Let me first start this post stating loud and clear that I hate food guilt and do not condone it. I can’t remember if I made posts that give food guilt back when I was sixteen and stupid but if I have I apologise. This post is barely about food anyway, writing health / fitness / ‘diet’ posts can feel shady af because I am the last person who wants to give a ‘you shouldn’t eat this‘ or ‘here are healthy alternatives because don’t ! have ! the ! full ! fat!‘. If you want to go for the healthy alternatives of your fave foods go for it, but not out of food guilt. This post is just about the changes I’ve made mental and physical health wise that have left me feeling better about myself, I’m not even telling you these changes will give you some kind of result in your body like ~killa abs~ or a ~peachy bum~, but these have helped me feel happy and healthy so I want to share them in the hope that they do the same for you.
wear clothes that make you feel good, not clothes deemed ‘appropriate for your body shape’
Outlets are forever pushing articles about which bikinis to buy for your Summer holiday depending on your body shape, what jeans go best for someone with a pear shape vs someone with an apple shape – you get the idea. Don’t let these ‘recommendations’ trick you into thinking you’re going to look bad in a certain top just because that brand said it was best for a different body shape to yours and you’re worried it’s going to make you look bad. I’ve never been into wearing comfy clothes, joggers, pyjamas or loungewear type stuff because I’ve felt like they don’t show any shape. But being comfy makes me feel good, so I’m now happy to walk around my flat in pyjama pants looking like the lower half of me is wearing a clown costume because I feel better in them. I love the selection of these women’s joggers because they have a slimmer fit to get rid of that loss-of-shape issue I once had, and there are some hella trendy ones like the cropped wide leg joggers, so it makes for a nice transition into the unknown waters of joggers.
Also, don’t get me wrong, lots of us have certain lil insecurities and hang ups about our bodies and it can become pretty easy to stop wearing anything that shows off that part more than you want. You’ll be surprised at how flattering something can be despite it being something you might usually avoid wearing. I have a bit of a complex about my arms, I don’t think they’re big and I really don’t want to be out here criticising a part of my body when someone could compare it to themselves and it can make them feel insecure. I just end up avoiding buying vest tops when I can because I know that, although I do still sometimes wear them because the complex isn’t that deep, I’ll get much less wear out of them. However, I recently got this from Brandy after umm-ing and ahh-ing about it for a good while due to my arm complex and I feel damn good in it. I know that there are people who I personally would deem look ‘better’ in it than me but comparison is the devil and the thief of joy, I feel good about it so I’m not going to wonder if I’d feel better if I was that model on Instagram wearing it.
start the day off with something other than coffee
Ya girl over here is the biggest coffee addict going. There was a point last year where I would shake if I didn’t have two coffees a day, and if I didn’t have a coffee at all in the morning I would have a pounding headache by about 1PM. Now, I’m not one for the word detox because to me it connotes those skinny teas you see all over Instagram and ridiculous juice fasts, but of course it means other things than just hi drink this flavoured stuff for a week and don’t eat a single piece of solid food and you’ll lose x amount of pounds in x amount of days. I saw this detox drink on one of Lydia Millen’s vlogs a couple months back and thought I’d try it out because it seemed pretty good, it’s essentially a souped up version of the hot water and lemon my mum has been drinking every morning for as long as I can remember. Omg, I fell in love. I find it hard to enjoy smoothies and juices (with natural ingredients) because I’m pretty picky about what tastes I like and don’t like and think go well together so I wasn’t expecting to get on well with this but it’s so yummy and takes less time to make than waiting for my coffee machine. The best bit, I feel so much better in the mornings and am better equipped to go about my day when I’ve started it with this rather than coffee. I feel more refreshed and less sluggish when I drink this first thing in the morning. I can drink this and then have a coffee straight after and it still makes me feel a million times better than missing out this drink and starting with a coffee. I don’t drink this as a ~detox~ in the make me less bloated and make my food digest quicker way, it just makes my insides feel good because I’m getting some nice natural stuff in me rather than a full on caffeine fix first thing. Again, this isn’t a guilt thing, I’m not telling you to go drink this so that you’ll have a flat stomach and glowing skin, I just feel more nourished inside and that helps me a lot on the outside.
stop worrying about what others will think
This one works in so many different ways. 1) If you want to make a change health-wise, you will never be able to do it unless it’s for yourself. That killa ‘revenge body’ you want to get to make your ex regret ever breaking up with you? Unless it’s something you want for yourself it’s going to be much harder to achieve it if it’s just to impress someone other than yourself. 2) The same as if you have a health condition you know is worsened by alcohol / smoking / a certain type of food / caffeine, you’ll never be able to give it up unless you truly want to. Even if your family members plead with you, it’s hard to commit unless you’ve made the decision for yourself that you will stop. The way I’m looking at it is 3) don’t worry about judgement from others for your food / health / exercise choices. If you want to order three Big Macs whilst everyone else is getting a salad don’t worry about whether they’ll be judging you for making a different choice, the same goes for the reverse. If all your friends want Maccas but you want to wait until you’re home to make your own food so you can control what’s being put in it, don’t worry about them thinking you’re some health freak who looks down on people who eat burgers. I can be guilty of this in the gym, avoiding areas with proper hench people lifting heavy af weights when I’m just there to use a bench to do my 4kg dumbbell exercises, but when I realised that I needed to face my fears and just go to that area of the gym otherwise I wouldn’t be able to complete the workout that makes me feel good, I felt even better mentally than physically because, yes, I was getting to do a key part of my workout but more importantly to me, I got over my fear of judgement in that department.
if your inspo or fitspo is making you feel more unhappy than motivated, change it
The majority of stuff I do at the gym, and pretty much everything I do with my PT, is weight based rather than cardio. And I’ve never been able to go every day and lift heavy af weights because it doesn’t fit my schedule and by going less often it takes me longer to progress and reach new personal bests. So the lack of cardio and abundance of weight training means that I’m not going to be super slim. I think this is where a lot of my previously mentioned arm complex comes in – mine aren’t just one thin width all the way down, they’re bigger at the top than my forearm because it’s where I build muscle, but because I don’t get to build this muscle every single day they’re also not toned to the max. This makes it super easy for me to compare other girls’ arms in photos compared to mine in photos and makes it easy for me to forget that it’s muscle and that it’s there because I want to be stronger and fitter rather than change my body to be as slender as possible. It also doesn’t help that as a child I was always deemed ‘skinny’, I’m super petite and have a super small build so before I got to my teen years I had a very small, very thin frame and a very high metabolism. But having it highlighted all the time as a child that I was ‘skinny’ (and that this was a positive thing) made me super insecure when I got older and developed a shape and got curves like every woman does. Being the ‘skinny’ girl had been my identity all throughout primary school and then when that was taken away from me I felt rank. This is why I think the word skinny is as damaging as the word fat (when fat is used to describe someone’s body not a food group). So I changed my fitspo, as I’ve been watching more and more women’s tennis since getting the channel for it last Autumn, I’ve been noticing how all my favourite players have biceps and triceps noticeably bigger than their forearms, and it’s made me feel better about mine being the same way. Ok, not exactly the same, I don’t make a career out of using my arms to hit a ball with a racquet so I’m not quite as athletically toned and inclined. But changing who I saw as exemplary helped me feel more motivated to carry on toning rather than making me feel like I should instead be trying to lose weight that I was imaging was there.
prioritise and make good use of your time
I feel better mentally when I’m being productive, but I need to balance this with having time to chill out otherwise I feel exhausted. I can’t have a day working on something from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep, neither can I have a day where I do nothing at all. Both extremes make me feel awful, both mentally and physically. I’m someone who needs their own space and loves solo downtime, but too much of it seriously messes with my head. Striking the right balance is something I need to do when I’m at uni or I will go out of my mind in the confines of my tiny bedroom that looks like it’s more of a clinical hotel than student accom. If I have a long day in uni then I won’t do any work when I get back because I’ve spent all day doing it. If I have a day off or only have one lecture, I’ll get up early, head to the gym, get blog posts written and uni work done, and then finish off with an evening of doing nothing other than eating dinner and watching TV. See when you feel most productive, for me this is in the mornings or under serious time pressure because I’m the biggest procrastinator ever, and plan your workload for this time, then you can have your less productive time there to just do nothing, and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you already got all your work done and don’t have to push yourself to do it at a time where you’re not feeling it. Waking up early, going to the gym, and coming back to my flat to watch an episode of Modern Family over breakfast before getting started with blog and uni work is my idea of a well structured weekend so I try to do this as often as possible whilst still allowing some weekends for the want to sleep in, the laziness of not wanting to leave for town so early, and going out the night before. Find your ideal structure and stick to it but allow yourself days to not stick to it and don’t beat yourself up about it when you go against it.
So that’s everything that’s been making me feel better inside and out. I find addressing topics like this difficult because, as I said, I don’t want to give people a feeling of guilt if they don’t eat a certain way or work a certain way or go to the gym or if I start criticising myself and that impacts someone else.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health, but sometimes focusing on the physical can make you feel better in your mind too. Endorphins af.
I hope these things will help you feel better and healthier inside and out!
post in collaboration with jack wills. all words, thoughts and opinions are my own.