In this post I have simply outlined some recent developments that have resulted in a healthy, happier (and yes, leaner) me! I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment below and share any tips you feel have helped you on your journey to happiness.
1) Negative mind set equals negative results
So, there is a very common hasthtag which I and all of my fellow #fitnessfreaks use on social media - #healthybodyhealthymind. This is a very strong, and most definitely viable statement. But there is a phrase which I believe to be far more definitive, this is that a healthy MIND equals a healthy body! I will be doing an in-depth post on the negative effects that the fitness world has had on my happiness in the near future, but for now I will stick to more recent progress. Over the Christmas holidays there was a general thought process which everyone adopted - “Ah sure, I’ve had one mince pie, I might as well have ten!” Once January came we all had the good intention of starting afresh, and for some of you I’m sure you did. This year I found it extremely hard to jump back on the health wagon. Each weekend there was always something on and if I ‘cheated’ on the Friday, because of my thought process, I always ended up throwing in the towel and seeing Saturday and Sunday as a total right-off - these predictions turned into self-fulfilling prophecies. This is the typical example of how your thought process not only effects your emotional state but also influences your behaviour. So, instead of having a positive outlook and letting that influence your behaviour you allow cynicism to become a habit. This will always limit your potential. This negative thought process to eating then transforms into a self-loathing and dangerous path and before you know it you have spiralled completely out of control.
These past few months I have struggled to control my extremes of binge and clean eating. No matter how much I tried not to, I kept failing and obsessing over the need for a treat to make me happy. What worked this time was not visualising what I wanted to LOOK like, but how I wanted to FEEL. My mantra was " Love yourself. Don't loathe yourself". It may sound simple or silly, but I began to realise that the only way to feel completely comfortable in my skin was to start by loving myself! So for the past few weeks I have stopped ‘clean-eating’ and obsessing over dieting and I have concentrated on finding happiness from within. Quotes are seriously helpful for the everyday pit falls :)
"Success comes in CANS, not cant's"
2) If we do not stay hydrated, physical performance can suffer.
I am terrible at keeping up my water intake. I have discussed before on my fitness posts how important water is for achieving body goals. I haven't mastered the discipline of keeping on top of it yet, but one thing I have done is make sure I bring a bottle of water to the gym with me. Since starting this, I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and performance during my workouts. I have read that dehydration can lead to reduced motivation, increased fatigue and make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally. Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high intensity exercise. This is not surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water!
3) Stop viewing carbs as the devil!
If you've been reading a variety of the fat-loss diet literature that's available you've very likely come across a technique called 'carb cycling.' Essentially carb cycling is a program where you mix higher carbohydrate days with lower carbohydrate days in the effort to lose weight without suffering some of the negative consequences of a pure low carbohydrate diet plan. Some of these negative side effects include a drop in exercise performance, increased hunger and craving levels, lowered metabolic rate and difficulty focusing and concentrating at work or at school. Although I am not strictly sticking to carb cycling I am definitely enjoying days where I lower my fat intake and refuel with carbs instead (I will always do my best to fit these carbs into my day when I have a high intensity workout planned). I love sweet potato far too much to see it as my enemy. In my eyes, something that you think tastes like heaven AND feeds your body with tons of nutrients can only be good.
4) My Fitness Pal.
This app has been a life saver. Obvious advantages are 1) the app is free 2) tracking calories is proven to improve weight loss and 3) peer based support might help you stay on track. The first few days on MFP can be a bit of a nuisance (weighing out food and scanning bar codes into your daily food journal), but once the app has all your general food saved and you become quite the nifty professional at estimating weights/portions you will whizz around it. I promise! I have found this app to be most helpful in contributing to my positive mind set in recent weeks. Looking back over your day of healthy food and being able to keep track of carbohydrate/fat intakes keeps your mind free from negative thinking while gently steering you in the right direction. On top of that, sometimes you can be surprised at the end of a day when you have room for a few squares of dark chocolate, which for me keeps me encouraged and motivated.
Finally, I’d like to emphasise that accepting how you look NOW is a huge step in your journey to having a #healthymindhealthybody. Forget about judgement and comparisons and concentrate on the everyday joys of healthy food, challenging your body and loving yourself from the inside out .
Remember, you DESERVE to look and feel great. MP x
"In judging our progress as individuals we tend to focus on external factors.... but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one's development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men - qualities within the reach of every soul..." - Nelson Mandela.