One of the reasons I took a little break from Midwestern Belle was to get in shape! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed I very rarely (if ever?!) posted pictures of myself. Well, that’s because I didn’t really like the way I looked! So, in preparation for my 30th birthday in October, I adopted a healthier lifestyle and am happy to report I dropped two dress sizes and feel great.
It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually, here are five things that made a huge difference for me…
1. I cut out wheat, sugar, and dairy. This was really hard at first! I remember wandering around the grocery store thinking “What the heck can I actually buy here?!” For me, the secret was finding great recipes for healthier versions of my favorite foods. Here are a few of my favorite swaps…
- When I feel like pizza, I make this version using cauliflower crust.
- Instead of a traditional casserole using condensed soup or cream, I use cashews to make a creamy sauce.
- I skip pasta and use vegetables like zucchini (sliced thin for “lasagna noodles”) or sweet potatoes in its place.
2. I started a food diary. Every day, I write down what I eat in my planner. I really have zero willpower when it comes to food so this helps me stay accountable. I write down pretty much everything except for water.
3. Cardio and weights. I have to admit I don’t work out that often, but when I do, I usually alternate between 10 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of weights for 30-60 minutes depending on how much time I have. This mix keeps me from getting bored and seems to produce the best results. That said, I will walk/jog outside or hike over going to the gym any day!
4. Get more sleep. I’m a night owl so even though I need a ton of sleep, I get a second wind around 10 and can easily stay up until 2 or 3! Not good! So now, I usually force myself to get in bed around 10:30 and shoot for 8 hours of sleep each night.
5. Try not to fall off the wagon when traveling. I travel a lot and it’s taken me a while to figure out how to stay somewhat healthy on the road. First, I try to only book hotel rooms with refrigerators. This can be tricky because half the time, they don’t really work that well. Or they work too well and you end up with spinach that’s frozen into a big block of ice. Either way, I’ve found the following are pretty safe “hotel refrigerator staples”: almond or coconut milk yogurt, coconut milk (for gluten-free cereal in the morning), blueberries (to add to yogurt or cereal) and hummus (for dipping vegetables.)
Eating all of your meals in a hotel room can be kind of boring, and I like trying new restaurants, so I usually eat one meal out every day. When I do this, I look at the menu ahead of time so I can decide on a healthy option.
Perhaps most importantly, I try not to stress about food or weight. I don’t want to be a slave to a weird diet! I want to enjoy life. I just went camping and trust me, my hot dog was tucked safely in a bun (white bread not whole wheat in fact…the horror!) and I made a couple s’mores. Instead of beating myself up over these foods, I enjoyed them in moderation and made sure to go back to my healthy lifestyle the next day. So far, this approach seems to be working!