Top five tips for a fit & happy life
Ahh, back from holiday. Feeling rested (ish) and happy… although not very healthy. I was back home for the wedding of a good friend and pie-taster extraordinaire, which happened to coincide with Canadian Thanksgiving and some exciting baseball (I never thought I’d say ‘exciting’ and ‘baseball’ in the same sentence!). That meant seeing lots of friends and family and eating lots of rich food, plus quite a few nights out and a few boozy drinks (okay, maybe a few dozen…). I managed to get a couple of runs in but not as many as I should have or wanted to. It’s crazy but sometimes on holidays back home I feel like I’m busier than I am when I’m at work! This vacation was particularly brutal as I ended up having to do at least a couple of hours work most days, which made the time feel even more crunched.
Photographic evidence of one of the few holiday runs :)
It reminded me of a talk at Fare Healthy that I went to before going on holiday. I’d never really explored Clean & Lean before, but knew the name and had heard of James Duigan, the founder, so when I had the chance to hear him speak, I was really interested – not just from a health point of view but as a fitness entrepreneur I wondered what drove him. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the talk but I was blown away by his heartfelt message and how much it aligns with fit & happy. It particularly resonates after putting on a couple of holiday pounds!
James wants to make the world a better place. No big mission right?! But the way he wants to do it is really touching and he has a way of connecting with an audience, and people, that really brings home the message that it starts with you and being kind to yourself. He’s wryly and self-deprecatingly funny and his voice is a refreshing one in a health and fitness industry that, despite touting the motto ‘strong not skinny’, boasts unhealthy #fitspo selfies by the thousands and plenty of messages about self-deprivation and ‘detoxing’. My favourite quote from him was ‘happiness is not a body-fat percentage’. Amen!
So how does that tie back to my holiday? Well, to start with, it was about letting myself off the hook sometimes. I see my family once or twice a year so if being balanced and happy means choosing an hour with my ridiculously adorable nephew and catching up on my fitness when I’m back in London, I’m letting myself be okay with that. In his talk, James had some great tips to keep in mind about all of that—some are new takes on classic advice and some are purely his—and if I can remember just a few each day or week, to help me achieve my own balance, it would be these five:
You deserve a happy, healthy life. Why wouldn’t everyone choose to believe this? It’s so simple and fundamentally true. It doesn’t mean you deserve to be rich or that there won’t be any challenges, but every day you have the power to choose things that make you happy and to make healthy decisions for yourself. So go on.
Be kind to yourself / any change you make starts in your mind. Sure, this is kind of two thoughts but they’re so closely related I’m keeping them as a perfect pair. Start by choosing the thoughts that work for you and that move you towards your goal, whatever that might be. Get out of the habit of being mean to yourself.
Gluten-free does not equal healthy. Of course there are people who just can't digest glutent, but being labelled 'gluten free' doesn't make it a health food. I.e. don’t just jump on the latest health fad bandwagon. Read the labels. Find out what foods work for you and get rid of the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. What works for you won’t necessarily be the same as what works for someone else.
The perfect body is one you’re happy and healthy in. You can be underweight and happy or overweight and happy, that’s fine, but the whole package includes healthiness and treating your body well.
Fitness = balance. Holistic fitness isn’t about doing 1,000 Olympic dead-lifts or running 10 marathons, so mix up what you do. Swim, run, do yoga, pick things you enjoy and get some variety in there.
As I settle back into the regular day-to-day, although I know I need to get back to healthier habits now that the holiday’s over, I’m also very content. I got to see tonnes of people I care about, laugh a lot, eat some delicious food I can’t get in London, and spend quality time with Mr. F. Could it have been a healthier holiday? That’s a resounding ‘yes!’ but in months, days or years will I look back and wish I’d gone for an extra run or will I cherish the memory of a coffee with my grandma and going for a walk in the fall colours with my sister? I think that’s a pretty easy answer…
Now the only trick is getting back to a healthy routine!
What’s your ideal balance of fit & happy? How do you achieve it and, if you let yourself slip or enjoy a break, how do you get back on track?