While the start of a new year can provide tons of liberation and inspiration, it can be easy to fall prey to the pressure of keeping your number one resolution, which for most, is a combination of working out and dieting. Self-care is all the rage these days, but it’s crucial to remember that your mindset when changing these routines should be equally as healthy as the body you are aspiring to achieve, if not better! As we progress through the year, let’s keep this mindset going forward: You can improve your physical and mental health without body-shaming yourself. Below are some of the best ways to keep your headspace clear and healthy during your journey.
Unfollow Accounts that Make You Feel Bad and Follow Those That Make You Feel Good
Is that Instagram model with the perfectly toned body and lavish lifestyle making you doubt your own life? Unfollow. Are those fitness accounts that talk about calorie-counting and portion control making you skip out on eating dinner in hopes of curbing your appetite? Unfollow! Because we’re constantly on social media, scrolling through the highlights of people’s lives and following people whose lives seem so glamorous, it comes as no surprise that we get caught up in envying how perfect other people’s lives are and forget that ours are just as special.
Instead, look for accounts that spread positive messages when it comes to body image and health – Bonus points if it can provide healthy recipes that will inspire you to try eating food that is both good for you and tasty! In order to get going on our path to healthier bodies and lives, we have got to fix our mindsets and feed it positive things. Some of my favorite Instagram accounts for inspiration are @thrivingonplants, @frommybowl, and @amandavsevilla. Not only do these accounts post beautifully curated pictures of their food and provide recipe ideas, but they spread a positive message about how to nourish your body with food that is healthy for you and provide facts about what kind of nutritional value you will receive from these recipes. I find myself frequenting their pages when I’m looking for inspiration for my next meal or some motivation to remind myself why I’m on this journey to health.
Pick a Veggie to Center Your Diet Around
Dieting often has a negative connotation to it, where in which you drastically cut calories and eat unappetizing foods in order to see results. But when healthy foods are worked into your diet in appealing ways, dieting becomes less of a task, and healthy eating becomes a lifestyle.I know this sounds silly, but I have a feeling that most of us would pick a fruit over eating vegetables, and while fruits are great, veggies have a tendency to be far more nutrient packed. Veggie options are endless, so picking which vegetables taste good to us might be one of the scarier parts of kickstarting a healthier lifestyle, but it’s all about positively introducing nutrient-dense foods into our normal eating routines in order to keep us on track.
Personally, I picked baby spinach as my vegetable of choice. I know it’s a superfood and is full of nutrients such as iron, calcium, and magnesium, but I also know that it has a neutral taste that I’m able to incorporate into a lot of my meals. I can blend it into a green smoothie for breakfast, sauté it with my pasta and rice dishes, and I can use it as a base for salads if I’m feeling really healthy.
Focus Less on Quantity and More on Quality
Plain and simple, it’s time to appreciate the food that you are eating and the nutrition that it is giving you. It’s easy to see a huge bowl of food and become automatically scared that eating so much will trigger weight gain. However, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between eating a huge bowl of refined sugars and simple carbs and eating a huge bowl of produce, grains, and proteins. It’s important to remember that in order for your body to stay on its path to success, it must be well-nourished, and once the body has all the nutrients it needs, the brain soaks up some of that love as well.
It personally took me years to realize that food is my friend. While going through the trials and tribulations of becoming a woman, I struggled with forming healthy eating habits which eventually led me to suffer from an eating disorder. Take it from me: if you are hungry, eat, and make sure that food is doing good for you in some way or another.
Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself
Dieting doesn’t mean that you can’t ever eat a cupcake or your beloved McDonald’s fries ever again. In fact, eating these things could even be part of your normal diet, as long as you understand the practice of moderation. For example, I really love French fries. Put me anywhere in the world, and I will find some fries before I find any other food. But because I’m trying to stick to my fitness goals, I’ve decided to compromise with myself. If I walk home instead of taking the subway or an Uber and happen to pass by a joint with good fries, I can get the fries. But if I’m taking any sort of transportation, I’m going straight home and cooking myself something healthy to eat. I’m learning to not restrict what I can or can’t eat while understanding that healthier, nutrient-dense foods should account for most of my diet.
If you want to indulge, indulge, and most definitely do not beat yourself up over it. The body and mind will always welcome some TLC.
Write Yourself Love Letters
I used to think it was cheesy to write mini love letters onto sticky notes and tape them onto the mirror, but since trying it out, I can honestly say that my life has improved. When you focus less on the negativity and stresses from the outside world, you are able to hone in on yourself and see what kind of care you need.
The next time that you’re naked in front of the mirror and inspecting every angle about yourself, speak good things about yourself out loud. Not only will you receive the benefit of saying it out loud, but you are literally telling the universe and yourself that this is who you are, and this is how you feel about yourself.
It’s not unusual to feel discouraged during the fitness journey, but in order to combat these negative thoughts and feelings, a simple love letter to yourself can protect your energy while going through these changes.
Feature image Vanessa Granda