I would definitely have to say my fitness and nutrition journey is something I am still discovering and, I suppose, it’s something that never stops developing. Growing up I was never interested in sports and was always picked last for the team - which only added to my dislike for group exercise. Instead of working out to stay slim or maintain my health I chose to alter my diet instead. Throughout the years I have tried every fad on the market; low calorie, low fat, juice cleanse, tea detox, cabbage soup, Dukan, you name it I’ve done it. Obviously this resulted in an immediate weight-loss and a miserable attitude, with all efforts going to waste as soon as I returned to my original eating habits. I never had that lightbulb moment where I realized I needed to start respecting my body with regular exercise and healthy eating that becomes a wholesome lifestyle. Instead I tried and failed. Many, many times and it took me a long time to work out there was no end point to the healthy eating regime. It only really dawned on me in the past year that my efforts of the last 24 months have become cemented into my day to day life. I’m no longer on a diet, I am happy with my body and the relationship I have with food and I still indulge regularly with zero guilt.
My journey really started when I decided to train for a marathon. I’d previously completed 10k and half marathon races with very minimal training and absolutely no focus on the correct nutrition needed to fuel my body. I then hired a personal trainer who introduced me to the world of weightlifting and I no longer slaved away doing cardio and finding exercise a chore that I had to drag my sorry butt to the gym for. It was the first time in my life I actually enjoyed working out; I was smashing targets and watching my muscles grow. I didn’t care about being skinny and was amazed at what my body was capable of, then in six short months I trained from nothing to completing 26.2 miles with relative ease. I was even in the gym next day hitting a deadlift PR! From then on I have focused more on the weightlifting side of exercise and have absolutely no desire to run another marathon (been there, done that!). Even with this new found love of exercise I’m still a lazy girl at heart and have days and weeks were I have zero motivation and will skip workouts. As soon as I get sick I’ll take the entire week off and I struggle to get back into a routine. However, for the most part I am dedicated to working out about five days a week. I am lucky enough to be able to take a longer lunch break from work and go to the gym during the day, which I find a much easier time to motivate myself than after a full day’s work. I have also recently started CrossFit and Olympic Lifting which is a new challenge that I am enjoying. I’ve realized it’s extremely easy to get yourself stuck in a rut so trying new sports or skills definitely keeps me motivated.
With regards to nutrition, I was introduced to the paleo diet about two years ago when I met my current boyfriend who is a strength and conditioning coach with a keen interest in performance based eating. He taught me the science behind eating to fuel your body for a workout and by focusing on performance, technique and strength in the gym then aesthetics will be a byproduct of that effort. I don’t track my macros (because, honestly, I’m too lazy) but I have educated myself enough on the balance of fats, proteins and carbs and worked out the best time of day to eat certain combinations of those food groups. This allows me to feel fuller for longer, prevent cravings and fuel my workouts and recovery efficiently. By educating myself on properly fueling my body, my relationship with food has definitely changed. I’ve always had a great appetite and loved different flavors and cuisines, however, I always saw food as something that makes you fat and to always be careful how much you eat. Yes, it’s important to be cautious about what you eat but do it by educating yourself to make the correct choice when choosing nutritious food for your body, not just calorie counting. I used to cut calories and then binge-eat chocolate and pizza but would stay slim because I was still in a calorie deficit. Now I eat nutritiously 80-90% of the time then allow myself treats and cheat meals whenever I have a craving for them.
After years of many setbacks (seriously, I’m the queen of setbacks) I think I’ve finally found a routine that works for me. The best piece of advice I can offer anyone is to see it as a lifestyle and not a diet with an end point. As soon as you accept that this is how you need to live your life you will stop being miserable. You can find a type of exercise you enjoy (there’s something out there for everyone) and plan menus for healthy food that you want to eat. I love meal prepping and creating new healthy meals and sweet treats which keeps me motivated to stay on track. I think planning ahead is really useful so you can’t use the excuse that you never have time; if you can set a couple of hours a week aside to plan, prep and cook food you will have so much more time left in the week to pursue other interests (or get a good sweat on at the gym). Seriously, no excuses!
Written by Alice
Follow Alice on Instagram! @thepaleopeach