Recently I shared an Instagram post discussing the mistakes I have made since I started my fitness journey many years ago; and I received a huge influx of messages from you guys saying you can relate to my experiences. So, I wanted to add a little more depth to these points and explain exactly what I wish I could tell myself back at the start of my fitness journey. I hope that this helps some of you who are just at the beginning of your foray into wellness!
Here’s what I would tell my 18 year old self:
- Stop following fad diets. Cabbage soup? Doesn’t work? Beyonce diet? Nonsense. Military diet? No thank you. Every single one of these “quick fixes” doesn’t work, you can’t keep them up and you never last more than a few days on them. Turns out a sustainable balanced diet is the answer, who would have guessed?
- Google says eat 1200 calories, don’t listen. Googling the “lowest calories you can eat and stay healthy” isn’t a great idea. Google doesn’t know you’re 6 foot 2 and google also chats utter shit. Please don’t eat 1200 calories, its isn’t fun and certainly isn’t healthy.
- Healthy isn’t low calorie, it is high nutrient. Stop looking for low calorie alternatives or low calorie “swaps”. These foods are often no better than their higher calorie friends. Calories aren’t a measure of health and eating low calorie isn’t a recipe for success. Instead, focus on food high in nutrients and you’re onto a winner.
- Carbs aren’t the enemy. In fact no food group or macronutrient is the enemy. You need them all to function well. Carbs get demonised on the daily but guess what? You actually end up thriving on a high carb diet later in life, shocker!
- Protein isn’t the god of nutrients. It isn’t the be all and end all, so please stop being so obsessed with it. You’re not going to wither away and die if you don’t eat protein at every meal or snack. Also, “high protein” labelling doesn’t make something healthy for example a “protein” Mars bar is still a Mars bar.
- Numbers aren’t sustainable. Imagine weighing your food when you’re 40, doesn’t sound appealing does it? You don’t want to be tracking macros for the rest of your life so disconnect from numbers as soon as possible.
- You can’t spot reduce fat. No matter how many “love handle” targeting workouts you do you aren’t going to get rid of them. When you lose fat you lose it from anywhere and everywhere; and your body decides how that happens not how any crunches you do.
- Lifting weights won’t make you bulky. You aren’t going to wake up looking like the Hulk. It takes men years to build guns of steel and similar it will take you years to put on substantial muscle mass. Lifting weights is actually empowering AF and makes you feel like a strong independent badass woman. Plus its great for your bone density 🤓 Get involved.
- Supplements aren’t miracle workers. Don’t waste your time on excessive amounts of beta analine, creatine and every other “-ine” these brands sell. You don’t need them to be healthy and to be honest they’re just a waste of money. The only pills or powders you really need (as a plant powered human) are b12 supplements, Vitamin D and vegan omega oils.
- There are many ways to be fit. It is easy to get sucked into the social media fitness vortex and lose sight of the wider world. It seems like everyone online is lifting weights, growing their booty and doing incline treadmill walks. That doesn’t mean you have to do the same! There are 101 ways to train, find the ones you personally enjoy.
- Cardio isn’t hardio. In a similar ilk to the point above, just because everyone online is demonising cardio doesn’t mean you have to do the same. It has so many health benefits that avoiding it isn’t wise. Cardio can be fun when you find a form of it that works for you. One day you’ll end up loving burpees, who would have guessed?!
- You are never going to look like other girls. Because you aren’t other girls. Stop aspiring for a tiny waist and a big butt when you’re a lanky 6 foot human who just isn’t built that way. Stop wasting energy on yearning for a different body shape and learn to love the one you have.
- The bigger picture is what matters. Don’t get caught up on the little details like what time you should eat fruit, whether you should train fasted or fed, or if you should have carbohydrates before bed. These little variables don’t make a big difference; what matters is moving your body more and nourishing it with wholesome foods.
- Eat more plants. Open your mind to a plant based diet, it will change your life. I know right now you’re focused on what dietary choices work for you, but what you eat doesn’t just impact yourself and your health; it impacts the environment, animals and other humans. Every single food choice you make supports a specific supply chain and production practices; so choose wisely. Eating plant based allows you to eat for a reason beyond yourself; it gives your diet a wider purpose and it feels damn awesome.