Learning to Live Well

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


During the past two years, I've become much more conscious of my lifestyle as it pertains to health and fitness. I still feel like a total novice in this area, but considering where I started there's actually been a lot of progress in this department. The biggest change has simply been becoming more mindful of my health and knowing that "feeling fine" isn't exactly an indicator of good health. This realization has led me to dive a little deeper into what health and fitness actually mean.

Spoiler alert: it's a little more than being skinny or avoiding the common cold.

Caring for the body is a lifestyle, one that most of our American culture doesn't support. I feel like I've just taken the first few steps towards living well, but it is a process I'm very interested in and excited to explore more.

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One of the biggest changes I've made in the past two years is starting to track macros. This post does a good job of explaining what that entails. It started from a desire to find a more sustainable way of healthy eating after doing a few Whole30s but always falling hard into the junk food afterwards. Full deprivation from treats or sugar doesn't work well for me.

Tracking macros not only opened my eyes to the nutrition -- or lack thereof -- that's in certain foods, but it has helped me fit foods I love into my diet while still getting a proper amount of carbs, fats, and proteins. Most importantly, counting macros has helped me see the quality of the calories I'm ingesting instead of just the numerical amount. You'd be surprised how many seemingly healthy foods fall short of the mark in terms of nutrition.

Diet plays a large part in weight goals, but I've become fascinated with how much our diet affects every part of our body, including our brain and gut. Studies have shown that gut health is directly related to 90% of all diseases which is mind-blowing to me! I've learned to check labels and avoid foods that are full of ingredients I can't pronounce, especially when there are so many healthy, chemical-free alternatives available. That said, I think it's good to be honest and realize that I'm never going to cut sugar out of my diet completely. It's not feasible or, honestly, necessary for me. My goal is to keep my body healthy enough that a treat here and there won't hurt it.

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The food we put into our bodies is just one part of living well; how we move and strengthen our bodies is another important aspect. I was shocked when I got my first Fitbit two years ago and saw how little I moved during the day. That led to a gradual progression of exercising and learning to love it. This was the biggest lifestyle change for me, by far! I went from short walks only to a structured cardio & resistance routine in the course of two years. I wrote a little bit about my exercise journey here. For me, exercise is a way to get strong, not skinny. I've always been a relatively skinny person, but never strong. I'm constantly amazed when I workout at the things my body has become capable of doing. That's not to say I don't get exhausted and sweaty from a workout like everyone else, but there are certain things that I simply could not do a few years ago that I can today and that just makes me proud. You never know how much your body is capable of until you feed it and treat it right.

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I've just started down this road and could use a lot of improvement in a lot of areas, but simply being mindful is a great first step. If you're a wellness junkie like me or are interested in learning more in this area, here are a few educational sites and podcasts I would recommend. The idea of "wellness" seems to have exploded lately and there's so much information out there. The best advice I received, and will pass onto you, is to do your research and know your why. Don't just do something that's supposed to be "healthy" because everyone else is doing it. This stuff is fascinating to read about, but make sure you're doing what's best for your body.

Websites
Dr. Axe - lots of informative articles on gut health
The Chalkboard Mag - wide range of articles from nutrition to workout clothes

Podcasts
True Health Made Simple Podcast - (one of my most listened to podcasts), easy-to-understand episodes on how to meet the body's requirements and live truly healthy

Instagrams
@fitasgluck - a super fun chick with great info on gut health and exercise
@thethirty - a website that takes a real approach to wellness

Blogs
HBFIT - a new-to-me blog that I've been devouring, lots of interviews with healthy girl bosses

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