Hello beautiful ladies! I’m Danielle (@danitoast). I work as a PR Assistant in the tourism industry, which is amazing as I am a keen explorer and have enjoyed some amazing adventures across the globe... with many more to come! I am extremely passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle having experienced the positive impact it can have not only physically, but mentally too. I am all about spreading a little positivity and strive to inspire, motivate, and encourage others as much as I can.
I have struggled with my fitness and nutrition in the past. My weight has fluctuated, my general well-being has suffered, and my self-confidence has plummeted repeatedly over the years. At the worst of times, I would cry looking in the mirror, upset with the way I looked, but angry at myself for being too lazy to do anything about it. Every now and again I’d put in what I considered a ‘real effort’ by starving myself with salads and boring myself stupid on the cross-trainer at the gym; unsurprisingly, I quickly decided that fitness and nutrition was too ‘hard and unenjoyable’ and abandoned ship. Even my upcoming trip to Australia failed to motivate me to get into shape. Frustrated with myself for not doing more, yet still not doing anything about it, I felt more insecure than ever as I awkwardly tried to cover up on the beach. I was unhappy with my body, but I just didn’t know what to do!
So, as you can see, a slight huge shift in attitude from then to now. What happened?
...I learnt that fitness and nutrition don’t have to be ‘hard and unenjoyable’. Here are a few bits of advice I’d give to the Danielle of the past:
STOP comparing yourself to others!
Okay, so it’s really hard not to compare yourself to others when the mass media projects this ‘ideal’ body size onto us – glamorous, tiny, beautiful women gracing the covers of the magazines in their skimpy bikinis, and celebrities penalized and called fat for putting on a couple of pounds even though they are still in wonderful shape. It’s no wonder you’ve got a bit of a complex when this is the message projected… but, these are images and angles can be misleading – I mean does anyone remember the MySpace days? You could go the whole spectrum from troll to Barbie with a simple tilt of the camera!
Camera angles and mass media aside, you pass a woman with the body of your dreams; ‘oh man, I wish my butt was as perky as hers and my stomach that flat!’ But, realistically, you don’t know anything about her. It’s easy to see somebody else’s shape and quickly compare it to your own, yet you don’t know the make up of their genetics, the lifestyle they lead to maintain a good shape, or how hard and long they’ve worked for to achieve a body like that. We are all individual, our bodies are different, some people do have faster metabolisms and seem to instantly burn off what they eat, others don’t. Ultimately, if that woman with the ‘dream body’ leads an active and healthy lifestyle, then it is highly likely that she will have a better body than that of a junk food eating couch potato. So, what’s the point in comparing? Your lives, bodies, and journeys are different. You can’t compare your chapter one with somebody else’s chapter twenty, so stop looking at other people and focus on yourself. And, that takes me nicely into my next point…
Do it for YOURSELF!
It’s always nice to be in extra good shape for a holiday, wedding, or other special occasion… but, what happens when that occasion comes and goes? Does your good shape go with it? Been there, done that! Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have goals; but, there is a worry that working towards a temporary goal can lead to temporary results. Another reason one may strive to get in shape is to attract a lover… or maybe show an ex what they’re missing. Been there, done that… realised that the effort was totally wasted on him. And, well, we’ve already discussed that comparing yourself to others should be off limits; so, why bother at all? Occasions, partners, and other people can all come and go. There is only one permanent fixture that is certain in your life, and that is YOU. You’ve got to do it for yourself! Strive to better yourself and become the best version of YOU that you can be. Make your own realistic and achievable goals dependent on what your overall aim is, go at your own pace, and do it for your own well-being and satisfaction in a way that’s right for you…
Find a way that works for YOU!
Starving on minuscule salads and forcing an exercise regime on yourself that you don’t enjoy is never going to work. For starters, good nutritional food does not have to be boring, tasteless, or leave you feeling hungry. I think there’s something ingrained in our minds (damn the mass media) that shouts ‘SALAD’ when we think about being in good shape. Yes, salads are healthy, but your diet doesn’t just have to consist of lettuce leaves. There’s not much substance here; you’re going to get hungry, feel deprived, and binge eat to make up for it (I am still talking to Danielle of the past here, other people may not feel the hunger, but I do, and I certainly get hangry!) So, yes, watch what you eat, but don’t go overboard and instead, keep it balanced and make gradual changes that suit you and your tastes – this is a lifestyle you want to maintain, so think about the long game.
And, exercise regime… if you don’t enjoy the gym then why push yourself to go? There’s definitely no set law stating that you must only exercise inside of a gym, so don’t feel like that’s your only option. There are plenty of ways to include exercise in your life without stepping foot in a gym, so experiment. If you find something you enjoy doing, whether it’s tennis, football, Zumba, cycling, walking, yoga, weightlifting, swimming, or even playing the Wii Fit in your living room, then, go with it, why not? If you enjoy it, then it won’t feel like a chore and you will want to incorporate it into your life. Once it’s incorporated into your life, it might even get to the point where it feels like habit and you wonder how you ever got by before! And, don’t ever dismiss something because you feel as though it’s not worthy – so what if other people are running marathons and you’re dancing around your front room in your pyjamas. If it’s making you feel good then do it, we’re not comparing ourselves to others, remember! Try new things and you never know what you’ll enjoy. (I never imagined that I’d like hiking so much until I’d tried it and now I can’t get enough!)
And, at the risk of sounding like a Tesco commercial – every little helps – if you’re strapped for time, then incorporate exercise into the time you do have – squats while you clean your teeth, push ups while waiting for the kettle to boil, sit ups while you’re watching TV (it’s a riot in my house!). And, who says workouts have to be long anyway? Five minutes here and there eventually add up. The progress may be slower, but some progress is better than no progress, right? Again, if this is a lifestyle you want to maintain, then keep thinking about the overall picture and ways that fitness can compliment your way of life and vice versa.
DON’T keep looking at the scales!
Argh, the amount of times that I’ve eaten well, exercised hard, and really thought I was on my way to losing weight to find that when I stepped on the scales I’d PUT ON WEIGHT!!! It can be so disappointing when your best efforts don’t seem to be paying off, but don’t let the scales dictate your success as weight fluctuates all the time. I mean for me, it’s a miracle… according to the scales I can lose half a stone (just over 3kg) overnight… and put it back on throughout the day!! Your body is also changing as you’re incorporating exercise into your life. It’s likely that you’re losing fat and gaining muscle, hence no change on the scales. So, do yourself a favour and stop looking at the scales and just keep at it. You’ll see and feel your progress in other ways… and, remember, working on your fitness isn’t all about the physical benefits, it can also do wonders for the mind too!
Know your body and have patience!
It’s easy to go full Boyle when you jump on the exercise train and try and do too much, too soon, and burn out. It’s great to push yourself, but be realistic – you’re not going to be able to run a marathon after your first jog; think about it, that would be crazy! I’ve definitely got a bad habit of being way too hard on myself – beating myself up if I can’t do things on first attempt or feeling silly if I don’t know things straight away; but, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day… things take time and patience is definitely a virtue. Get to know your body, when you can push yourself, and when it’s time to give yourself a rest. It’s all about striking the right balance and finding what works best for you. Start small and work your way up; as time goes on you will be able to manage more as your fitness progresses.
Sometimes progress can be difficult to measure though; maybe you’re still out of breath, sweating like crazy, and feeling the burn after twenty spin classes – ‘Oh man, I still feel so unfit. This is not getting easier at all!’ but, have you questioned that maybe things never get easier, because you’re pushing yourself harder each time? It’s sometimes hard to see progress from workout to workout, but it’s important to remember that it all contributes to the overall picture and eventually the difference will be more noticeable when you look at things across a larger time frame.
So, don’t be too hard on yourself or your body. Some days, you will have a great workout, have the energy to push yourself harder than ever, and really feel like you’re getting somewhere, and other days you may struggle or not even feel like doing anything at all. Don’t be disheartened by these days. Tomorrow is a new day, and all of your hard work isn’t suddenly going to be undone because you miss one workout! It is also likely that you’ll have days where you feel bloated (damn you especially Mother Nature), but remember, bloating is temporary… again, don’t let it dishearten you! Some things will be out of your control, but it’s about accepting this and working on the things that are in your control instead. A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life!
Forget the term ‘should be…’
I think we have a bad habit of thinking things should be a certain way, that we should be doing something differently, or we should be more like that. There is no rule book to life, no instructions to follow, so why does the term ‘should be’ crop up so much? Why do we feel so bad if we aren’t doing what we think we ‘should be’ or we’re not at a place in our lives that we ‘should be’. Example: All of my friends seem to be settling down and buying houses at the age of 26, should I be? No, because I’m not them, I don’t want to do that, and I’m happy with where I’m at in my life without a mortgage. Just because the majority of people seem to be doing something doesn’t mean that it’s right… it also doesn’t mean that it’s wrong… it’s just different! I think that it’s important to remember this when it comes to all aspects of our life including our health, fitness, and goals – we are individuals and we have to stop comparing ourselves to others, think about the best way to do things for ourselves dependent on our own personal goals, and live a life that makes us happy instead of focusing on what we think we should be doing.
And lastly, DON’T keep putting it off!
There will always be a reason to delay or ‘start tomorrow’ if you look for it. Then a year manages to flash by and you’ll wish you had started sooner, so don’t keep putting it off! Go grab your shoes and head out for a walk, put your laptop down and do some squats, have a look into what fitness classes your local gym hosts… do it, right now! Starting can honestly be the hardest part, but when you’ve found that new activity that you enjoy, wanting to continue will come easily!
Now, of course, I wouldn’t like to contradict myself here… so, I’m not saying that this advice is for everyone and most certainly isn’t necessarily the way it ‘should be’ done, but it’s the advice I would give to the Danielle of the past from a fitter, healthier, and happier Danielle, so take from it what you may.