Our Path to a Healthier Lifestyle

54 Comments

This is an important topic to me, so this is going to be a semi-long post!  Okay, let’s get started…

Way back in the day (seems like a million years ago!), when I was in grade school and into high school, I was a bit on the chunky side (probably about 10-12 pounds heavier than I am now).  It wasn’t until high school that I started to care about my weight.  So, probably about mid-way through high school, I decided to join the track team and began to lose some of the extra weight.  In the beginning of my college years, my mom and I did Jazzersize together and I bought some home workout DVDs.  Remember Mari Winsor & Winsor Pilates?  Well those were my very first at home workout DVD purchase (oh yeah…and I think I bought a workout DVD VHS [remember those days!?!] from Prevention too).  I can’t remember for sure, but I guess I was working out several days a week.

Also, I neversomewhat…okay actually looking back on it, I ate more fast food/junk food than I originally thought…I definitely ate my share of french fries, pizza, zebra cakes, Oreo cookies, snickers bars, soda (specifically root beer), also, Italian family = lots of pasta and bread…you get the picture?

Junk Food Collage

Also, when Justin and I started dating in my senior year of high school, we’d often go out to eat and, at that time, TGI Friday’s was our restaurant of choice (now we know better!).

T.G.I. Friday's

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I remember saying to my cousin one time…”as long as I’m working out, I can eat whatever I want!”   What was I thinking!?!  I definitely indulged more often than I should.   Ironically, I was a vegetarian at the time and thought I was being super healthy about it.  Looking back at it now, I was NOT eating the right type of foods and my diet was not well-balanced.  I was eating fried, processed and sugary foods…so NOT good!

Justin had also gained some weight during the years we started dating and was probably getting even less exercise than me.  A year prior to our marriage, he decided he wanted to lose weight before the wedding.  He literally cut out ALL junk food and starting lifting weights and working out regularly.  I’ve always admired him for his discipline during that time.  Cutting out the foods you love and are used to is NOT easy!  He did NOT cheat and stuck to his healthy eating plan.  I, on the other hand, was still enjoying my zebra cakes (probably more often than I’d like to admit) and really only exercised on occasion (e.g. biking, running, etc.).  Justin lost approximately 50 lbs, and was much happier and more confident in his own skin, and even more important, he felt better and had more energy.  It’s been 6 years and he’s been able to maintain his weight during this time.  He used (and continues to use) John Stone Fitness as a source of fitness information and motivation.

After Justin and I got married, I wised up and completely revamped my diet and exercise plan.  I began to workout on a regular basis and stuck to a schedule.  I began to care about what types of foods I put into my body and what types of foods we kept in the house (less temptation this way!).

Train hard... Then enjoy a well deserved rest!...

Photo credit: Tribesports

I am by no means trained in this area and do not consider myself an expert, but I wanted to share some of the things I (and Justin) do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I always eat breakfast…a healthy breakfast.  I’ve learned that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  What you eat for breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, so I start off eating the right foods.  I used to eat toaster cakes and sugary cereal…empty calories!  Now I start my day with a healthy meal which may include this or this protein smoothie full of fruits, veggies, chia or flax seeds or I may have PB Overnight Oats, Kashi cereal or a healthy egg wrap.

I exercise regularly.  Currently, I workout 5 days a week (I give myself Wednesday and Friday off).  I either go to Zumba, do an at home workout DVD, bike ride (especially in the summer months) or do another activity.  I make sure that my exercise routine not only includes cardio, but also some weight training (remember…muscle helps burn fat).  Working out is a big part of my life.  I do it for health reasons, but I also do it because I enjoy it.  It’s important to find a workout you love and that you look forward to doing.

Zumba for Japan

Photo credit: anujraj

I don’t deprive myself.  I’m NOT going to sit here and tell you that I don’t indulge in sweets (after all I do LOVE to bake!) or have pizza sometimes because…I DO!  And I’m NOT going to say that it isn’t hard during holidays or when you’re on vacation to be good all the time because…it IS!  I’m only human and I DO allow myself the occasional treat, but moderation is key.

Eating out.  As you already know, we like to eat out.  When we eat out, I typically stay away from fried foods and we rarely order dessert (every one in a while we do treat ourselves though).  To name a few examples, I tend to order salads, grilled chicken breasts with veggie sides or grilled salmon.

I eat snacks in between meals, which helps curve my hunger cravings and helps me not to overeat at lunch and dinner.  Especially when I’m at work during the week, I bring my snacks from home so I stay away from the office candy bowl (although I do sometimes succumb to temptation…ugh!).  My snacks of choice include an apple and a few almonds, some type of granola bar, veggies and homemade hummus, etc.

no candy
I’ve eliminated processed foods as much as possible.  I cook and Justin grills, so we always tend to make fresh foods for our meals.  Now…granted, I still like my granola bars and cereal (and won’t give them up!), but I try to buy ones that are organic and don’t contain a lot of sugar, fat, calories, etc.

Portion control!  This is key.  I try to eat ONLY what’s on my plate and not go back for seconds (admittedly, sometimes hard to do!).

I eat clean as much as possible.  I incorporate lots of  fruits and veggies in my diet, and eat lean meats (e.g. chicken breasts) and fish (e.g. salmon).

A wedding cornucopia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I drink water (and green tea) the majority of the time.  I don’t drink soda, juice or other sugar drinks.  I try to flavor my water with some lemon or mint.

Water Glass

So there you have it…these are the standards I try to live be on my journey to a healthier lifestyle.  It certainly isn’t easy all the time, but I do what I can and try not to get down on myself if I slip off the bandwagon sometimes.  I hope some of these tips are helpful to you and am curious to know…what do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

54 thoughts on “Our Path to a Healthier Lifestyle

  1. These are some really helpful hints and tips :)

  2. Eating breakfast and healthy snacks is SO important for me. These help to keep me fueled all day long and prevent me from over-eating for my “main meals.”

    And thank you for mentioning zebra cakes…I am not majorly craving them! ;)

  3. Oh the health atrocities I committed back in the beginning of journey to health – it makes me cringe just thinking about it. I remember being a vegetarian back in my late teens and thinking that I was being totally healthy just because I wasn’t eating meat. HA! Little did I know that subsiding solely on Mac ‘n Cheese and egg sandwiches probably wasn’t the best way to go about doing it. Ahh well, live and learn.

    All of your tips are really great, and they’re pretty much exactly what I do as well. The biggest one for me would probably be saying NO to deprivation. I tried the whole 100% clean eating thing before and, ironically enough, I just ended up unhealthier than ever before. Constantly having to deny ourselves what we want takes a huge toll on us mentally, which goes on to affect us physically as well. Besides… life’s too short not to enjoy cookies and ice cream every now and then :)

    • It’s so funny that you felt the same way as I did in regard to thinking being vegetarian was healthy but still eating unhealthy foods. I look back now and say to myself…what was wrong with me? I guess a lot of it had to do with lack of education on the subject at the time. Yes…no deprivation is a BIG one for me as well. I feel like it’s ok to indulge every once in a while because your’re right…life is too short! Thanks Amanda!

  4. Totally bookmarking this post, thank you! First of all, it is not easy. We are growing our own vegetables this year, so I’m eager to see how that turns out. But I can identify with a lot of this, like Friday’s-type food back in my ‘youth’ (haha). It’s good to think back to my early twenties in order to appreciate how well I eat now in comparison. But working out is my biggest struggle. I love being outside, and I know I always feel good afterwards, but I just can’t get a routine going. My only goal is to feel good in my body and be more fit- hoping I can get over my laziness soon!

    • Thanks Christy! You’re right…it’s NOT easy! Being healthy can be challenging at times, but it’s good to recognize what you need to do to be healthy and attempt to make those changes as best you can. Getting a workout routine down can be tough, but I tend to focus on the fact that I DO feel so much better afterwards and that helps with my motivation. Good luck with your goals! :-)

  5. This is such a great reminder for me! I’m still in high school, so I love learning from people who went through high school, faced the same challenges, and came out with wonderful results. Love these great tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Thank you :)

  6. Great post! It’s always a challenge to eat and live healthier. You’re off to a great start!

  7. I love reading what others do to stay healthy – I do a lot of the same things. I always always make sure to have healthy snacks on hand. One of the hardiest times for me is right when I get home from work, am starving and still have to make dinner! Healthy snacks are key! We also try to eat as little processed food as possible – and I feel so much better since we’ve made that a priority. But I’ll never give up eating dessert – moderation is key (and we definitely don’t have dessert every night)!

    • Thanks Ashley! Healthy snacks are a priority as well. I try to do a lot of my food prep on the weekend because it IS so hard to get home and cook after work. I won’t give up dessert either, so treats every once in a while is good!

  8. I really like these guidelines! I do all of these pretty much, except the snack and restaurant ones. I think I should really start carrying snacks with me, but I rarely think that far ahead. :P
    As far as going out to eat goes, I usually just order whatever I want because going out to eat is all about enjoying myself, and I don’t want to miss out on something delicious. ;) That being said, I tend to order on the healthier side anyway just because I really do enjoy eating healthily.

    • Thanks Maddy! Having snacks definitely makes things easier! It’s definitely hard to always eat healthy when going out to eat. I do splurge once in a while, but try to order healthy whenever possible.

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  14. Would love to try zumba–I need to build up the courage though. Or maybe do it at home. Probably going to do it at home. LoL! :-) Great post!

  15. These are great tips! We eat pretty healthy most of the time. I don’t keep a lot of junk food in the house…yesterday after trick or treating, my youngest son (who was the only one who went out…the teenagers weren’t that interested) said to me, “you know, I don’t really like candy that much anymore.” Shock!! I do tend to indulge when we eat out though because that’s the only time I get those really rich foods!

  16. I am really impressed at everything you do, I wish I had that kind of self-control! I definitely am not as healthy as I would like to be. I have a really big sweet tooth (albeit, I don’t buy much junk food, it’s more when I’m out of the house). I actually grew up with sugary cereals, soda at dinner, and lots of snacks at the house; most of that stuff I no longer buy, but I’m pretty amazed I was as skinny as I was as a kid considering some of what I ate! I do love group exercise (especially Zumba), but I do find it’s hard sometimes to motivate myself to get out.

    • I totally get it that it’s hard to go out an exercise after a long day of work or whatever. But on those days when I don’t go to Zumba, I do workout DVDs at home. I also remind myself how good I feel after exercise and that definitely helps with motivation!

  17. I like to buy small dishes and it helps with portions. Recently I found out I was gluten-intolerant. I don’t really miss the bread but I do miss a crunch so celery, carrots, and corn chips help. A well written blog and nice illustrations. Enjoy your SITS Day.

  18. I do the same as you – eat as clean as I can, make my snacks mini meals, and stay away from junk. I have also trained my inner voice to speak nicely to me; instead of calling me names when I eat something that isn’t used as fuel for my body, I set the intention that I will make better choices the next meal and stick to the mantra, “at least I’m doing something about it.”

  19. Great post! I started eating clean a few years ago, as I became more serious about running. I don’t eat dairy, gluten, barely any sugar and I buy organic meat. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my energy and my aches and pains. The longer the unhealthy stuff is out of my system, the less I am tempted by it. Pizza was the hardest to give up! I have to say, my grocery bill is definitely higher, but I feel healthier–that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make!

  20. Great tips! That kind of living is what I strive for! It must help a TON to have your Hubby on board! I’m working on baby steps with mine – he now hides his candy in the basement and doesn’t tell me about it, but he does persuade me to cheat way too often! It’s a process and we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last year.

    New follower from SITS!

  21. Really good ideas! Happy Sits Day!

  22. I struggled for years over eating breakfast. I know how important it is, but I’m not a huge breakfast food fan. At least not the stuff that counts as healthy breakfast foods. I finally figured out how to make fruit and veggie smoothies at home in place of a meal. It’s great since I start my day with 1 serving of veggies and 2 servings of fruit and the protein from Greek yogurt keeps me feeling full.
    Over from SITS.

  23. Stopping by from SITS…..This post was so helpful and enjoyable! I’m on a quest to healthier eating, now I just need to get on the bandwagon and exercise! Thanks for the great tips and for sharing what works for you!

  24. Happy SITS Day! This was a great post. I have a lot of the same habits you have, but the thing I need to work on the most is drinking more water! I was pretty clueless in college as I would eat all fat free foods (and think I could eat as much as I wanted). That catches up to you real quickly, though, and now we eat six times a day, always eat breakfast, eat snacks, eat high protein/fiber meals, and get exercise.

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    Have a great weekend!

  25. I love how flexible you are and how you never say “NEVER!” I, too, recently lost over 40lbs by watching what I ate and working out for 40 minutes a day, five days a week. I cannot say no to some foods, especially around the holidays. Eating in moderation and balancing my week out with heavy days/lights days helps keep my weight in check! I’ve managed to keep it off and am so excited to have found your blog. Happy SITS day! New follower~!!

  26. Portion control is key for me! I also drink a lot of water and try to use lemon in it as much as possible. Visiting from SITS!

  27. It’s funny you mention exercising with your mom. I used to try & encourage my mom to do the Cindy Crawford tapes with me (all those lunges were helpful!). You offer lots of great advice. Portion control is so important. And I’ve learned the hard way that nutrition is half the game – I’ve always been active with my workouts but not so much with the diet, working on improving it now.

  28. I have difficulty with portion control. Thank you for all of the tips & Happy SITS Day!

  29. Great advice! I never drink enough water, I think that is killing my weight loss journey.

  30. Great post! I am right along with ya on a few of these…I know that I have to increase my strength training. Looks like you did the Color Run, I did it here in Pittsburgh last month – it was awesome. Happy SITS Day again and I am going to subscribe to your blog!

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