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!
The menstrual cycle controls our mood the whole month and we don’t even realise. The assumption that we cry and eat our feelings through the 7-day bleed (or however long) is not always correct.
Some symptoms may be present for the whole month whether physical or mental however they become more present the week before or the week of.
Mentally the cycle can bring on distress, anxiety, upset and mood swings. I don’t tend to have these signs but a week beforehand I tend to lose motivation and gain self-doubt and low mood. So how do I still manage to get to the gym?
It’s not easy. I’m very organised and stick to a routine. Due to the routine. The thought of sitting at home on my period doesn’t sit well with me. I’d end up feeling fat (due to the bloating) and blah that I let this get the better of me. So I just don’t sit around. I get up and keep life moving.
I’ve come to realise I feel a lot better when I go to the gym and keep active whilst on my period. I feel the need to keep my muscles moving and to take my mind of the situation. The aim is to keep my endorphins at a high in order to keep my well-being at bay. The downfall to going to the gym on my period is having to focus more on what I wear. I usually put on anything and go, but whilst on my period if the black leggings aren’t around I’m not going. If the leggings aren’t thick enough I’m not going. I don’t care whether the panty line is obvious, people in the gym shouldn’t be looking at me anyways but the key whilst on the period is to feel comfortable. This is a reason why a lot of women I know don’t go to the gym during this time however, think about the ways to get around it. My gym has a women-only section so that is my back-up if I begin to feel uncomfortable in general public (sounds like I’m talking about jail). I don’t do heavy weights and I tend to walk instead of run on the treadmill as during the week on period my legs get very weak to the point it looks like I’m shaking to stay standing.
Become adaptable and don’t use your period to sit at home feeling sorry for being a woman and complaining at men have it better than us. Keep it moving!
It is important for us to understand our own beauty within and our own health needs and wants in order to booth body confidence. Body confidence comes from more than what we look like; it’s how we feel and how we carry ourselves.
Weight loss/gain, relationships/friendships, work, virtually anything will lead to us losing our body confidence. It doesn’t help to live in a world with Twitter, Instagram and everyone’s opinion on the internet telling us what we should look like and how we should be living. Black girls are told to hide their natural hair, men are made to hide their feelings; these opinions and elements chip away at our confidence. We don’t want to be seen as vulnerable or make people feel awkward but there’s nothing wrong with rocking an Afro or a man crying. The moment you stop caring about what other people think and begin doing you, you gain part of yourself back. When you suffer from anxiety, depression or any type of mental illness it takes your confidence, whether it takes 9% or 90%. Some people (like I did) stop being social, stop going to the gym; some start comparing themselves to Instagram models, celebrities and what their friends are doing. Others begin to change their attitude, the way they dress or the stop wearing make-up. This is okay because these are tangible elements of us we can always get back.
When I lost my body confidence, I also lost all motivation. In order to gain it back, I had to think more in-depth about the point in which I stopped exercising and became anti-social. Once I touched on the problem, I was able to work out a solution. As a solution I would write down all the things I wanted to do. Whether it’s to try a new look or to get out of the house more and set myself a deadline to do this. If you do this note down how you’re going to do it, who with and what could be considered a barrier and why. Most importantly, try and stick to the plan. Tell a friend or family member so they can support you and give you a little push that is sometimes need.
Other ways to boost confidence is knowing your worth and loving yourself. To do this, you need to take care of your well-being. As mentioned in my first post ‘Anxiety’ fitness & travel have health benefits in terms of changing moods, behaviours and strengthening the mind. Fitness is a big influence. A few months after working out you may feel like a new person. Changing to a healthier lifestyle, again will change your mindset and make you feel like a new person.
Say it into existence. I will go out today. I will dress nicely. I will attend that birthday dinner on Saturday I was going to flake out of. Take a chance in life.
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.