It wasn’t till a couple years ago, when I had stomach pain for the forth time, that I decided to look at just how much I was drinking. As a univeristy student, the parties, wine nights with the girls, and occasional grabbing drinks with friends were really adding up. So half way through my third year I decided to go cold turkey, and here is what I learned.
It’s Affecting You More Than You Think
I did not realize, till I gave up my vodka cranberries and pinot grigios, just how much my drinking was affecting my lifestyle. My usual groggy Saturday and Sunday mornings turned into vibrant and productive times in my week. As well I stopped craving late night pizzas and greasy hang over food.
More time in my week, meant I had more energy. So naturally I took to the gym. It soon became my new way of blowing off steam after a tough week, rather than having a few drinks.
You Can Still Go Out
True, you may not be feeling quite as bubbly, but the more you go out sober the more comfortable you’ll get. My friend and I use to have sober nights out, we would laugh, dance and sip on our iced waters. Who knew drunken pick up lines are so much funnier when you’re sober.
You’ll Save Money
As a uni student this one really hit home. When I ditched the drinks, my bank account started getting larger. Alcohol isn’t cheap, and drinks can really add up after a night out. Plus with the extra money I was able to splurge elsewhere, like a brand new top.
You Don’t Have To Give Up Alcohol Completely
Drinking is a choice, and sometimes it’s better to think less is more(rather than none at all!). I do now enjoy drinks on occasion but I try to stick to a 2 drink limit for casual nights out. I’ve avoided a lot of early morning headaches this way.
What are your thoughts on drinking?
I learned about self-love and confidence from the person I looked up to most growing up, my older sister. Two years my elder, I was a consistent pain in her neck. Everything she did, I did, since I was old enough to walk. I acted in a play because she did. I wanted to learn to read, but only over her shoulder the books that were far too advanced for me. She was a force to be reckoned with, born with innate strong opinions and a captivating speaking voice. She was always encouraging us to sign petitions for social justice causes or arguing political debates the rest of my family knew nothing about.
We had strong differences on personal ascetics, she was a tomboy through and through, and I was a girly girl. Well, we could not seem to match our opinions on makeup or clothing we remained close despite our differences. Throughout high school I watched her develop into a stunning voluptuous woman(think Kim K curves), while I was slowly developing an unhealthy relationship with food which diminished my self-confidence.
It wasn’t till after high school that my sister told me something that changed the way I saw myself. She confessed that seeing me struggle with self-image made her realize that confidence had nothing to do with the size you wear. That she was just going to be confident for who she is and love how she looks. It was her words that helped me shake the shy exterior and start building my confidence from the inside out.
It’s true confidence cannot be built from the outside. Many of the world’s top supermodels have body insecurities just like the rest of us. So rather than looking towards our exteriors to be a source of self-love, why not start building it by loving ourselves exactly how we are. Thankfully there has been a shift, models such as Ashley Graham are at the forefront of reshaping the beauty standard to be a mosaic of diverse body types that encompasses the modern woman. Social media platforms have given women a voice, body positive accounts such as @bodyposipanda promote a healthy relationship with our bodies and celebrate women in their natural form. This change was a long overdue breath of fresh air.
So why not love ourselves now? It’s true changing the way you feel can take time, but even the little steps are worth it. My sister’s words were exactly what I needed to hear to get the ball rolling, yet I admit it’s hard not to fall into old patterns. I am lucky to have amazing friends, who love and support each other, and I fill my life with things that promote a healthy body image. Over the last year, our family had the pleasure of watching my sister get married and start a new chapter of her life. I will be forever grateful to have had her as both a sister and a role model. It was her words and example that taught me to nurture and love the most important relationship of all, the one with yourself.
To get a gym membership or not. That is the question.
We have this idea that a gym membership is the only way to a toned and fit body, but it isn’t true. Most of the workouts we do at the gym we can do at home. The bike machine- ride a bike. The treadmill-go for a run. Yet as a self-professed gym lover there’s the reasons why or why not you should invest in a gym membership.
There’s no doubt that if you’re the type of person who loves lifting heavy weights or needs the extra motivation, the gym can provide; the gym may just be the right fit for you. There are a million reasons why to use the gym, you need a place to escape and refocus, or perhaps you live in an extremely cold climate. There’s no way I’m going out for a run at -15˚C (or 5˚F).
There are really only two reasons to not go to the gym.
- You won’t use it(or use it enough)
- You can’t afford it.
It can be hard to know if you will use a gym membership before you buy one. So simply asking yourself a few questions can get you started. Do you work out now? Is there something there motivating you that you will stick to? Is it a reasonable distance from your house, so it won’t discourage you from going? It’s important to think of these things before signing up and do your research on gym/class options available.
If you find you fit in the second category, don’t be discouraged. There are tons of free workout videos available to get you in tip-top shape. I remember one winter working out to Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred using cans of beans instead of weights because I was too broke to afford to purchase a set. Sure, my friends made fun of me, but I was getting fit, and it didn’t cost me a cent!
Ultimately no one but you can decide if purchasing a gym membership is the right thing to do. Remember feeling and financial situations change, so go with what works best for you now. You can always re-evaluate later.
I didn’t just decide to be healthy one day, and that was that. It’s a constant journey, I give up some days, backtrack or get lazy, but I keep trying. The American dream is based on the pursuit of happiness. I just have my own definition of what happy and healthy means to me. I sculpted my life to fit my dream. I focused on creating a day to day lifestyle that I love. That nourishes me and fulfills my needs. Sure, I might not be a millionaire(yet!) or be winning a cross fit championship anytime soon. Those aren’t my dream. My dream is to live a lifestyle that promotes a healthy body, healthy mind and happy heart.
I started small, doing 10-minute exercise videos. Now I just finished a basketball season, where we won the championship and looking forward to running my first 5k run in the summer. It’s taken time, and consistency to see results. I used to focus on being thin, but now I concentrate on finding activities I love, and the physical results are just an added bonus. Last week I received the biggest compliment when a friend asked me to help her get in shape and lose weight! It’s great to know that my fitness journey has not just helped change my life, but that others are noticing the change and want it for themselves.
The best changes aren’t the physical ones, it’s the change in my perspective. Somehow running a half hour on the treadmill when I thought I would give up, turned to me dedicating myself in other areas of my life. I now look forward to challenges and have faith in my ability to accomplish them. Not to mention the endorphins from working out do not hurt! I have more energy, sleep better and feel a definite increase in my mood. Living a fit and healthy life is an integral part of my personal pursuit of happiness.
I had heard of keeping a food journal but had never given it much consideration. Except for a two-week stint with a personal trainer(who forced me to) and I hated the process. I have to confess that my initial intentions were not to lose weight. Rather I was fed up of having stomach problems, and I thought a journal might help me get to the root of the cause. It worked, and now it’s become a valuable tool in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
My first and rather short attempt at a food journal left me feeling guilty. Quite honestly I hated the whole experience. Feeling guilty for eating is ridiculous, we all need to eat. And hating yourself for what you eat is an easy way to hate your body and your life! So you ate a cookie(or a whole box!) Feeling guilty for it isn’t going to mean you didn’t eat the cookie, but it does bring unnecessary negative feelings. So, the best thing I did, was banish the guilt!
Step 1. Buy a journal.
If you’re a writer like me, you may be familiar with journaling. I personally always buy fun and colorful journals. But really a pen and some scrap paper will do. Make a note on your phone or keep a list on your laptop. There are apps that also allow you to track what you eat. I use the old standard of a journal and a pen and paper, but use whatever works for you. The important part is to get writing.
Step 2. Get Writing
I write in the evening, and the hardest part is, to be honest with myself. I would love to skip the days I went out for nachos with the girls or ate a whole box of cookies by myself. But the good comes with the bad, and the most important thing is honesty. Plus once you get used to Step 3, you’ll feel a lot better about the days that don’t go so well.
Step 3. Banish the Guilt
This is the hardest step. We’ve been taught that we need to eat less, or feel guilty for indulging.
It’s hard to realize that we should be enjoying our food. That dinner time should not be associated with guilt or feelings of regret. This was an important part for me to begin loving my body at any size. As someone who’s gone years of trying to eat less, and feeling guilty for eating too much. Sure, it worked and I lost weight. But I wasn’t happy and I often could not maintain the weight loss. Choosing to banish guilt and have a loving relationship with food was the most freeing feeling.
Step 4. Write how the food made you feel. 🙂
I do this simply by writing smile faces for food that made me feel good and frowning faces for food that made me feel bad. It was the first time I started paying attention to how food made me feel, and I was amazed. Not only did I see a huge difference in the difference between eating clean and fresh food, but I began craving it over the junk food which made me feel gross. For the first time, I started craving healthy food with no gimmicks or tricks. I was eating clean simply because I wanted to.
Optional: Step 5. Write something you’re grateful for.
I began this step months after I started my food journal. Every night I try to write something I’m thankful for or a positive thing that happened that day. It helps put me in a good mood before I fall asleep, and I wake up happier because of it.
Keeping a food journal has worked for me, and I hope you can find some of the tricks I use helpful. Well, there are some nights I forget or am not able to write, I always get back to journaling as soon as I can. I started this blog because I had successfully dieted and exercised to lose weight. Well, it worked, I wasn’t happy and always found my weight yoyoing because of it. Now, I focus on creating a lifestyle I love and a positive relationship with the food I eat. Well, it has helped me loose weight, more importantly, it helped me develop a great relationship with my body and a happier life.