If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that a large majority of my photos feature me standing in front of the mirror in the women’s restroom at Planet Fitness, taking workout selfies. I’m proud of my abs and I like to show off my progress.
I’m not the most qualified person to give health tips by a long shot, but I am in shape and have certain habits that contribute to my health I’d like to share. Also, my workout selfies are my most liked photos on Instagram and that might (does) give me a false sense of confidence, but that’s okay. All in all, I’m very passionate about my health, plus I was a competitive swimmer for 11 years, so I know what it takes to be fit.
This article is not about counting calories or macros (whatever those are, I honestly don’t know), it’s about laying a foundation that allows your body to become healthier.
Here are six health tips from someone obsessed with workout selfies:
1. Shove greens in your face
It’s important to treat yo’ self. So important. Life is hard and challenging and you shouldn’t have to stress over one of the most basic, intrinsic things we do to survive— eat.
But life’s not fair, and most things delicious in this world are hella bad for us so we have to filter what we eat.
One thing I crave like crazy at night when I’m watching late night talk shows (Culbert and Noah are the best) is potato chips. It’s not bad to have cravings, but it's bad to always indulge them. This is why every time you get a craving for something you’ll regret eating later, balance that out with something healthy.
What I do:
Do I have amazing self control? Haha no. Sweets are my weakness. However, I am great at balancing my diet. When I know I’m about to hunker down and destroy a half bag of Lay's original potato chips, I open the fridge and grab the bag of spinach or arugula that I hope hasn’t expired. (Greens go bad way too fast). If they’re good, or even on the fence of going bad, I shove a handful in my mouth and eat it. I’ll probably eat about two to four handfuls, depending on the day. Then, I eat some delicious chips, but not nearly the amount I would have before.
By doing this, I’m balancing out the snack I’m about to have with something healthy. I usually don’t cut out unhealthy foods entirely, because nobody's perfect. But I never let myself eat only junk food.
2. Care more about delayed gratification than instant gratification
Stop pressuring food to make you happy. Food is essential to life, obviously. No one is refuting that. However, not all food is essential and that mindset is crucial.
Stop glorifying binge eating junk food. Stop glorifying going so many days without eating a vegetable.
That awesome feeling you get when you eat something really delicious is temporary— how food affects your body is not. Care more about the after effect rather than instant gratification.
If you want to change your body, you have to change your mindset. Instead of thinking about how good bread is, or how amazingly satisfying potato chips are after a long day, or how double chocolate cake tastes paired with red wine and a little ice cream with a heated up drizzle of-sorry, sorry, I’ll stop. Stop those thoughts right now. Tell yourself “not today, Satan” and eat a carrot.
Also, food isn’t healthy because it contains a fruit or veggie in its name. Veggie chips? Full of sodium. Bad. Dried fruit? Most are full of added sugars. Look out for that. Fruit juices? Most have a crazy amount of sugar.
Sugar is the enemy. Sure, you can fraternize with it every once in awhile, when it’s in plain fruit, but don’t think for one second that foods like Greek yogurt with fruit on the bottom or all granola bars are healthy. They have so much sugar and that’s honestly what’s stopping me from getting a six pack of abs.
Sidenote: screw fitness blogs on Instagram. They’re stupid. Kind of. In a way. By stupid, I mean they use sneaky tricks to get you follow them. When I post a workout selfie, I’ll get maybe 10 comments, usually short ones with a thumbs up or a “nice!.” I’ll also get about 10 new followers, but those aren’t the people that commented on the photo.
Then a day goes by.
I’ll lose eight of those followers within 14 hours. They follow you just so you notice them, go “oh wow, thanks for the follow,” then you look at their page, decide they’re cool, and then follow them back because you’re nice like that and you’re in a good mood because all these cool fitness blogs are following you now. Then a few hours go by and they just up and unfollow you and break this new friendship you created and it just hurts. Those sneaky, cheap bastards. But damn do they have nice abs.
Anyway, back to it.
What I do:
I tell myself to think of food as a means to stay alive and get energy. I don’t always think this way, especially when I’m eating chocolate at my desk, but it does influence what I choose to get at restaurants. or decide to make for meals. I rarely order pasta, and I always try to get some kind of green on my plate.
If you’re craving something sweet, make or order a smoothie without added sugar.
I like to buy snacks for my desk and eat them throughout the day, and one of my favorites is granola bars. My rule with this particular snack is the protein content has to be at least 2 grams higher than the sugar content, and the sugar content cannot be above 7 grams per serving. Gotta’ get that protein but not the sugar.
3. Drink so much water
For the love of God, stop drinking pop. Just stop. Nothing in pop is good for you. At all. It’s such a waste of stomach space. Also, watch out for fruit juices because many contain a lot of sugar. Remember my tip of not believing that something is healthy just because it contains the word “fruit” in it.
Carry a water bottle with you everywhere — to work, the doctor’s office, into stores, into the bathroom, to the gravesite when you’re burying bodies, literally everywhere and chug it. If you don’t like the taste of water, get over it, sweetie, because it’s what’s keeping you alive and you should worship it everyday.
Try to finish at least two water bottles a day. You’ll pee a lot more, but it will increase your metabolism and that’s great.
What I do:
I drink tea like it’s my lifeline until about noon, when my tea bag has lost its potency. Then I drink water throughout the day. When I get home, I chug a glass of water and then carry around water. When I first wake up, I chug some water. Before I go to bed, I chug water. After I post a workout selfie and I’m anxiously waiting to see how many likes I get because I’m pathetic and crave other people's approval, I chug water. It’s a constant thing. So are bathroom trips, but that’s fine.
4. Get off your bum
All of the above will help you lose weight and be healthy but adding physical activity is so crucial. If you’re a weirdo and hate the gym, there are so many other things you can do.
Number one: go to the gym anyway. You’re not there because it’s a nice environment, you’re there because it’s good for you and physical activity is necessary for your health. Gyms also have people who can show you how to use machines. If you’re too shy to ask how machines work, just watch how others use them and then copy.
If you’re worried about what people think, don’t be. Most regular gym goers, like myself, either A are happy to see bigger people there because it means they’re trying to be healthy, or B literally don’t care. There are a few assholes, sure, but you should really feel bad for those ones because they’re the kind of people who say crap like “fat people are so unhealthy and make us all pay more for insurance” while simultaneously fat shaming people who go to the gym. Their pecs may be huge, but their brains are not. Don’t let your fears keep you from doing what’s right for you. Screw what anyone at the gym thinks.
Number two: go for walk.
Number three: go to the gym with a friend.
Number four: go swimming in your local pool.
Number five: go to the gym and reward yourself after with a new purse or a new soldering iron. Whatever flexes your pecs.
Number six: home workouts are excellent and you can easily use YouTube to find some fantastic workouts. I highly recommend this option.
Number seven: download fun walking/running apps. You can get so many fun workout apps, like ones where you run away from zombies, that will motivate you to get off your bum.
Number eight: physically run away from your problems. Seriously. Just think of all of your issues and everything that’s stressing you, and then just run. If it helps, imagine they’re chasing you. Points if you freak out your neighbors by screaming while you run.
What I do:
I steal workout moves from people at the gym all the time. I’m at Planet Fitness three times a week for about an hour to an hour and a half. My workouts consist of about 25 minutes of cardio (I freaking love cardio, it’s my favorite), then I do some lifting, ab workouts, and then I stretch. It’s really basic stuff. I actually need to up my game and change my routine.
5. Identify other stressors in your life
It’s almost impossible to take care of your physical health if you aren’t taking care of your mental health. I feel like this topic could be a whole separate blog post, because it’s so important. If you have depression, you’re obviously less likely to have the motivation to get outside in the first place. If you have anxiety, you’re more likely to eat what makes you feel good in the moment and then have even more anxiety after.
Don’t underestimate the weight of mental illness and how it affects other aspects of your life.
What I do:
What I do will not be helpful for people suffering from mental illness. When I’m stressed, I run. I love pounding out miles on the treadmill, but that’s not helpful for everyone. If you’re suffering from mental illness, I recommend taking care of your mind first, because if you have a healthy mind, it’s easier to have a healthy body.
6. Stop searching for a miracle
If you’re searching for some miraculous weight loss supplement or plan or drink or vitamin or a free liposuction surgery or anything that causes you to lose weight without changing your daily routine, stop it. Even if something like that did exist, you probably couldn’t afford it anyway.
You know what you can afford? Buying bell peppers instead of chips. Buying a $10 Planet Fitness membership instead of all those Starbucks drinks. Going for a walk instead of binge watching Game of Thrones for the third time (even though I really don't blame you, the next season comes out six days before my birthday, I'm freaking out on the inside).
Here’s the best kept secret about being healthy that weight loss and diet supplement companies don’t want you to know about— there is no miraculous way to lose weight besides putting the work in yourself. You can’t expect your body to change unless you change how you treat it.
What I do:
I trust myself to do the best I can do, and then I try to do better. I believe that there are too many people in this world who want something they aren’t willing to work for. Don’t be one of those people. It should go without saying, but your health is incredibly important and it’s something you should try to improve daily (speaking to the skinny people here, too).
I use the above tips every day and it’s made a difference in my body. (I also learned how to pose so my abs look better, a very helpful tool. Use the Slumber filter on Instagram to make your muscles look better, trust me).
I’d love to end this article with a joke or an anecdote about my ab pictures, because good bloggers try to bring their articles full circle, but I can’t think of anything so I’m just going to end with a cute after-workout photo of me with one of my dogs, Kaycee.