A Healthy Lifestyle: Is It Worth It? Where I’m at Right Now.

I think it’s fair to say we all, generally-speaking, desire to live a balanced lifestyle.  Though, sometimes it seems like maneuvering such a lifestyle walks a fine line between managing a routine and increasing madness.  That’s right, I said it.  A healthy lifestyle can be hard.  As simple as it may sound to “just eat more fruit and vegetables”, that isn’t always the simple answer. 

a healthy lifestyle cauliflower rice burrito bowl
Cauliflower rice burrito bowl with black beans, tomato, carrots, corn, red onion, and cilantro.

I hold the belief that the food, exercises, behaviors, and even the thoughts we have are what determine our overall wellness.  If you’re just doing the exercise part, or, you aren’t mindfully connecting the food that you eat as being valuable to your health, then you may be missing out on some key parts of wellness.  These four areas are interconnected and, together, provide optimum health possibilities for you.  Here’s the catch: they require constant maintenance!

Recently, I began reading Alisa Vitti’s WomanCode.  The guidance outlined in the book addresses hormonal imbalance in women that perfectly aligns with the areas that I previously stated are (in my opinion) essential for overall wellness.  In addition to information about what the causes and signs of hormonal imbalance are (spoiler alert: they’re actually a lot more common than you think), Vitti provides an outline for food, exercise, and lifestyle choices that will best support women throughout their monthly cycle.  So, the adjustments that I’m currently making to sync with my cycle are my attempts to improve my health.   

a healthy lifestyle cycle calendar
Moon calendar of June which is representative of the woman’s four cycle phases.

I do believe that our bodies are ever-changing.  The sugary treats I used to eat on the regular as a kid don’t feel as good now.  Heck, even on a day-to-day basis, my mood can change and the kind of workout I am up for varies.  As far as my status of health and wellness goes, I feel pretty clear about what I want in my life and what I don’t (though, other areas of life, such as career paths, are something else).  I prefer to exclude food or activities that are toxic to my body and mind.  Instead, I’d rather place my focus on what does serve me and listen to the messages my body and mind give me. 

I started this post by saying how hard it is to keep up a healthy lifestyle.  There are several areas to juggle and sometimes it is overwhelming to keep trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Along the way, it might require taking a break from exercise or over-indulging in a restaurant-serving of pasta.  #LIFE  Trial and error sucks but the learning experiences help me reinforce why I started my health and fitness journey in the first place: to feel like my best self.    

We weren’t designed to live in one constant state or rigid daily ritual.  Rather, each day is different and each day we can learn how to better ourselves. 

a healthy lifestyle

I actually got inspiration for this thought piece from Alexis over at Hummusapien.  She recently wrote a post about her decision to live intuitively day to day.  I admire her mindset and I recommend you go check out her post for another great perspective on the whole healthy living scheme of things.

Thank you for reading!  I don’t have all of the answers (though, I’ve never claimed to) so I appreciate you for taking an interest in my thoughts and sticking around this little blog of mine.  Does the ever-changing nature of your health and fitness journey confuse you, too?  Let me know.  I love reading your comments♥

What Happens When You Stop Exercising (Intensely)

the day I participated in my first ever race

I have been a longtime member of the Tone it Up fitness community.  The Tone it Up girls, Karena and Katrina, put together workouts, a weekly schedule, and structure it to help women achieve fit and strong, bikini-ready bodies.  I actually found their workouts during their 2015 Bikini Series.  I really enjoy them but a persistent health concern required me to take a step back.  So, I had been following their daily workouts for a while but, in January 2017, I decided to take a break from exercise altogether.

At the time, Tone it Up had an exciting 6 week workout challenge happening.  I was also doing a Yoga Revolution challenge from Yoga with Adriene.  Tone it Up involves heart-pumping workouts, weights, cardio, and more.  While I did decide to take a clean break from Tone it Up, I did keep up with the yoga challenge.  My intention was to finish the month-long yoga challenge and then stop that, too.  Along the way I fell in love with yoga and I felt that the light movements helped put my mind and body at ease.  I touch on that a bit more later.

Basically, there were a couple of things that I did notice throughout the time I was not doing intense workouts:

The change in routine sucks

The first week of not exercising intensely was tough.  I was used to waking up each morning, strapping on my sneakers, and turning on a workout video.  My workout would usually last about an hour, then I’d top it off with around half an hour of yoga.  My muscles would be warm and yoga would help cool me down and stretch out my muscles.

As someone who enjoyed lifting weights and feeling that cardio high, it was something I did not want to give up.  Admittedly, I used to go about my day with a total body soreness that would not leave.  I would feel proud of each of my workout accomplishments but the persistent pain in my upper back was something I started to learn to live with. That pain completely went away two weeks after I stopped my intense exercise routine.  I still kept up with yoga which, at this time, became my sole workout.  My body began to crave yoga as a time to move and other simple activities like walking were pleasant.

You want to find that “high” somewhere else

I made sure not to let myself get obsessive and stack on several yoga videos just to make a “good workout”.  I would follow one video a day and have that be it.  The Yoga with Adriene videos that I followed (and still follow) are varied lengths but each one is fulfilling on its own.  It came to a point where I wasn’t looking to stay limber or fit from yoga but actually tuned in for some self-loving spirituality.  Though, that isn’t what this post is about.  So, let’s just say that it had a beneficial impact on my mind, body, and spirit—particularly at a time when I felt sad about giving up my previous workout regimen.

Muscles don’t just disappear

Over the course of a year with Tone it Up, I built up some pretty cute biceps that I am happy to show off in a sleeveless top.  I was genuinely scared that I would start feeling like a noodle (and looking like one, too) but my muscles have not abandoned me.  Perhaps, they are not growing like they would when I was challenging them with dumbbells but they get used in everyday activities.  I use them in downward dogs and planks in yoga, carrying grocery bags, and opening those really tight lids on jars.  In all seriousness, you can maintain a certain level of strength off of body-weight exercises and household chores.  It isn’t going to help you win a body building contest but it is good enough for me.

nutritious food doesn't need to be boring
kale salad with miso tahini dressing, lentils, roasted brussels sprouts + red onions, and chopped almonds.

Nutrition is crucial to wellness

At one time, I had the mentality that I was only working out so that I could afford to eat the sweets and desserts that I loved.  I would do some extra cardio just so I knew I burned enough calories to make that slice of cake after dinner well-deserved.  I was in a messed up place as far as my education on proper nutrition.

Thankfully, since switching to a mostly plant-based diet in fall of last year, I value everything that goes into my body.  I make healthy meals and snacks for myself, not because I’m trying to diet but, because I feel good when I fuel myself with nutritious food.  Meals filled with wholesome ingredients have kept me thriving.

I do not feel like a part of my routine is missing when I’m not participating in the kinds of workouts that I used to because my natural energy is usually pretty darn great thanks to my lifestyle choices.  I do appreciate the addition of higher intensity workouts and weight-lifting but it isn’t crucial to my well-being.  It has taken a long time for me to come to that conclusion.  I felt uncomfortable without exercise but it can be done.  I’ve survived!

So, if ever you feel like beating yourself up over missing a workout or even desire a break—you will be fine!  If you value your health, you will make decisions that align with your goals for overall wellness.  There’s different ways to approach that but I’m here to say exercise isn’t the only way.