What started as a friendly fitness competition with $500 prize money on the line, quickly turned into a lifestyle restoration! I didn’t want this to be a painful experience in which I committed to a brutal diet and hours at the gym. I wanted more than just 30 days of nourishing my body, only to then binge eat once it was all over because I felt deprived for weeks. I knew I needed to educate myself on nutrition, test recipes, try new workouts, surround myself with like-minded individuals, set realistic goals, and commit to an 80/20 rule so that I could maintain a balanced lifestyle … long-term!
I don’t believe in going on a diet. I don’t remove carbohydrates or sugar. I don’t push my body to work out seven days a week. I believe in listening to my body, knowing my intolerances, what I have difficulty digesting, and how to transition into eating cleaner so that my body craves a fresh meal vs deep fried. To be clear, I’m not saying I don’t indulge, but I like knowing I can train my brain to think healthy is decadent and no longer crave fast food. So, for the duration of our month-long challenge (which ended up being seven weeks), I committed to working out 4-5 times a week, nourishing my body, and being mindful of my alcohol intake. Surprisingly, that last point turned out to be a lot easier than I anticipated.
Ok, so how did I find my equilibrium and stay in shape? What’s the secret? Below is how I kicked my own ass into healthier body and how I’m two months into living a lifestyle that’s balanced, easy to maintain, and still allows me to indulge:
I FOCUSED ON NUTRITION:
Follow nutritionists and health + wellness influencers on social media: often posting healthy alternative recipes, testing products and giving feedback, and always eager to answer any questions. A resource at the tip of your fingers! (Helpful IG accounts I love: NourishWithJass, Laus_Healthy_Life, TarynsHealthyEats, TorontoBlondie)
Mindful of your body: listen to your body, how it reacts to certain foods, if you have allergies etc. If you continue to consume certain things that your body can’t digest, you eventually cause potential damage to your intestines and organs. Gut health is important and a key link to your metabolism. Even though you might LOVE dairy, if you have a slight intolerance, limit it – sadly.
Consume Smart: incorporate probiotics, collagen, MCT oil, drink kombucha, activated chia with lemon water in the evening (helpful if you feel bloated end of day) etc., to maintain a healthy gut and to nourish your body. Fuel your body with what it needs to digest better, to gain more energy, and to maintain balance. Read your labels and know what you’re putting in your body; and,
80/20 rule: eat clean and balanced meals 80% of the time, while allowing yourself to indulge the other 20%. Finding healthier alternatives to those meals on your treat list is key. For example, I now crave the vegan mac 'n cheese by Greenhouse. You get far more nutritional value from your meal and feel satisfied at the same time – win win!
I FOUND A NEW WORKOUT:
Find a program or studio that has you breaking a serious sweat and excites you: programs created by Kayla Itsines, Fitazfk, ToneItUp, are all great if you can get yourself to the gym. If not, spending money on a pass will encourage you to go more often to make sure you’re getting your monies worth. I would suggest boxing as it’s great cardio and seriously tones your body (I go four times a week - Hi Big Hit Studio);
Know your limit: don’t skip a class because you’re tired or convince yourself your body needs break. Push through those mornings or classes and help your body do so by boosting your energy with pre/post workout fuel. I drink Nespresso with coconut oil and collagen first thing in the morning or I have carbonated water with lemon before a class. Note: IF you are feeling sick, feel pain other than muscle fatigue, that's a clear indication that your body is in need of a much-deserved break. Listen to your body;
TLC: show your body and muscles some love during the week. Head for a hot tub, steam, or foam roll those babies out. It’s key to stretch or throw in a yoga class at least once a week to lengthen those muscles, get the blood flowing, and release lactic acid! Note: by doing this, you are less likely to feel sore and can get through four workouts a week much easier and with more energy. You won’t skip classes and that’s key; and,
Accountability: funny enough but it works, accountability. Posting to social media or talking about your fitness openly keeps you honest. Hold yourself accountable and promote your drive to living a healthier lifestyle. You’ll connect with like-minded individuals who invite you to classes or suggest workout dates. Hello new fitspo friends! But seriously, when others around you know you’re committed to a healthier lifestyle you’d be surprised how supportive and encouraging they can be – I was even stopped from having a mimosa during my second week! Fun sponge … you know who you are (love you)!
I CREATED A PLAN:
Meal prep: grocery shop according to what you’re going to make for the week. Only keep in your fridge what you need for those meals. If you don’t have it on hand you’re less likely to head out to go buy it when you crave it in that moment. Snack idea: wasabi peas, hummus, dark chocolate, and avocado key lime parfaits are always on hand for me because I’ll be less likely to pop down for chips if I know I have these to fall back on.
Schedule workouts: book classes in advance or place your shoes and workout clothes by the door to remind you of your schedule. Set alarms in your phone, write it on a chalk board, or create a buddy system to keep you in check – challenges are helpful too.
Alternatives: know which restaurants or healthy “fast-food” places are near you (and their hours of operation) so that you don’t stress over where or what to eat if you run out of time. Knowing where these places and options are key to staying on track!
What I essentially did was kick my own ass. Period. My body and health was in my own hands. All I needed was a slap in the face and reboot. So, a group of us decided we needed to commit to a competition and have an incentive to help us get through those rough morning workouts. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and my body and mind began to think differently. The workouts became less of a pain and more of a stress releaser. Sugar and processed foods became less desirable. And, most importantly, I witnessed a healthy change in body fat and weight without any drastic measures. Albeit my weight loss wasn’t double digits, I had gained muscle, toned, and lost 2.5% body fat. So, never judge your success based on the scale!
The first week is always tough and results are minimal, but I guarantee you that after a week you’ll feel more energetic and find a greater desire to live a healthier life. At the end of the day it's about finding that sweet spot, the spot where you push yourself but don't over do it, where you eat clean but don't deprive yourself, and where you learn to love yourself in the journey.
Urban Meets Erban
WEARING: Leather Jacket by Mackage for Aritzia, Long Sleeve by Wilfred Aritzia, Leggings by Mondetta (Winners carries this brand), Sneakers by New Balance.