My health philosophy has changed and relaxed substantially over the years. In my adolescence I struggled with disordered eating, yo-yoing weight, and subsequently an extremely negative body image. I have learnt that the only way to overcome these issues is by applying consistency in my eating and exercise habits (i.e. no more cycles of dieting and bingeing) and the removal of personal ‘should’ statements. By learning to reframe my internal dialogue from what I should do, to what I could do (i.e. do I actually want to?), continues to provide me with the perspective of having a choice in my actions. This simple rephrasing of my self-talk reminds me that I am in control of my actions and the expectations I place on myself; that I can either choose to be a slave to my self-talk; or choose to challenge these extreme expectations and be kinder to myself.
In a practical sense, this means that now, if I wake up to my alarm to find it’s freezing outside, and I really want to stay snug in bed an extra 40 minutes before work, I will happily snooze without beating myself up about this decision for the rest of the day. It means, that if I happen to eat a pizza for lunch or a cupcake with a girlfriend, I no longer label the day as a ‘bad’ food day. I refrain from over-thinking the meal and bingeing for the remainder of the day, as I would have done in my younger years.
At other times, this may resonate in reading a book in the bath while sipping on a glass of wine after work, rather than forcing myself to put on my exercise gear rain, hail or shine. The overarching theme in my recovery was learning to be kinder to myself; learning to re-frame negative internal thoughts into positive ones and realising that the high expectations I was placing on myself were only making me unhappy.
I am of course not advocating a sedentary lifestyle or unhealthy eating habits, far from it. Instead, I am advocating moderation, self-kindness and the decision to listen to what your body needs each day.
My personal exercise routine varies from week to week. I love yoga and also enjoy pilates, walks out in nature, and using my new stationary bike while catching up on my favourite TV series after work. I hate running and body pump classes, and therefore avoid these at all costs. I continue to exercise on more days than not because I love the way exercise makes me feel, mind and body. The difference now is that I grant myself non-judgmental freedom to take the day off if I would rather do something else that particular day.
This non-judgement and self-acceptance extends to my eating habits. Where I was once very rigid with my food intake, obsessively counting calories and refusing meals that I had not personally prepared, I now focus on moderation. This means that while I eat really well 80% of the time, I also enjoy my favourite, less nutrient dense foods, in moderation. For me, this approach stopped the cycle of binge eating and self-loathing, and taught me that nourishing my body with healthy foods should not feel like deprivation.
My (typical) Day on a Plate:
Wholegrain toast with Natural Peanut Butter (I love Mayvers) or homemade bircher or toasted muesli with yoghurt, nuts and berries.
A skinny latte or two (two is my max every day).
Homemade soup, leftovers from dinner, a salad, sandwich, or sometimes muesli with yoghurt nuts and berries if I have not already had it for breakfast!
Usually Salmon with veggies or a yummy Asian inspired chicken salad, homemade soup, a stir-fry or any version of an Asian or Mexican inspired healthy concoction.
Raw Nuts, homemade bliss balls, fruit, yoghurt, veggie sticks, dark chocolate, smoothies, skinny lattes, chai lattes, black and herbal tea.
If I have dessert, this typically consists of a homemade raw dessert (see the dessert section for my top picks) or a few squares of chocolate.
My favourite ‘sometime’ foods:
Choctops (how can you not at the cinema?), chocolate (I am sensing a theme), lollies, Thai food, Indian food, hot chips, white wine or pear cider. Drooling just listing these 🙂