What Health Means to Me...
Recently I’ve been asked a LOT about my eating habits and 'workout regime'. Mostly off the back of the Jockey show at NZ Fashion Week, as obviously there is a fair bit of pressure that goes with walking in your underwear in front of hundreds of eyeballs! But I also want to take the opportunity to share my health “journey” (cringe, but it’s the only word that works, sue me) and to add some context.
Over the last few years, I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs with health and nutrition. I lived in London a few years ago (the classic 2 year stint) and put on a fair bit of chunk after travelling through Europe and eating all of the pizza and gyros (can I get a hell yeah for gyros?!). I remember Skyping my Mum one day who said I was “looking very healthy around the face area” which is her lovely way of saying I was fat. That was the moment I decided to get my act together and start making healthier choices… Although I look back now and realise I had no bloody clue about what healthy even was. My idea of a healthy dinner at the time was literally iceberg lettuce leaves drowned in sugary dressing. I know, ridiculous. Over time, I got more and more interested in fitness and nutrition, but I started taking it way too far. This is such an easy trap to fall in to, and it happens to the best of us… Here’s why:
I downloaded MyFitnessPal and started documenting EVERYTHING I ate. I would freak out if I went over my measly 1200 calorie allocation (apps don’t know shit), and became so addicted to losing weight that I would avoid social occasions like going out for dinner in case I would have to eat something unhealthy. I know this sounds extreme, but it tends to snowball pretty quickly! I had a trainer who I would see twice a week, and I would only ever eat carbs after I worked out. If you do the math, that’s only eating carbs a few times a week. To be honest, I got in great shape. The best shape I’ve probably ever been in in my life, but I wasn’t happy. All I ever thought about was food, and if I had one drop of sugar I would binge on it as if I would never eat again. I was far away from family and all my friends lived on the other side of London so I was pretty lonely. When I look back at that period in my life now, I believe I was depressed. I thought I was the epitome of health, but really I couldn’t have been further from it.
Fast forward 6 months or so, and it all came back as soon as I started eating normally again. The weight, I mean. This was the turning point for me, and I realised that I needed to do something to fix my mind set and my happiness. This meant giving up on “dieting” as it obviously wasn’t working for me. I started to eat when I was hungry, ate what I wanted (in moderation) and didn’t count calories. The change was evident! I was far more social, much happier, and exercised when I felt like it rather than when I thought I should.
The point of all this is that health is about so much more than going to the gym. It’s about being the best version of yourself you can possibly be, and for me, nutrition plays a huge part of that. I eat as naturally as I can (with treats whenever I feel like it), and I can honestly say that has contributed to feeling happier, having more energy, and generally feeling bloody awesome. The hardest part about healthy eating is, I believe, starting (and knowing where to start). As soon as I realised how good I felt after eating natural whole foods, I wanted to eat shit food less and less. Now I don’t even think about it, it’s second nature. However I have to make something clear… I’m not talking about anything drastic, it’s literally just cutting out anything processed, it’s as simple as paleo pie. I still eat dairy because I live for cheese and cream, but try and keep refined sugar and grains to a minimum. For me, these are the factors on top of nutrition that give me balance:
- Surrounding myself with people that make me laugh, that care about me, and are all round good genuine people
- Getting a lot of sleep. I feel like people overlook this but it has done wonders for my happiness levels
- Keep Stress out of your life! Or as low as possible, and find your own ways of dealing with it.
- Moving my body. Exercise is the key to more energy for me!
- Never comparing myself to anyone else
That last point is a toughie. I’m pretty certain that every human on this planet compares themselves to someone else at least once every day - consciously or subconsciously. Everyone does it, it’s a part of life. I reckon the key is to recognise when you do it, and snap the hell out of it. My mum gave me great advice when I was younger that has stuck with me – she said “There will always be someone else who has more than you, and if you compare yourselves to them, you will only ever be unhappy. Focus on what you DO have rather than what you don’t”. I have days where I get frustrated if money is tight, or I get annoyed that the little bit of cellulite on my thighs will not just piss off, or the fact that I’m not super skinny and have no waist (literally none, it’s just a big square block), but then I think to myself… Who actually cares? I would never ever think that of another woman so I would like to think that women wouldn’t think that of me? The only one judging us is ourselves. I’d rather take health and happiness than a small waist any day. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that ;)