Nearly five years ago, I committed to healthy living and haven’t looked back.
As I graduated college, entered the real world, and was just starting out in my ‘big-girl’ job, I decided it was also time to finally take care of my body. In my eyes, this new chapter in my life was all about becoming an adult, so it was time I act like one by treating my body with more respect.
Don’t get me wrong – college was an absolute blast! I definitely have no regrets and would not take anything back. After all, I may not have developed the same attitudes, but I was ready to move on from many of my less-than-healthy habits.
Joining a Gym
The first step in my quest for a healthier life was joining a gym. I was living at home at the time, so I chose XSport as it was on my way to and from work.
I quickly learned that I had to create time to workout and make it a priority. I found that if I went home from work first and sat down on the couch, there was only about a 50/50 shot (or less) of making it to the gym so I started going in the morning or stopping in directly on my way home.
Personal Training & Group Exercise
Given that I was living at home right out of college, I had more money that I knew what to do with, especially compared to the life of a college student. Although I saved most of it, I purchased some personal training sessions to kickstart my workout routine. Additionally, I took advantage of the wide variety of free group exercise classes they offered.
Although a personal trainer is definitely not necessary (and I haven’t had one for years since), it helped me stay accountable and on-track, as well as really establish a strong habit of working out as I first started.
Not only did Steve, my personal trainer, help me build strength and a solid workout foundation, he also had me log a daily food journal for a short period. Over time, I learned the importance of a healthy diet and how food choices really affect your energy levels.
At this point, my love for cooking and a healthy lifestyle really flourished. I would constantly read my mom’s magazine subscriptions to Cooking Light and Eating Well. My mom and I cooked dinner together nearly every week night and I quickly realized how delicious healthful meals could really be, all without compromising taste or flavor!
Although my work has a pretty decent cafeteria, I became bored with the food after a while so I brought in dinner leftovers to eat for lunch. I also packed breakfast to eat after my morning workouts and lots of snacks to curb hunger throughout the day… very much like you may have seen on the blog!
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading about health and fitness and have gained a better understanding of how to properly nourish my body, yet I’m obviously not an expert by any means so I still have a lot to learn.
However, through my own trial and error, I’ve realized eating several small meals a day and incorporating protein, fiber, and healthy fats in every meal and snack is a surefire way to keep me feeling satisfied and on track.
More than ever before, I focus on real, whole foods and shy away from processed, refined fare. I am also striving towards eating more organic and local products, when possible.
Ahh perhaps my most favorite part of the day! Okay, maybe not THE most favorite part but it’s pretty high up there. What can I say? I love my sleep!
I aim to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night; however, 8 or 9 hours is optimal for me. Again, I formed a habit back when I started my job to go to bed not only at a decent time, but also a consistent time so my body would get in the routine of waking up early every morning and feeling rested.
I could talk about the benefits and importance sleep has on the body all day, but rather, I’ll just point out a few of my key reasons.
- Better muscle recovery
- More attentive
- Clearer thinking
- Improved mood
- Regulate appetite/reduce cravings for high sugar, high carb foods
- Here are a few more.
One of the things I’ve probably struggled with the most is reducing stress. Overall, I don’t consider myself a really stressed out person, but I do possess some perfectionist tendencies sometimes leading to unnecessary (but avoidable!) stress.
Without going into too much detail, I will just say I have made huge strides in managing my personal stress in the past 2 or 3 years, and I probably have twice as much on my plate now!
Last but certainly not least: relationships with family and friends. Life is not complete or healthy without a solid support system.
No longer are the days when my friends are just a dorm floor away or the days when my parents and brother are only few bedrooms away. We often find ourselves miles, hours, and plane rides away from each other. And even if distance isn’t the obstacle, we are all busy with our own careers, kids, spouses, pets and other commitments which limit our time.
Now that nearly all of my friends and family are out in the real world, it is more important than ever to maintain and nurture relationships. I’ve accepted this will always require an effort but it is so worth it and absolutely necessary to complete a life with healthy habits!