#Food&Fitness for $500

These really could be their own categories, but for my purposes, they go hand in hand. Everything about food and fitness is a personal choice that adds up to the lifestyle we lead. We all have our reasons for our choices when it comes to the food we eat and the physical activity we seek. My motivation is simple: to look, feel and BE healthy from the inside out. It’s more than just the number on the scale or the size of my pants, but what’s going on in the inside too. There’s more than just food and exercise that impacts our health, such as genetics and environmental factors, but these are the two I have the greatest control over, so this is where I’ve decided to channel my time and energy.

So let’s start with food, because they say getting healthy starts in the kitchen. As a disclaimer, I am not a dietitian, so my thoughts are only my personal, and not professional, opinion. But I do know the basics and read up on new health kicks so I can continuously incorporate healthier habits into my daily routine. Just as much as I (and my body) love eating healthy though, indulging and treating yourself is a part of this conversation too. As you will see later in the #Passions&PastTimes section, I love cooking and it can’t always be healthy…that’s just no fun. Just in the past few years, I’ve taken more interest in cooking and with that, I’ve not only learned more foods and where they’re hiding in the grocery store, but I’ve learned about their health benefits, and sometimes lack thereof.

Cooking has had a domino effect in my life in more ways than I ever imagined…not only does it challenge me in a different way and bring joy with trying new things in the kitchen, but it’s given me more control over the food I eat and even put a few more dollars back in my wallet by giving me another reason not to order in or eat out. However, I will say that I do love trying new restaurants and especially love “to brunch”, which I’ll talk about more later, but again, it’s all about BALANCE.

So what’s the plan? I hope to use the “work week” as the time I practice a more disciplined and health conscious diet by filling it with fresh groceries and home cooked meals. I think this will work with and not against myself because this is when I’m in a routine and face less temptation that comes from events and social gatherings. Of course this isn’t a binding contract, where I’ll enjoy the occasional happy hour, but I like to think of it as guideline for myself. What will be my biggest challenge is when I travel as there are times when my work requires me to, which not only throws off my weekly routine, but reduces the control I have over my options for food. At first, a nice meal on the company card sounds awesome, but it loses its touch over time. Luckily I’ve gotten better, but that juicy steak and those creamy mashed potatoes sometimes seem too good to pass up.

As important as I think it is to surround yourself with healthy choices, you can’t forget to indulge. You’re going to at some point anyway, so why not control it and do it with intention so you really enjoy it and don’t just associate it with regret? As for the weekends, vacation and holidays, it’s not a complete free-for-all, but it’s most definitely where I plan to welcome my cheats. I don’t see the point in saying no to the spinach and artichoke dip (no it is not healthy just because it has two vegetables in the name) when it’s your favorite appetizer at the party or depriving your sweet tooth when that cookie or cake is calling your name. Actually, cheese is my chocolate so that’s my kryptonite, but the point is, you don’t always have to say no, but BALANCE it out in other ways such as working it off…which is a nice segway to the other half of this rant…fitness.

I’ve always been an active person. As a child, I studied ballet as a pre-professional for 10 years where I would train upwards of 6 days a week. After making the tough decision to stop all together, my challenge has since been finding a form of physical activity that is equally as demanding and rewarding. In high school, I tried cross country and lacrosse, in college, I took advantage of the rec center work out machines and classes such as zumba and spinning, and post-grad, I’ve explored a whole slew of things from yoga and pilates to kickboxing. I can’t say I’ve ever succeeded in finding something that fully replaced ballet, but at least I can say I’ve stayed active in pursuit of filling that void.

I’ve faced a second challenge along the way as well. When you’ve grown up thinking of your physical activity as the thing you love instead of just do, you struggle when it’s the reverse. As a result, I have to create motivation for myself to just do it when the love and enjoyment aren’t naturally there. It’s not a matter of making time, but pushing myself to prioritize that time the same way I would for something I love. I’m not making any excuses for myself though because it is MY goal to be healthy after all.

I will say, the first time you see results when you look in the mirror, or better yet, feel the results when you put on your clothes or simply have more energy, you catch a natural high that leaves you wanting more. Notice I didn’t mention anything about a scale. A body builder might need a scale to measure progress against their goals, but that isn’t what measures mine. So before you get hung up on a number, ask yourself if you need it to know you’ve reached your goals. I actually don’t own a scale and the only time I step foot on one is when I’m asked to while at the doctor’s.

Because I’m interested in exercising in order to be healthy and feel good, I am more focused on the quality of the workout than the quantity. Quantity has two meanings here: the number of workouts and the number of minutes spent per workout. After all, there are other things in my life I am trying to BALANCE and I only have so many minutes in a day and so many days in a week. So purpose and power is what I’m going for. They say you should schedule your workouts and hold yourself to that time just like you would any other appointment. So my new philosophy is simple: when you have 30 minutes to work out, prioritize it and stick to it. But even more so, be there for those 30 minutes and make the most of it so when you move on with your day, you can fully check it off your list and feel great about it. 30 minutes might not even sound worth it, but it’s simple math… 30 minutes > 0 minutes.

I believe you have to set yourself up for success by finding out what works best for you. If “working out” itself doesn’t excite you, then find a way to disguise it. And make sure it’s a comfortable environment that motivates you…if working out is something you like to do on your own, keep it that way. On the other hand, if you need a little extra motivation or some accountability, ask someone to join you or find a class. So my challenge to myself is to get creative in finding different ways to exercise in a way I enjoy, and my goal is to prioritize and do a minimum of three 30-60 minute workouts per week. That’s twice during the week and once on the weekend when you think about it…sounds reasonable to me.

I know I’m not a runner, so that’s out. Going off of my rooted passion for ballet, I got a trial membership for Pure Barre so I am excited to try that out. That one might even hit on more than one area of my BALANCE equation, so sounds like a two-for-one deal to me.

…What is healthy living?

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