A little over a year ago, I was at a point where I felt very frustrated and just fed up and uncomfortable in both my body and my mind. I had some nutritional knowledge and always knew that my lifestyle choices weren’t serving my body positively, and I had always felt uncomfortable with my weight. But when I started noticing that my mental health was dwindling too, that really kickstarted my desire to make a transformation.
I had never really experienced any kind of anxiety before and hadn't ever seen myself as an anxious person. But what I did experience, I didn't like. So I wanted to find ways to deal with it. I ended up seeing a mental health counselor for a bit, and it was during those sessions that I started to realize I needed to actually start taking care of myself mentally, which meant taking care of myself physically too. I remember my counselor saying to me, "It seems as if your mind and body aren't connected." I knew she was right and that I needed to make a change.
It took some time for me to eventually step into my own self-worth.But once I realized that I deserved to be a healthy human being living a happier, healthier lifestyle, it was easier to make the lifestyle changes I wanted to.
I started by implementing lots of small habits every day and being consistent with them.
Having discipline and being patient have been two of the most important parts of my process. I'd tried to lose weight before. But this time around I had a stronger, deeper, more meaningful reason for making healthy choices than just wanting to look good physically, which is what allowed me to stay consistent with these healthy habits:
- Eating more whole foods and less processed foods
- Exercising and moving my body regularly
- Drinking lots of water
- Practicing mindful eating
- Practicing self-care
And when I noticed that making healthier choices every day improved my health both mentally and physically, that kept me going and sparked consistent change. So while weight loss was a goal of mine, my main goal was very much to become a healthier, happier and more energized individual, internally and externally, now and in 50 years time.
But the most important thing I did was change my *mindset* around food, fitness, and health.
That’s where the magic was. I became grateful for my food and realized that I’m fortunate and privileged to be able to make healthy choices every day. Not everyone is in a position to eat healthy, clean, or unprocessed foods.
I also made it a point to practice positive self-talk and started being grateful for what my body had always been, what it was back then, and everything it was going to be. I stopped letting “slip-ups” lead me into a downward spiral of guilt and trained myself not to think of my days as “good” and “bad,” but rather just another day of eating. And I realized that there will be plenty of opportunities in my lifetime to indulge—and I don’t need to take every single one.
I had also tried so many diets in the past, so I knew that wouldn’t work this time around.
Instead of following a "diet" in the traditional sense, I focused on eating more whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. I ate less of the hidden sugars in things like salad dressings, cook-in sauces, dips, and marinades and started making my own with more natural, unprocessed ingredients. And I made it a point to drink more water. I mean, the second I woke up, I downed up to a liter of water and constantly had a water bottle with me throughout my day.
I also cut down on dairy. But I never restricted myself to any food groups or favorite foods, as this had never worked in the past. If I felt like a pizza, I’d eat the pizza. I just wouldn’t eat the whole thing and I’d eat it less often.
Becoming more aware of portion sizes and calories made me realize that I was eating way more than my body actually needed. And by combining portion control with a diet of mostly whole, nutritious, functional foods, that's what allowed me to feel my strongest, healthiest, and happiest, and ultimately helped me reach my health goals.
Here's what I typically eat in a day.
- Breakfast: Fruit smoothies with superfoods, boiled eggs with avo and smoked salmon, oats with nut milk and fruit, or seed bread with nut butter and sliced banana.
- Lunch: Salad bombs (a.k.a. big bowls of functional goodness consisting of at least six different colored veggie-like ingredients). I usually like to mix in a protein like chicken, tuna, or beans and a healthy fat like avocado or nuts, and sometimes sweet potato, butternut, or pumpkin.
- Dinner: Hearty, home cooked soups, chicken and veggies, or fish and veggies.
- Snacks: Fruit (bananas, berries, apples, pineapple, papaya, kiwis), nuts and seeds, veggie sticks with homemade hummus, dark chocolate, nut butters on crackers or with fruit, or dates.
I also started exercising consistently, usually five or six times a week.
Before my journey started, I never worked out on a regular basis. I’d do a program for a few weeks and then not work out for another three weeks, then workout for two weeks and not workout for the next month. It was the consistent, regular exercise five or six times a week that made all the difference.
I started off doing Kayla Itsines BBG and BBG Stronger program. I just followed everything she said. I noticed that when I started doing her resistance workouts together with HIIT and LISS workouts that I started noticing a difference physically.
I also saw a personal trainer for six weeks about eight months into my journey because I wanted to learn a little bit more about form and how to do slower, more intentional movements. About a year in, I started attending barre classes too.
Now, I workout six times a week, which consists of doing a lower body resistance workout, an upper body workout, three barre workouts and a run (usually between four and six miles).
I’ve lost a total of 42 pounds in a little over a year, but it wasn’t always easy.
Doing the “heart work” and finding my *why*—the deep, meaningful, strong reason for wanting to lose weight—was the key to my successful weight loss journey. Your why should be so meaningful to you that nothing else will get in your way or hold you back. For me, I wanted to be an equally happy and healthy version of myself.
And because of that, throughout this journey I've learned more than just how to eat well. By practicing self-love, self-care, and positive self-talk, I learned how to accept and love my body for what it has been, what it is now, and everything it will become. Once you start loving your body more, you’ll want to take care of it more and healthy habits will become easier because you genuinely want the best for yourself.