7 Lessons I Picked Up On The Journey To Taking Care Of My Health
We all struggle with what it means to be healthy and fit. We spend most of our time looking at other ideals, and it’s just not realistic.
One minute, we’re berating ourselves for not being tall or lithe enough to rock that couture from NYFW. The next, we’re wondering why we don’t have Ronda Rousey’s strong figure and banging glutes. At any given moment, we’re criticizing our bodies for not being 40 different things.
Today, as we acknowledge women’s health and fitness, really ask yourself what that means for you. To me, health and fitness means my mental, physical and emotional well-being. It’s a process.
But I’m no fitspo-er. I’m just a do-er.
Like most kids, I grew up without any real knowledge of nutrition or rehabilitation post-workout. I would eat a bag of Hot Cheetos for lunch (thank you, LAUSD, for caring about our nutrition) and still compete in high school tennis. I just ate whatever was available when I was hungry, and competitive sports miraculously kept me in shape.
Just like the age-old tale, when college rolled around, my habits got worse: chicken nuggets, tacos, booze and cigarettes. Depending on how broke I was, I ate what was available.
Throw in a major psychological breakdown at 21, and I was down to almost a pack of cigarettes a day, along with lots of coffee. Through therapy, I began to truly understand the importance of the "holy trinity" of health: eating well, working out and sleeping enough.
Sounds like a reasonable list to accomplish. But, if you've truly committed to this life, you have to let go of things that no longer serve you.
While I won’t go into extensive detail about that journey, I will let you know what I’ve picked up over the past five years:
1. Don't diet.
Diets are polarizing approaches to fitness that set you up for inconsistent results, without really addressing the whole issue.
It’s not just the food that needs changing; it’s your habits. I have changed my eating habits over time, to the extent that now, my body likes and craves whole foods as opposed to processed foods.
I used to eat fast food at least three times a week. These days, the only fast food I get is a highly customized In-N-Out Burger (which tastes delicious) and the occasional cheat meal.
My body simply doesn’t like how it feels when I eat processed food.
2. Know your macronutrients.
Macros are proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
I suggest you read up on them and get a starting point; weigh yourself and get your body fat percentage. From there, you can use this nifty calculator which can tell you, based on your height, weight and activity level, how much protein, carbs and fats you should be eating a day to reach your goals.
The cool part is, you are empowering yourself to make good, nutritional choices. You get to decide if you want that cheeseburger, but you’ll understand the value of a calorie and what you’re really getting out of what you eat.
Do you really feel fulfilled by what you’re eating? Do you feel better? Are you still hungry?
There are a number of food tracking apps out there, but I use FatSecret. A very good friend of mine created a macro-tracking site that plugs into FatSecret, so you can check your eating progress throughout the day as well.
3. Put the scale away.
I haven’t weighed myself in years, except when I started tracking my macro calculations. The only time I know my weight is at the doctor’s office. Scales are bullsh*t and not indicative of your value.
I go by body fat percentage, how I feel and how I perform my workouts.
I notice I get a little hard on myself after I get weighed. I’m 155 pounds, and I can deadlift and squat over 200 pounds. My body serves a purpose. But, sometimes, I knock myself down over something as silly as a scale.
Don’t do this to yourself. Just focus on feeding your body with whole foods and focus on your physical performance. The rest will take care of itself.
4. Keep it real.
Stop trying to fit yourself into a past version of your body.
Being a woman is a privilege. They don’t put a woman in a girl’s body, so stop killing yourself for not having a girl’s body. You have curves and hips now.
Focus on how you want to carry those gifts.
5. Find the exercise that works for you.
Finding an exercise routine can take a lot of trial and error, but that’s okay. It took me at least two years to find a workout program that worked for me.
I lucked out when I fell in love with weightlifting. I did the whole Insanity series back in 2013 and loved the results, but noticed I was treating it like another diet/exercise plan. I wanted something habitual and longer-lasting.
Knowing myself, I stick with things that require me to develop skills. So, I learned how to lift weights and haven’t looked back. I’ve had setbacks: overtraining, lack of results and poor performances from lack of nutrition.
But each day, I get closer to my ideal balance.
These days, I lift three times a week, and then mix in yoga and the Insanity videos for cardio. I’m a nut, but I feel good when I work out.
6. Love the body you have.
Genetics are a big factor, so learn to love your body. This isn’t just a Dove commercial, this is you. This is your life.
Would you ever tell one of your friends he/she isn’t worth sh*t because of some cellulite? I didn’t think so. So stop being such a jerk to yourself. Worship your body. Love it for what it naturally has. Your body is unique and you are sexy.
Any man would be lucky as hell to see you naked, so don’t you ever forget it.
7. Embrace the journey.
Lastly, understand your health and well-being is a lifelong journey. It is one of the most vital relationships we can ever have with ourselves.
We can only do so much without taking care of ourselves. This is a practice in self-love and self-worth, which is far more important than any weighing scale, man or outfit.
This is about you. So do you, boo.
For real this time, and forever. You’re worth it. Trust me. It's absolutely not even a question.