Do you know why there’s the concept of a ‘spring cleanse’ and the ultimate ‘summer body’? It’s because humans are human and we can’t maintain perfect health practices all the time. That’s why we have to keep starting again. It’s not because we failed, it’s just because that’s how things work. It’s all about the cycles.
We can go on diets, do boot camp, do 30-day wellness cleanses but none of this is sustainable and that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes you’re really good at eating your 5 serves of vegetables per day and sometimes left over pizza is lunch. It’s all about balance.
I’m fairly consistent with my health (I always exercise at least 5 times per week and I eat a fairly strict diet) but there’s wiggle room within those parameters. Winter will often see my daily steps drop dramatically (because cold and rainy and ugg-boot love affair) and what became a Saturday night treat of a sugar-free hot chocolate will slowly start becoming a nightly habit. Which sounds fine but replacing sugar with fake-sugar isn’t the best idea and I try to avoid that treat-every-day habit which tends to sneak up on me if I’m not paying attention. With spring approaching, I’m looking at what changes I can make to re-solidify my good habits. To be honest, I’m a total workaholic so I need to be stricter about sticking to my prescribed work hours of 9am to 6pm. So that’s a good place to start.
I also need to get better at the proverbial ‘switching off’ which I straight up suck at. I started crocheting as a way to ‘switch off’ but then I had to turn it into a business didn’t I? I spent all of Sunday writing and testing a pattern for my members and I was thrilled with what a relaxing Sunday I had… working.
I am a huge fan of the ‘work hard, play hard’ motto but as I’m currently pregnant, the ‘play hard’ part as dropped off. I used to love going out for dinner and drinking a few glasses of lovely wine but both of those things are hard to do when you’re pregnant. When you have to avoid soft cheese, raw eggs, raw fish and pre-cut salad it kind of takes the joy out of a fancy evening out. Being pregnant has also made me realise how much of my downtime relied upon food and alcohol. I can’t indulge in much of either of those things right now so I’m finding I have an abundance of time on my hands. Without spending several hours each week drinking wine with my mates (and avoiding the sneaky next day hangovers), my weekends feel longer, I get things done faster (and I was pretty bloody good at this to begin with). Don’t get me wrong, I’m fanging for a glass of Shiraz and a tipsy natter with my girlfriends but I’m really seeing the benefits of a life that’s not focussed around food/wine catch ups.
With this not-so-surprising discovery, I thought I’d use this experience to put together 10 ways to kick-start your new healthy habits… in case you’re in need of a bit of a kick up the bum.
1. Get more sleep
I used to have a nap most afternoons at around 3pm. I work for myself, so I can grab a quick 20 on the couch, no trouble. This is because my old sleeping schedule was midnight to 6am, which isn’t enough sleep. Since being pregnant, I’m now in bed most nights at 10am but I still get up at 6am and guess what? I don’t need a nap in the afternoon. I always thought I functioned fine on 6 hours of sleep (and aside from needing a nap, I really did!) but getting a full 8 hours has a made a huge difference. And yes, I know. I soon won’t be getting a full 8 hours but for those of you that have that option available to you, take it. It makes such a huge difference. Even if you think you function quite well on less.
2. Drink more water
I promise not all of these will be pregnancy related but this one kind of is. I’ve always been a good water drinker but you have to drink HEAPS more water when you’re pregnant and when you don’t, the signs of dehydration are amplified. Dark urine, headaches, low energy. I’ve had to set timers to remind myself to drink water. I use the Drink Water app and it’s a big help, especially on weekends when I don’t go to the gym. On weekdays I drink at least a litre during my workout and I’m good to go, on weekends I often reach lunchtime without having so much as a glass of water and I generally feel like rubbish. Water is magical. Drink it all.
3. Try a 30-day eating challenge
I’m not a massive fan of any cleanse that asks the participants to not eat solid food but I can totally get behind an eating challenge. I’m a big fan of The Whole 30 – I’ve done it a few times and it’s a really good kick starter to develop healthy habits. It’s not designed to be done forever, just 30 days to get you out of bad habits like drinking wine every day or having a big slice of banana bread every morning with your coffee. Mr Smaggle and I got into a very bad Nutella on gluten-free toast habit every night after dinner and we did the whole 30 to ditch it. It’s just a bit of a reset to remind you what good, nourishing food looks like. Hint: It’s not sour gummy squirms and cookie dough ice cream. That’s not to say you can’t have those things, just not every day.
Exercise, workout, engage yourself in any kind of activity that involves you moving your body on a daily basis, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. I’m a huge fan of morning exercise, but I know that’s not everyone’s bag. It actually doesn’t matter what you do, just move whenever you can. If I go to a mall, I’ll often park a few streets away and walk to the mall rather than fight for a car park. Since drinking catch-ups have been off the table I’ve been meeting girlfriends for walking dates. I can remember teaching a class years ago and I got given the ‘bad classroom’ that was a demountable room at the top of the hill. The principal apologised and said everyone had to take their turn having that classroom. I thought it was great! My butt looked amazing at the end of the year and it was fabulous for quick active sessions with my class when they were getting a bit ratty. I used to avoid moving as much as possible but I make an active effort to do it on purpose these days. If someone wants a cup of tea, I’ll get up and make it. If someone needs a letter posted, I’ll walk to the post office. I say yes to movement whenever I can and it’s made a huge difference to my physical and emotional wellbeing. I also sit at a desk all day so getting up and moving around is golden, so I take every opportunity I can to do it.
5. Really look at yourself
It’s super important for you to be able to figure out the things that work out for you and those that don’t, and you need to understand the reason why. Check out Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies quiz as a good place to start to figure out your motivation. That way you’ll know if you need accountability or something else to get you out the door to exercise. You also need to look at what works for your body. Some people thrive on low sugar, some people do really well on low carb diets. Experiment (safely and within reason) on yourself and find the best practices for you. A good thing to do is keep a journal of your energy levels if you start a new eating plan. That way you can gauge if it’s working for you. Eating plans and diets don’t always have to be about weight loss – they can just be about feeling your best. I started eating low carb/high fat to lose weight and now I just do it because it feels great. I have steady energy all day and sugar crashes are a thing of the past. It’s not about weight loss at all anymore, it’s about feeling good all the time.
6. Get inspired
I know everyone feels over inspired right now and there’s a whole ‘shut the hell up’ thing associated with posting to Instagram that you’ve been to the gym and had a kale smoothie but honestly? I love that shit. I keep myself motivated by following accounts that inspire me. I’m not a yoga/meditation fan so I follow lots of hardcore gym goers and meal preppers. Posts on healthy eating and body wellness keep me inspired. It may not work for you (particularly if you’re in a bit of a healthy habit rut) but it’s always worked for me. I often post about workouts and healthy eating on Instagram but I promise it’s not in an ass-holey way – I’m @smaggle if you want to follow along!
7. Meal prep
Full disclosure – I’m not currently participating in meal prep because of salmonella/listeria risks associated with pregnancy and also the smell of reheated food makes me want to spew right now but for everyone else, get into meal prepping. Earlier this year, I’d make enough lunches and dinners every Sunday to last us a week and that meant our kitchen stayed clean, we never had to cook during the week and we never wasted food. Meal prep is a winners game so start playing. Pop on a podcast and spend a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. It’s unbelievably pleasant. I promise.
8. Get new gear
If you’ve got saggy old running tights that fall down every time you do a tuck jump it’s time to treat-yo self. Exercise is hard enough, you don’t need to add to the pain by wearing uncomfortable clothes. Hot tip: Spend some good cash on quality stuff. I spent $160 on Lorna Jane tights almost a decade ago and they only just died on me. Worth every cent. I can’t really slam it at the gym unless I’m sure nothing is going to pop out when I do a burpee so it’s definitely an investment in my fitness to make sure my gear is comfortable and fit for purpose.
9. Setting goals
Try not to make these goals about weight loss, make them more tangible. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to be able to do a full set of unassisted chin-ups because I have rubbish upper body strength. I’ve had to shelve that goal for the moment (chin ups aren’t great when you’re pregs, especially if you sucked at them before you were pregs) but it’s still there ready to be picked up. When I first started F45 I had a goal of completing a whole class without taking a break. Once I smashed that goal my next goal was to do a whole class and pace match with the demo guy on the screen, which is a lot harder than it sounds. It made going to F45 with consistency much easier as I had something I could work towards and see the improvement.
10. Join forces
The most success I’ve ever had with fitness/diet is when I’ve had someone doing it with me. Mr Smaggle started eating high fat/low carb with me last year because he heard it was amazing for energy levels and because he eats the same way, it’s made it much easier to stick to. Never underestimate how important it is to have a partner in crime.