Being in the fitness industry for the last 6-7 years of my life, I tend to be the go-to person at parties,get-togethers,bathrooms (for real), you name it –when it comes to questions about working out and eating right. I’m TOTALLY okay with that, because I LOVE to talk about it and helping others brings me SO much joy! Hello, I have an entire BLOG about it and LIVE it every day!
Now, what DOES get a bit frustrating is when I stand there excitedly giving people advice and options as to what they can do, and they IMMEDIATELY come back at me with why that JUST isn’t possible for them. I’m tired of hearing that you don’t have time, that you can’t do *this* because it hurts your *that* (barring serious injuries, it is usually something that can be modified very easily!), that healthy food is gross, that it’s too expensive, you don’t have a gym membership, blah blah blahdeefrickinblah! Let me fill you all in on a little secret:
You don’t need to rearrange your life in order to have a healthy one! There is this notion that in order to be healthy you have to “go to the gym a lot and eat vegetables all the time.” You don’t. You just don’t. I truly believe that ANYONE and EVERYONE can lead a healthy lifestyle.
Now to make this clear, I don’t think everyone needs to be like me. I realize that I’m not the norm. For heaven’s sake, I LIKE BURPEES. IT ISN’T NORMAL. I crave vegetables and eat them in massive quantities for “fun”. While that is me, I realize that not everyone is that and you absolutely DO NOT have to be anything close to that. I believe everyone can live a healthy and active life by making SIMPLE and SMALL changes. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods and you don’t have to become a slave to the gym. I actually would steer you a different direction if that’s where you were headed!
Let me tell you a little story about someone very close to me: my boyfriend Charlie. I always use Charlie as the perfect example of someone who has had the effect of a changed life without actually changing their life around.
When I met Charlie, his habits were very typical of an American. He ate fast food for most meals (McDonalds was a go-to), M&M’s and Famous Amos cookies for a snack, and save for the random hike here and there, he was pretty sedentary. I had no intentions of trying to change him into some health nut or workout freak and I still don’t. That’s not him and that is totally okay.
Charlie knew that his lifestyle wasn’t very healthy and wanted to change it, but, like SO many others, he wasn’t quite sure what to do. In his head, you had to eat broccoli all day if you wanted to be healthy. Aside from the perceived awfulness of a healthy diet, he’s also very stubborn. To him, working out was something he just didn’t have time for. He, once again, perceived this as something that would easily take 2-3 hours out of his day, which was just not possible. He works A LOT and if being healthy meant interfering with his work and passion, it was likely going to last about .543 seconds. I remember the first time I suggested that he try brown rice instead of white rice. I’m pretty sure he considered running away from me and never speaking to me again. (Glad you didn’t, babe). I might as well have insulted Star Wars!!(FYI: You can lose limbs for that kind of talk around this house….) I knew then that this wouldn’t be easy, but I was willing to help and be patient with him since I knew, ultimately, he wanted to be a healthier person. It took me reminding myself that not everyone is like me. I LOVE the gym, LOVE the sweat, WANT to workout, LOVE eating healthy (don’t get me wrong, I love other foods that aren’t so healthy, but for the most part, I like food that makes me feel good), so it isn’t as hard for me to motivate myself to go do those things. Not everyone feels that way about it, and that is completely okay. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
I tell you this because with some small changes here and there, Charlie has become a pretty healthy person!
These days, Charlie eats brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lean meats, fruit, vegetables, and minimally processed foods (by choice and taste), snacks on Greek Yogurt (and loves it more than anyone I know!!), eats balanced meals on the regular (his former lunch of a #2 at McDonald’s has now become a chicken, brown rice, and vegetable bowl at Chipotle), checks ingredients on packages before eating anything (he’s more obsessed than I am on this!!) and he works out with me at least 1-2 times per week. His life has not been overhauled, his schedule has not been compromised, and he does this all by choice. YES, he still eats sweets and junk food. But he does it on occasion, not on the regular. I absolutely support and encourage him, but if he didn’t want to eat healthier and BE healthier, he’d still be eating a steady diet of Taco Bell Double Deckers. He now tells me that on the very rare occasions that he does eat fast food, he instantly feels like garbage and never wants to eat it again. He can’t even believe he used to live on that stuff! (Hell, I did too in high school! Not sure how I even functioned! Teenager cells, I guess.) Charlie will still eat his beloved M&M’s and Milky Ways on occasion, and he will NEVER say no to a milkshake (although, thankfully, he isn’t offered one very often ;-).) This is all just to say, you CAN have your cake and eat it too. Just not all the time. (I’ll be the first to admit that on a weekly basis, SOME type of candy will be consumed by me.)
My point in highlighting Charlie’s story is to show you that it CAN be done by anyone. Even if you’re not trying to be a “health freak” (yeah, I know what you guys say about us!!!!), you are still capable of leading a VERY healthy life. I repeat, it does NOT have to completely change your life. You can still eat the foods you love and do the things you love. It is the LITTLE changes that really add up and that is what you have to remember. Charlie and I still eat frozen yogurt (hey, maybe sometimes
we I might even maybe, kinda, sorta, eat it twice in one day like last Saturday), get burgers, share endless bowls of chips and salsa, and thoroughly enjoy our food. Deprivation is NOT in our vocabulary. Moderation is.
So what are some lifestyle principles that we live by?
1. Moderation. We don’t eat frozen yogurt and burgers every day. It’s usually a once a week type of thing. (If, hypothetically, you DO get it twice in one day, it still counts as once a week since it was just one day of that week….right?!?!?!)
2. When we are craving a burger or something that is typically deemed “unhealthy”, we choose better ingredients. As I mentioned in this post, Burger Lounge is our go-to because of the ingredients they use. Charlie gets a grass-fed beef burger and I get a free-range turkey burger. No fake, fatty meat and no factory farms. Basically, we try to eat at restaurants that offer a better quality, when available. When it comes to something like chips and salsa, we buy chips that have very few ingredients and ingredients that we can actually recognize, and get salsa using the same standards.
3. We make it at home. For example, instead of eating sodium-laden Chipotle all the time, we make it at home for dinner several times per week. This allows us to control our ingredients so we know what we’re putting into our bodies. Organic Chicken, Brown Rice, Organic Bell Peppers, Half-Sodium Black Beans, Mexican Cheese (we buy any brand that doesn’t have any weird preservatives. This can be tough, so if you’re able to go to a health food store for this, I highly recommend it. The Ralph’s near us only has ONE brand that doesn’t have a bunch of fillers in it), and Hot Sauce. We both agree that it is actually BETTER than Chipotle.
4. Our workouts typically last 20-25 minutes. Sure, sometimes we do longer workouts, but I absolutely 100% guarantee that you can get a fantastic workout in with only a 15-20 minute window to work with. Sometimes they don’t even require ANY equipment at all! (In fact, I’ll be releasing an e-book in the next few months that will give you PAGES of quick, equipment-less, workouts that will have you mopping your sweat off the floor in under 30 minutes.)
As you can see, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even deciding to make ONE small change to your health can have a huge impact. It’s the exact reason why the plethora of excuses drives me crazy. I can’t express enough that you don’t have to go Biggest Loser style and workout 5 hours a day while eating 1200 calories of fake food to lose weight or be healthy. You have to care about your health and make the attempt to make small changes.