by allowing myself to eat however I wanted whenever I was out for dinner with friends but still remaining healthy during weekdays and at work. That’s my balanced diet and that works for me, my body and my state of mind but I can’t say that will work for everyone. I know I can eat healthy all week long but if I get invited out for cocktails or dinner with friends once or twice a week I don’t want to feel guilty for eating unhealthily, which is why I have given myself wiggle-room.
Keeping active and understanding your lifestyle and what foods work for you is a good start at creating a healthy lifestyle. When I had just started a new job and was going through a busy period I knew my limits and knew activity-wise, I could manage to go to the gym twice a week or on weekends as long as it was morning time. Now that I have settled into my role a few months later, I know can remain going on weekends but once or twice more during the week after work. In addition, due to being used to my work routine I know I can prepare meals for the week on Sunday Afternoons if I am not busy and can afford to wake up slightly earlier to make a cup of tea and have a smoother morning. As I said before all this works for me and I can’t speak for anyone else.
With body image being such a thing in today’s world, a lot of us forget about body positivity. By having a healthy relationship with your lifestyle and finding the balance you should be able to lose weight, gain weight, feel healthier, eat guilt-free, basically do whatever you want!
I decided to try the vegan way of life (in terms of foods) to test how beneficial this lifestyle change could be. Every vegan I know raves about being a vegan but I’m the type of person that has to try things for myself. As said in previous posts I could never go completely meatless however, I don’t need meat in my diet daily.
Prep day I made a weeks’ worth of chickpea curry with the best kitchen assistant…Pinterest. The prep lasted no longer than 15 mins and the same goes for the cooking time. I tend to not cook so much as I don’t enjoy the cleaning process but I actually enjoyed cooking this time and the clean up was very minimal. I made my mum a batch with basmati rice (somewhat of a tester batch)and she loved it so hopefully, this will keep me going during lunchtime at work for the week.
Day 1 On the way out the door for work, I picked up a doughnut and debated whether the V on the label stood for vegan and not just vegetarian. After scanning carefully, I was excited to know that breakfast was sorted. I’m not much of a snack person so I avoided crisps and chocolate but during a mini break at work, I had an orange to keep me going until lunch. Lunch 12.30 pm: was the ultimate chickpea curry but instead of rice, I went for pita bread (yes I checked it was vegan during purchase). 5 pm: Turns out I wasn’t as full as I thought; felt so starved and had a load of chips for early dinner. Day 2 I can feel my energy levels fading. Another day of chickpea curry; I’m not bored of it yet but I know I’m not taking in enough protein and nutrients as I usually would. Due to this my mood today has been pretty hit & miss. I’m happy, tired and stressed all at once. It’s only Day 2, I’m hoping tomorrow will be a lot better. Day 3 I’m feeling more positive, however, today is the last day of chickpea curry…probably a good thing. I’m not tempted by meat which is great however, I don’t like the limitations that come with this dietary option. This definitely isn’t a life change for me. Day 4 I don’t feel hungry as such but my stomach is shouting at me and telling me it doesn’t agree with this diet change. Usually, I avoid snacks but now my body is craving crisps and chocolate. I bought peanut M&M’s today knowing I can’t eat them but I just needed to know they were in my bag. I’m not feeling as weak as I did yesterday but I’m getting tired faster than usual, which is not ideal especially in my line of work. Only 1 day left! Day 5 The end is here! I feel vibrant this morning. Again still tired af but could be worse. I’m proud I have made it through the 5 days; at times I didn’t think I would make it. 5 days doesn’t seem like a long time but when you’re a foodie like me, it feels like a lifetime. I lost weight which I wasn’t expecting and managed to fight the will to snack which made me realise I’m stronger than I thought but vegan just isn’t for me. I’d happily go vegetarian if need be but that’s the most my body will accept. I applaud vegans for having the strength to check ingredients in products and devote time to this lifestyle.
As you can see that chickpea curry only made it to Day 3 but it made me get inventive for the last 2 days. Usually when I get home from work I’m too tired to eat a full meal however, on this diet all I wanted to do when I got home was eat. This isn’t a lifestyle change for me as I just about made it to Day 5 but I think we can all do with a breather from meat/fish based meals at times.
Usually, when we feel like rubbish we are drawn towards rubbish food (all the fats & carbs), like heartbroken Bridget Jones with a tub of ice cream but realistically binging is the last thing we should be doing.
When you’re already feeling down and out fast food and snacking lessens motivation and changes the ‘can do’ attitude to a lazy why bother. From my experience, working constantly and having no time for myself I would grab a microwave meal or foods that were cheap and easy (McDonald’s, Burger King etc) but then I began putting on weight. So by this point, I wasn’t only stressed and negative due to work and other issues, I was then self-conscious, losing confidence and becoming anti-social because I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. This then turned into a cycle hard to break.
There are many studies out there that say junk food is linked to depression. If you think about it, fruit and vegetables provide our brain and immune system with the vitamins and balance we need whereas junk food have chemicals and we don’t necessarily know what’s in them; ingredients being somewhat addictive.
Healthy eating for me and many others I know have made a big lifestyle difference. I am currently trying a 1200 calorie diet for the month, which is not as easy as it sounds. On top of that, the cost of living healthy in comparison to cheap thrills is crazy. I know numerous people who have literally cut the crap, gone vegan and never felt better; glowing in fact. I can never go vegan. It’s really not for me but substituting takeaways and snacks for smoothies, rice cakes, salads etc has lifted my mood and made me feel a lot better within my own body. Foods like avocado, turkey, types of fish are proven to reduce anxiety, stress and depression (all foods I eat). They improve the state of mind, boost energy levels and are said to be positive for chemicals within the brain.
Changing your diet is incredibly hard; I’ve failed many times in the past but challenge yourself to a health swap for a week and see how you get on. If you can change your eating habits at least 2 days a week, you’ll be able to continue with a healthy life no problems.
If it wasn’t for the gym I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t mean physically, I mean mentally and emotionally.
When seeking professional advice I had to create goals to reach within 6 weeks. I didn’t reach any of the goals within this time as I felt due to severe depression and anxiety it was near impossible. However, one of my goals was to get my confidence back and I believed that if I got my body confidence up to a certain level it would improve my confidence overall; therefore my goal was to join the gym and work on my fitness.
I would occasionally go on hikes or work out at home with a YouTube video I could relate to but there was not much consistency. I use to regularly do pilates and go on walks but over the year due to my health that had changed. In 2017 I decided I didn’t want to go to the gym and purely lost weight through healthy eating. Healthy eating is beneficial, refreshing and from evidence, I could say it helped mentally. Getting rid of a heavy carb based diet helped with mood swings. I also found adding vegetarian meals to my diet (especially during work lunchtimes) made me feel less grumpy and have more energy to get through the day.
Since joining the gym in 2018 (several months after therapy) everything changed. Being at the gym takes the mind off negativity. At the gym, being focused on exercise gives us time to think about ourselves; its an escape. We use this time to talk to ourselves, thinking about what we would be like if we worked more on our fitness, questioning why we didn’t join sooner.
On top of that, exercise changes moods and is an ideal start for tackling anxiety, depression and stress. Not only that but, research shows it improves self-esteem, confidence and motivation. Truth is in the pudding!
Since being more active I’ve been more social, confident and selfish, which in terms of your mental health is not a bad thing at all!
Get on board the smoothie trend. This is a really refreshing detox, helps with weight loss and its been known ingredients such as Avocado, Blueberries Ginger and Almonds reduce anxiety and stress.
Join a gym or fitness group.
Try a new activity you’ve never done before and take a friend. I recently tried Pole Dancing 2 weeks ago and loved it (as shown on Instagram; definitely something I would continue with.
Lay of the snacks and fast foods; research shows this has negative impacts on mental health and moods.
Get a buddy. Have someone close to you who is willing to give you that extra push when you feel like giving up or lacking in motivation. In addition, click Let’s Talk.