Being healthy isn’t all quinoa, kale, body-bruising bootcamps and green juices that taste like swamp water, despite what Instagram and social media would have the majority of us believe - and they're hardly the most motivating of images to keep us on the health wagon long-term. Trying to 'be good' can very much feel like an exercise in deprivation as we list all the things we can't have, rather than seeing the positives in what we can - but to create long lasting habits, the answer doesn’t lie in restricting ourselves but rather retraining our minds to see healthy living as a joy, rather than a chore.
So what do the pros recommend for viewing "healthy" in a whole new light? These are the mind and body boosting mantras that they live and train by...
James Duigan, Founder of Bodyism: Clean and Lean
1. Have a healthy mindset
“It isn’t difficult to enjoy being healthy but the issue is that people have forgotten what being healthy actually means. The first thing to remember is that healthy is delicious and doesn’t have to mean going on a diet; we all know that diets simply do not work! Healthy certainly is not a steamed chicken breast with a bowl of dust on the side. What healthy actually involves is an abundance and variety of delicious foods flavoured with herbs, spices and a good blend of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. Clean and Lean has been so successful because that is exactly what it’s about.”
2. Use healthy movement to energise
“Healthy movement and exercise will make you feel energised, happy and confident. It doesn’t have to be about being screamed at on a treadmill by someone in hot pants until you throw up, or lifting weights in a class with 30 other people until your knee breaks. Healthy movement is about introducing the right balance and finding something that you really enjoy doing; that is how you create a strong, lean body. A good example of this would be taking part in a yoga class a couple of times a week with a really intelligent lifting and resistance programme to keep your bones, muscles and ligaments strong. Another great way, depending on how fit you are, is a walk or run in the park with someone that you love - combining exercise with the things you really enjoy doing to get that positive mental association.”
www.cleanandlean.com . @JamesDuigan .
Calgary Avansino, author, Contributing Editor of Vogue and wellness pro
3. Don't try to do everything at once
“Be patient with yourself. Set new goals for each month and pat yourself on the back with each one you achieve. We're not robots, we are humans and we can only change so much at once. One thing at a time! Being healthy doesn't have to be overwhelming.”
4. Surround yourself with people who are on the same journey
“We all need support especially when we are trying to make changes. So seek out friends with the same goals, try new classes where you can build a strong community with likeminded folks. The more the merrier! Hang out with people who prioritise their health and who understand what you are trying to achieve.”
www.calgaryavansino.com . @calgaryavansino .
Christina Howells, personal trainer
5. See it as ‘me time’
“Exercise is a great opportunity to focus entirely on yourself and have a little ‘me time’ to capture your thoughts and take a break from the hustle and bustle of your day. You don’t have to go to the gym; in fact, it is far better to choose activities you enjoy and that fit your schedule in an environment you feel comfortable in. You may prefer to make exercise social such as a yoga class followed by a juice catch-up.”
6. Focus on the positives
“When we try to stick to an exercise routine, we often think negatively about starting our workout when it is far better to focus on the many positive feelings you will experience when you have finished. The mental benefits are immediate such as a sense of achievement, less tension, increased energy, happiness and confidence. Let’s face it - whoever regretted a workout.”
thatgirllondon.com . @thatgirl_london .
Jenna Zoe, nutritionist
7. Be guided by joy
“The only way to lasting health and happiness is through authentic joy. Think about it: we want to look our best because we think it's going to make us happier. So why do anything that makes you less happy in hopes of getting there?
“What does this mean in practical terms? Don't try and be the girl who loves green juice if the sight of it makes you wanna gag. Instead, let your personal taste and preferences guide you. It doesn't need to be so heavy. Keep it light and keep it fun: have protein pancakes for dinner, do burpees to the Frozen soundtrack...”
8. Be your own guru
“No matter how qualified or experienced an expert is, they're still not you. This means ultimately, you get to decide what your own version of healthy looks like. Try going on an information detox for two weeks and using that time to really ask yourself which rituals suit you and which don't. If during this time you decide that starting a tradition called ‘Chocolate Cake Breakfast Mondays’ is fun and will keep you inspired to be healthy the rest of the week - go for it. So much of the journey is about empowering our own intuitive voice rather than giving our power away to any guru we come across. Plus, making your own rules is a lot more fun that listening to someone else's.”
www.foodstolove.co.uk . @jennazoe .
Joslyn Thompson Rule, Nike NTC Master Trainer
9. Know why you are doing it and what you are doing when you are working out
“Training aimlessly in the gym because you feel you ‘should’ can be demotivating. Following a programme that you know will help you reach your goal will help you to enjoy what you are doing even when the going gets tough! Having a purpose to your training is key.”
10. Don’t go it alone
“Grab a friend or two and arrange to do a workout together. Working out with someone is often a lot more fun than training by yourself. You are also less likely to cancel a session if someone else is relying on you to work out. Knowing that you are both going through the same thing will motivate you both to push on and get the work done as a team.”
Madeleine Shaw, holistic health coach
11. Find healthier alternatives that you’ll actually enjoy
“Who wants to live without cake and pasta? I definitely don't! I like to swap my regular afternoon tea treat for a raw energy ball or gluten free chocolate brownie. And when it comes to pasta, well, you can't go wrong with chickpea pasta or courgetti.”
12. Mix it up by working out at home
“I like to put on a Glow Guides workout at home. It means I can shower at home, save gym travel time and the weather will never get in the way!”
www.madeleineshaw.com . @madeleine_shaw_ .
Zoe Stirling, nutritional therapist
13. View it as a rally, not a race
“Embarking on a healthy eating plan or even making just a few changes to your diet is never easy so breaking down your goal into week-by-week tasks or changes can be a much more bite-sized and manageable way of improving your diet and lifestyle. Making lots of changes all at the same time can lead to feelings of deprivation so go easier on yourself, and remember that slow and steady wins the race! The best healthy eating fix is one that you’re going to stick to in the long term. A positive body starts with a positive mind.”
14. Clear your brain to focus your mind
“Do you ever get that knotted feeling in your stomach when you’re stressed? If your body is reacting in that way to stress then in the same way, it’ll almost certainly be reacting to negative thoughts by negatively impacting your physical wellbeing. Try to adopt a positive mindset through meditation and breathing techniques or simply write down your thoughts and emotions to help restore balance and clarity to the mind. With a clearer mind we’re more likely to stick to positive, healthy habits.”
www.zoestirling.com . @zoestirling_ .
For more nutrition and fitness inspiration from Joslyn and Zoe, check out our health and fitness Project Me guide, our 24 week plan featuring a menu of delicious, healthy recipes and workout inspiration for all levels. Click here for more information and to download the complete guide .