About three years ago I overhauled my diet and lifestyle. I went from living off the typical student diet of microwave meals and vodka, to fuelling myself with veggies and learning to love exercise again, and I managed to shift the pounds I’d piled on at university and felt the most confident I ever had in the process. I no longer felt self-conscious. I pushed myself by attending different gym classes and I actually fell in love with running. I got interested in nutrition and worked hard to nourish my body. I felt so much better, physically and mentally, and enjoyed challenging myself.
It was a wonderful feeling, but as my studies took over my life in 2016 and I started a new job where I was constantly away from home in 2017, my healthy lifestyle fell by the wayside a little. I still continued to work out near enough to five times a week and tried to make healthy choices where I could, but it wasn’t as much of a priority and honestly I was left feeling a little deflated. 2018 was the year I vowed to get back to feeling my most confident, and by making the following simple lifestyle changes over the past few months I can happily say I’m there again.
1. Move more
Have you realised just how much time we actually spend just sat down? Sitting in the office, sitting in the car while driving or commuting to the office, sitting down when we go out to grab a coffee at lunch time, sitting down in the evening after a busy day of being sat down. I pretty much spend the majority of my day sitting on my arse, without even wanting to! Since the new year I’ve vowed to move more.
In the week I’m making a conscious effort to walk to work when I can, and at lunch time I’ve been dragging my colleagues out for a stroll in a bid to get my steps up and to get some fresh air in the process. Even a half hour walk leaves me going back to my desk feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. On the weekends I’m also making an effort to get out and get walking. Living in Wales means I’m surrounded by beautiful places to visit, but I’ve really been enjoying walking through Cardiff and all the city parks over the past few weeks too. I seriously underestimated just how much of an impact simply walking can have on your life. It’s so good for your body and mind.
2. Don’t deprive yourself
This is another thing that I’ve noticed has had a huge impact on how I feel and my visible results too. I try to stick to a pretty similar meal plan each day – a decent breakfast, lots of fruit, a light lunch and a snack before I go to the gym, before my evening meal – and most days I avoid sugary snacks (especially now as I’ve given them up for Lent!). But I do allow myself to indulge every now and again. I used to try and deprive myself of eating anything that is considered “unhealthy”, and it made me very “food conscious” and would often leave me feeling incredibly guilty if I did give in and eat it anyway. Food should not make you feel this way. Now, if I fancy a slice of garlic bread when I’m out for dinner I’ll have it. Likewise, if I want a handful of mini eggs to keep me going when I hit a wall in the office then I do. I find myself making healthier choices because of it. Heck, I actually find I work out better the day after I’ve eaten a giant pizza the night before; carb loading and all that!
3. Get enough sleep
One of the main things I wanted to stop in 2018 was the feeling that I had to go out until the early hours and get drunk in order to spend time with friends. I think moving to a new part of the city, starting a new job and meeting new people meant there was a lot of socialising going on, and it actually left me feeling pretty crap, both physically and mentally. Since practising the art of saying no, and kicking my FOMO to the ground, I’ve been resting more on weekends, have been getting early nights and I honestly feel so much better for it. I am one of these people that needs at least 9 hours of sleep to function well the next day, and honestly I love waking up on a weekend feeling fresh after a decent night’s kip and ready to take on the day. My general heath is a lot better, and I’ve been able to train harder too.
4. Keep your workouts fresh
My favourite way to work out is to attend fitness classes at my local gym, and over the past few months I’ve really enjoyed trying out the different classes that Pure Gym Cardiff has to offer. I’ve been lifting heavier weights, which is the best stress reliever IMO, and I’ve also been getting my butt back into running. I fell in love with running a few years ago, but pretty much stopped going out over the last year as I was so busy with work. Now though I try and do a longish run (5k or more) at least once a week, and mix them in with my workouts. It means I never get bored, and I’m really excited for spring so I can finally get out in the evenings again.
5. Eat out less
I’m a sucker for dining out. I love going out for meals, but in a bid to save money and to look after myself a little better I’ve reduced how often I go out for dinner and am eating home cooked meals instead, and I feel a lot better for it. I probably do dine out at least once a week most weeks, but I don’t mind so much now that I’m not going out as often on the weekends. I’ve also enjoyed getting more into cooking meals that I’d usually eat out at home. I feel far less bloated as I know exactly what’s going into the meal, and it’s a great way to boost my (mediocre) cooking skills too.
6. Drink more water/less alcohol
This also came as part of my bid to look after my mind a lot more, and the benefits have also been great for my body confidence. I’ve only been out for drinks about three times this year and generally I feel a lot less tired and groggy. I’m not itching to eat badly after a night out, I’m getting far more sleep, I’m able to train a lot harder int he gym, and my skin is so much better. My mood has also improved ten-fold and it just feels nice to be me again.
7. Give yourself something to aim for
2018 was also the year I decided I would run a half marathon, having said for about two years that I wanted to do one and never actually getting round to doing it. So, in January I signed my mum, myself and my uncle up to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in October and it’s really given me the boost I needed to get to the gym, especially on those early mornings. I love setting goals, and I’m quite determined when it comes to achieving them. Admittedly, I’m rather terrified, but October is a fair bit away so I have plenty of time to get my distance up. I’m not worried about timing, I just want to complete the race without stopping or walking. I’m also doing my first ever 10k race in two weeks time, so I’m excited to get out there and see how I get on!
8. Remind yourself of how well you’re doing
I think it’s always easier to put yourself down than boost yourself up but I’m making a real effort to think positively and to applaud myself for the changes I’ve made and the results I’ve gained. Looking back at where I was and realising how far I’ve come is a great motivator, and I also love seeing and supporting other gals who are doing the same thing. You go huns!
Lots of love. xoxo