Getting fit can never be done just by working out, it’s a fact! And mind you, I am not talking about just food here. It’s a web of causation. Multiple factors working together in an alignment to ensure a better fitness level and your overall health.
Honestly, I am not going to tell you what to do, not the expert! But what I can do is share the exhaustive list of lifestyle changes I have made so far that helped me in my fitness journey. There’s always less or more that you can do. For now I am happy with whatever I am doing and getting good enough results in my overall health. Some of you may feel tempted to give me suggestions (and have over DMs, which is very sweet) like try Keto, quit Gluten, become vegan and so on but honestly, why fix it when it ain’t broken. I know my limits especially when it comes to diet for example, I believe in moderation and not total restriction. I mean if at 30 I quit everything I like to eat or relish, then when am I going to live! Especially when moderation works perfectly fine for me. So you know, these things vary person to person. I can’t and I won’t suggest you anything. However, since a lot of you guys asked, here’s what it is I did:
I cut down on my intake of outside food.
I still eat out, but I have capped it for three meals max in a week. It works perfectly for weekends or if I am meeting people over lunch or dinner. For catching up with friends, I try to keep it to just coffee (almond milk and very less sugar) to avoid any extra intake of junk. Rest of the days/meals I cook at home. But does that mean I only have simple home cooked meal? No I cook everything, from noodles to pasta to chicken and the extravagant Indian dishes (you’d know if you see my insta-stories) but I make sure the balance of the week is maintained in terms of what I am eating overall throughout the week. The best way to do that is plan your meals ahead to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Sit down on a weekend to plan you meals for the following week and buy the groceries accordingly.
I cut down on my alcohol intake.
I won’t deny, I love having a drink once in a while. But instead of going crazy bar hopping and having 20 drinks in a row (maybe once or twice a year of that at the most) every weekend, I keep things more rational. I am also now a smart drinker. I pick my drink wisely (hard liquor vs wine vs beer vs cocktails vs which cocktail, you see what I mean) and hold on to it longer. Giving yourself a limit for units that you can consume in a week, is the best approach to work on when cutting down your alcohol intake over time. That’s how I did it.
I cut down on my sugar intake.
I have a sweet tooth and hence the cavities haha, seriously no kidding! But I have realised how addictive sugar is. It’s a fact, you have something sweet for two days and you’re automatically craving sweet on the third. If you keep giving in to this craving, gradually the frequency and amount of intake increases. That’s where you have to break the cycle. I don’t do any ‘no sugar days’ but keep it in moderation when giving in to my cravings once in a while. Potion control FTW!
I started eating fruits.
When I was living with my parents, till my college, my mom would literally force feed me fruits. Once I moved out, initially to pursue masters and then I got married, somewhere in between I stopped eating fruits at all. I am sure a lot of you would be able to relate to this. So I started eating fruits again. I try to eat at least two or three different kinds of fruits everyday. Since everyone already knows how small frequent meals help keep the metabolism high, there’s nothing better than fruits or raw vegetables for snacking for the same. They also work as good pre or post workout meal (depending on which fruit/vegetable it is). I don’t need to list the health benefits of fruits, you all know that already! P.S. having fruits helps me keep my sugar intake down to minimum.
I started having more dry fruits.
Literally same as above besides dry fruits being a good source of protein and energy to help me with my workouts!
I am trying to sleep better.
I am not fully there, but I am trying to have a proper 7 hours (at least 6 hours) sleep everyday. Sleep deprivation, irregular sleep cycle, or not sleeping, makes you not just gain weight, messes up your metabolism but also your hormones which can further mess up your system.
Having a personal time.
I think having a me time, for your overall health, is very underrated. I try to give myself one or two hours everyday where I am not thinking about anything, like a stress-free time. I don’t think about any existing issues (well we all have our own ongoing issues to deal with no matter how easy one’s life may look like on social media haha) or problem, or check my social media. I would probably just sit in my balcony, or walk down for a coffee or just watch random light stuff on TV. That small mental break is very important for overall health I believe. Stress is bad when you’re trying to get fit and this helps me deal with my stress by giving my brain a break and focus on the right things in life including my fitness journey.
I keep my metabolism high.
Frequent small (healthy) snacks, lots of water, green tea at least twice a day and infused water as much as I can! I have also started consuming more (no added sugar & preservative) juices. I try to stay active as much as I can during the day.
Few things/ habits I have, that I’d like to mention:
I don’t drink carbonated/aerated drinks like coke, pepsi etc. Maybe one glass in 3 months and I am not exaggerating. This is how I have been all my life about carbonated drinks. At home it’s water/infused water and outside it’s mostly unsweetened or minimally sweet iced tea.
I don’t drink hot coffee or tea, green tea is my beverage or my almond milk cold coffee.
I don’t consume milk, almond milk it is for me. But it doesn’t mean I am off dairy. I love curd, have cheese once in a while and so on.
As of now, I am not consuming any protein shakes or supplements. I am still trying to have all that I need through my diet. For example, for now I need to up my protein intake so I am trying to have more pulses/lentils or eggs. I am pretty old school that way, trying to get the most I can get out of my diet first and then think of anything else.
Never go grocery shopping hungry, at least I try to most of the times. If I go grocery shopping hungry I’ll literally end up picking crap like candies, cookies and frozen food. It just happens. So I try to do it post lunch/dinner most of the times.
Reading labels. I never thought I’d be that person but I read labels of everything I intend to buy and/or consume. You must know what you are feeding your body, and once you start feeding your mind with the info at the back of that cereal box, you’ll eventually start making the right choices. Every small thing counts!
As you can see I am not killing myself with diets or restrictions to ‘lose weight’, I am just sticking to moderation when it comes to my lifestyle habits besides working out for at least four (usually five) days a week. I hope this post answers a lot of your questions or serves as an inspiration, even if tiny bit, to make better choices.
I’ll be back soon with another post!