During my major in physiotherapy the majority of my lectures consisted of the human body, how it works and develops and how to take care of it. I learned about all kinds of excersizes on a daily basis and nutrition-related topics made their appearances as well. Although I have chosen not to pursue a carreer in this field, I do not regret studying all this stuff. It helps me understand my own body and set realistic and healthy lifestyle goals for myself.
In my teens and early twenties I was that annoying person that could eat anything in ridiculous quantities without gaining a pound of fat. Well, I have just turned 26 and I have to admit, this (extremely useful!) trait is wearing off slowly. During my time in Paris I most certainly did not lead a healthy lifestyle at all! I was rather tight on money as rent was insanely high in the area I lived in, so I didn’t want to spend all my money on healthy food (which was, again, ridiculously expensive at my local supermarket). I chose to eat quick and easy processed foods, but as my job was highly active, it didn’t affect my body much. Bon.
So when I came home, my situation changed. I didn’t move much at all and I was mostly getting through my weeks as a fulltime couch potato, applying to jobs and watching Netflix from the comforts of home. Since my body was still used to my Parisian eating habits, I had constant cravings and naturally gave in way too many times, ha! Within the first month I noticed I was gaining weight (gaining fat tissue in this case). Which is completely fine – c’est la vie – but it did tell me that I was consuming too many calories for my body to process, which is not healthy in the long run. Also, it somehow felt like I was failing. Like I was losing control over my own body or something, which was new to me as I am usually so savvy when it comes to maintaining my physique! This was my trigger to turn things around. I didn’t want things to get out of hand, so better start early before too much damange has been done!
How to get into a healthy lifestyle
Baby steps. Your body needs time to adjust to changes. This is why it is called a lifestyle and not a.. *cringe*.. diet. Do not forbid yourself from eating things or doing things that you enjoy – just try to reduce them slowly. If you want to retake control over your addiction to chocolate (*raises hand*), try reducing the amount everytime. Eat half a bar instead of a full one, and once you’re ready, just eat a few pieces a time. You can also switch from milk to dark chocolate. All the little things help! Same goes for working out, just start off with one or two sessions a week and go from there. Also in terms of weight loss, in my lectures it was always mentioned how important it is to take things slowly. Losing 1 pound (0,5kg) a week should be a maximum! Anything over that is deemed unhealthy and will most likely not last. These are a few things that have worked for me:
1. Tracking food
Yeah, basic.. I know! But this was my first step towards getting back in control of my body and I cannot put into words how extremely helpful this is to get started! Writing down every single thing you eat in a day (no cheating!) gives you something to work with (and while you’re at it, don’t forget to track your water intake as well!). It can be a bit confronting to see what you really eat in a day, because you usually forget about the little snack moments here and there. Creating a list makes you realize you probably eat more or less than you think. What really helped me in this process was the ‘My Fitness Pal’ app. I still use it today to scan the barcode of everything I eat and it shows me the nutrients. This way you really learn about the food you consume and I find that it also helps in saying no to unhealthy snacks as it messes up your progress in the app. It creates a sort of challenge to keep using the app everyday and make progress in it. I personally really like that!
2. Understanding what your body needs
I can bore you with formulas, but luckily we live in a time where there’s online calculators for everything. Just pull up Google and search for a BMR calculator. BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and it basically means the exact amount of calories your body burns in a day. It depends on your age, height, gender and activity level. The trick to weight control is understanding how to manipulate your daily calorie intake with the help of your personal BMR. If you want to lose fat tissue, stay below your BMR (but the deficit should never be over 500 calories because your body needs to function!) and obviously if you need some extra fat tissue, you want to consume more than your BMR. Once you have reached your goal fat percentage, focus on your daily vitamins and a good balance between carbs, fats and protein while keeping your daily calorie intake around your BMR. And always drink enough water to keep your body well hydrated.
Of course, we all know that exercize is good for you. When you’re on a weight maintanance mission it can help you so much in the long run! Doing resistance training will grow your muscle mass, resulting in a higher BMR. Doing cardio burns calories on the spot, making it easier to stay under your maintanance calorie intake for the day. And let’s not forget, doing all kinds of exersize is so valuable to your body! As we get older, our muscles, bones and joints will suffer from serious degeneration, limiting you in your daily life. However, if your body is used to frequent exersice from a young age, this process will slow down, keeping your body healthy and flexible for so many more years.
It’s not all about what you eat and how much you exersize. A positive outlook on life must not be underestimated! If you have a positive mindset, you will feel better about yourself and everything around you. This way you will enjoy life so much more! The feeling of happiness and productiveness is a form of health that we sometimes forget, but is ever so important! Invest in inspiring surroundings that motivate you, positive people around you that lift you up and support you and spend time doing things that make you happy and give you joy.
Much of the above sounds like rocket science, but I swear if you get into it you’ll get better and better and it’ll be easy to turn this into a new healthy lifestyle rather than another random short-lasting diet. Understanding what you put into your body is very interesting and quite entertaining and in the long run it comes with endless benefits! And like I mentioned, it’s always fun to make it a challenge!
I think men and women of all shapes and sizes are absolutely beautiful. No one needs to feel like they have to look a certain way. But I do think it is important to take care of your body and make sure you provide it with healthy fuel and at least weekly excersize. A body is a machine, and it needs taking care of to function properly for as long as possible. You deserve to live a long and healthy life, because you are beautiful! Please take care of yourself!