The New Year is a popular time to think about resolutions. I never was one to make resolutions because honestly they always felt too forced, and by nature are set up for failure. I recently listened to a great podcast (episode #186) by Cassy Joy of Fed & Fit on rethinking resolutions. Instead of general resolutions (such as “Drink more water” or “Lose baby weight”), she recommends first honing in on a value that is important to you, and then figuring out steps to achieving that value. For instance, instead of “I’m going to eat healthier,” a great resolution is “I am a healthier person.” This seemingly slight shift in wording actually conveys a more focused and driven attitude to attain what you want. By stating “I am a healthier person,” you can already visualize what that means now. You can visualize that you will be healthy not just for the month of January, but for the entire year. In essence, you resolve to be healthy. And it’s easy to see how this visualization can become your truth not only for the rest of the year, but for the rest of your life, which is the real reason we try to make resolutions to begin with, right? Cassy Joy, you’re a genius. This theme of visualizing your new reality has real power, and if you’re looking for a deeper look into it, I recommend reading You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.
In thinking about things this way, I too have been able to make concrete steps toward achieving my goals. Another critical aspect of goal-setting for me has been breaking down my larger goals into month-sized portions. It can be overwhelming to want to achieve some big, life-changing goals, and realistically we can’t simultaneously work on numerous changes everyday for 365 days and expect not to falter here and there. Instead of taking on too much all at once, it’s helpful to pick just one goal per month to work on and commit to daily. This idea is not original! I discovered this with the amazing Commit30 planner. I purchased one of these for 2018 and absolutely loved it, but sadly I lost it mid-year when I moved states. I pre-ordered a 2019 planner, and I have really found it to be helpful in focusing my energy and efforts towards my goals. It is also therapeutic and stress-reducing to plan my weeks out, to see what’s coming up ahead, to organize my ever-changing to-do lists in the margins, keep track of my workouts, and to mark the days where I met my personal goals. Another thing I started doing is writing down three or more things I am grateful for at the end of each day in my planner. This has really been beneficial for me, and I’m glad I started this practice. I highly recommend the planner for whatever your needs are, but if you’re going to buy it, you’ve got to use it!
Working on goal setting has got me thinking a lot about who I look to for motivation. One of my top 10 goals is to improve my health and fitness level. As this is ever-evolving (hint: it doesn’t end once I reach a target number on the scale!), I love following certain people and their social media accounts to keep me motivated, inspire me to do better, and provide me with tools and ideas for interesting workouts and healthy recipes. I wanted to share a few of my favorites here, since I’ve discovered a few new people since my initial health and fitness post. I’ve also included my favorite oldies but goodies =)
You may have seen me posting workout on my IG stories with #BBG. This is Kayla’s 12-week program which truly sparked the realization (for me) that strong > skinny. She has a whopping 10.9 million followers on IG!!! There are so many women (and BBG men!) out there who have followed her program and had amazing results. These positive results are not just physical but mental and emotional! Trust that you will get your butt kicked, but you will feel so proud of your progress and accomplishments as you go through the program.
Love. This. Girl. I’ve been following her for several years now and just love everything about her workouts and approach to health and nutrition. Like me, the girl has a HUGE appetite. But she eats intuitively and focuses on highly nutrient dense foods. She makes everything look absolutely delicious and never boring! She’s expecting her first baby now (in March), and I’m not ashamed to say that I am 100% emotionally invested, lol! She was a HUGE factor in my changing my diet several years ago, and I still learn so much from her videos.
This girl’s story rocks. Erica realized one day when her son wanted her to play with him, but she was too tired and overweight to want to, that she needed to make a change. She immediately joined a gym and worked on losing 150 pounds. 150 pounds! In the process, she opened her own gym, recently moved to a bigger gym, and hosts boot camps throughout the year. She looks strong, muscular and healthy, and she is a great role model of the benefits of exercise (again, not to get skinny but to get strong physically and mentally). She became an even better parent and role model for her son through her actions, and she is helping other women achieve their health and fitness goals! Sadly, she was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer and just underwent surgery, but she is such a strong, positive woman. I’m rooting for her!
This gal is in medical school and I love following her for her workout posts. I wish I knew a similar role model when I myself was in med school!
I also love this girl’s workouts! I tried one (finally), and it was killer. But amazing. I was really proud of myself for completing it, even with my modifications! She posts some great recipes and nutrition information too. The only thing I don’t like is the macro counting. I am pretty skilled at math (flash backs to AP calc), but I could never get my head around counting macros! I tried online calculators, but I got different breakdowns each time for protein, carbs, and fats. I did not want to mess with it and make a mistake that could have a detrimental impact on my health and weight. So I just went with my gut and continued eating what I craved in healthy, whole food versions. I don’t count calories or macros, and this has worked well for me.
I can’t believe I just found Pinkey last year! She’s Indian too, and I absolutely love seeing Indian women rocking fitness and nutrition. I also love her information for mothers and pregnant women! She talks about stuff no one ever tells you and that you basically learn by the seat of your pants (or by the seat of your Asian pear underwear, ha) after having a baby. Plus she’s a pharmacist. Just another badass Indian woman!
Another lovely Indian role model in the fitness world! Sonia is from Canada, and she’s got the sickest hair cut. I love it. I could never pull it off, but I love it! Her motivational quotations, circuit videos, and pics of her daughter brighten by days!
Neda’s IG page’s main focus isn’t nutrition and fitness, but she’s a fellow Temple grad and always posts her workouts! I love her drive, her largely healthy eating posts, and her travel photos. She always motivates me and we give each other high-fives on IG after workout posts!
Ronny’s IG stories are addictive and therapeutic. I also learn a lot from them (such as how to make bullet proof coffee, which is insanely creamy and delicious by the way, and how to easily remove sausage casings for my all time favorite soup). His music choices are on point also! He’s one of the few men I follow for nutrition and fitness inspiration. Also he is a new dad, and his little family is just adorable!
I loveeee the recipes from ChihYu! They are paleo Asian and oh-so delicious! I’ve made several of her recipes, and they never disappoint! P.S. coconut aminos are life (they taste exactly like soy sauce without the soy).
Yet another Indian woman crushing it! I love Ashley’s recipes because they are mostly gluten free, paleo, and Indian! (Hello 3 ingredient coconut flour naan!!!). Also, since her husband is Malayali, she posts a lot of Kerala recipes which I SO appreciate and love. All of her posts make me drool and want to go make what she posts right away! I made her paleo chicken pot pie soup a few weeks ago and it was amazinggggg!
My husband put it perfectly – Sadia’s recipes look like art. And though neither he nor I are vegan, we seriously want to eat every recipe she makes! Sadia is a registered dietician who turned her passion into the pickuplimes website, youtube, and IG. Her videos are choc-full of pertinent nutritional pearls and are so beautifully done. I love her incorporation of multiple sources of nutrients, colors, and flavors. If you want to be vegan, you need to be her type of vegan!
And a few that I keep going back to time and again for recipes:
@paleomg (recipes + fitness gold mine! I still listen to her podcast regularly and love it! She cusses a lot though, so maybe don’t listen with your kids around haha).
@fedandfit – I’ve made a number of Cassy Joy’s paleo recipes so far (like her Mongolian Beef and Lemony Kale). I especially love her podcast, and she comes out with great blog posts/series like “Cook Once, Eat All Week.” Cassy Joy’s middle name is just perfect for her because she is always so very joyful and upbeat! I love that about her.
I also really love Lexi’s vibe, and I’ve tried a few of her recipes which have been hits! I especially like that she has had weekly meal prep posts when I’m just drawing a blank on meal planning!
Podcasts (FREE, always):
Coffee & Kettlebells (podcast from the creator of @BurnBootCamp)
I absolutely love Burn Boot Camp which I joined when I was still living in NC. I love their mission! One of the mottos always posted on Burn’s wall was, “I don’t need a machine. My body is one.” This was such a perfect segwe for me from BBG because I eventually loved having a trainer and other women to workout with, to push me harder, and to keep me accountable. I was so sad when I was no longer physically able to do classes due to sicknesses while pregnant (but it is still pregnancy friendly with modifications for those who are well enough to do it!). It is a bit pricey, so I could not budget for it after moving, but I am hopeful to join again later this year! Anyway, the podcast is just a great mix of topics related to health, food, motherhood, and much more. I only discovered it in the past few weeks and am loving it!
Fed and Fit – see above
PaleOMG – see above
To end this post, I’m reiterating my prior tips and suggestions to start leading a healthier lifestyle. These have been crucial to helping me feel my best!
- A “clean” food has oneingredient. Examples: Carrots. Fish. Cashews. Mangos. So cupcakes are not clean, even if they are labeled with “healthy” terms like “gluten free,” “vegan,” etc.
- Read labels! Look at sugarcontent (not just carbohydates). The more fiber something has, the better. The less sugar something has, the better.
- Read ingredients lists. The fewer items, the better. The more words you recognize, the better. Or, choose clean foods and you know that each food has one ingredient — itself. Or instance, compare the ingredients in a jar of natural peanut butter (peanuts, salt) to the ingredients in a jar of Skippy.
- Use spices to season and flavor food.
- Shop around the perimeter of the supermarket and avoid the aisles where most of the processed foods are found. Around the perimeter is where you’ll find everything your body needs: veggies, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, dairy (if you want).
- Don’t drink processed juice. It’s just a bottle of sugar.
- Don’t drink soda. It’s just a bottle of sugar. Plus, it has no nutrients. Seriously, what is the point of soda??? Diet soda is sketchy too. Artificialsweeteners? No thanks.
- Avoid diet drinks and energy drinks.
- Aim to drink your body weight/2 in ounces of water daily. So if you’re 150 lbs, aim to drink 75 oz water daily at a minimum. Drink more when exercising.
- Find what motivates you. People on social media. A FitBit, apple watch, or other fitness tracker. A vision board. Pick something and make it part of your daily life so you are constantly motivated.
- Choose exercises that you enjoy doing. If you like it, you will work harder rather than wondering when it will be over already. If you enjoy something and don’t dread it, it will be easier to keep going. This goes for food too. If you hate carrots, don’t force yourself to eat them. Choose other foods, and choose a healthy variation!
- Get outside, even if you think it is too cold. Fresh air and sunlight do wonders for the body and mood.
- Listen to your body. Eat if you feel hungry, and stop when you are not hungry. Have you heard about Hara Hachi Bu? It means eating until you are 80% full and has been linked to long life spans of the Okinawans.
Here’s to a happier, healthier 2019!