Finding a healthy balance with food and exercise

Balance is something I thoroughly believe in when taking food and exercise into consideration – I love food and trying lots of new vegan dishes, but I’m aware that being active in any way possible is essential not only for losing weight and gaining muscle, but also for being a stronger and healthier version of yourself, all whilst staying happy and motivated on your journey towards a balanced lifestyle.

Currently, I don’t have a gym membership. It’s one of the many things on my to-do list to sort out after moving a few months ago! I have been weighing up the benefits of either hot yoga/Pilates classes vs a personal trainer, as I’m someone that needs to a) have direction and motivation to do a workout and b) be warm and doing things at a slowish pace, with achievable results. In the meantime, though, I have really made an effort to walk more around Brighton, which is quite easy to do as everything is around 30-40 minutes max away from me. The main shops and cafes are 15 minutes away, which means I’m always bopping along to some music to go mooch around the shops or head to the beach. It really helps that I can walk to work too, which gives me (some) fresh air and stretches my legs before being sat at a desk all day. And, as the town is at a bottom of a hill…let’s just say those thighs get a workout on the way home!

I’m very aware that I don’t do a lot of high intensity or strength-based exercise, so making sure I walk 40 minutes a day is my main goal. It makes me feel like the energy and circulation in my body is well oiled and is ‘getting pumped’ during my commute, without too much exertion and its enjoyable too! Plus, as I’ve been exploring a lot of vegan treats since moving to Brighton, I’m aware that walking more or having fast-paced intervals and walking on inclines helps to balance the treats in a positive way, rather than it being a cheat food, or giving a negative focus to the choices I do make.

I’ve had issues in the past with food and image, and now that I’ve become aware of that, I try not to focus on how much sugar I’ve had, or whether I’m getting enough greens (I do eat several handfuls of spinach a day as a snack though, so I don’t think we have problem in that area!). However, making sure I get my steps in is key for me, as well as stretching in the evening if I have time, and going over some old PT moves for extra movement and cardio when I feel I need to pump up my routine. My diet is vegan, and I eat healthy 98% of the time with 2% being treats, but I suppose my version of healthy is feeling happy and satisfied with what I’m eating and that I’m nourishing my needs – I have a lot of bread and carbs because I can easily get tired mentally and need that fuel, plus being vegan, I like to get my carbs in to stock up on nutrients which I lack from meats etc. I always have my 5+ a day, favouring veg over fruit because sugar makes me feel too ‘zazzed’ in a bad way that leads to crashes, and I love the taste of fresh food. So, a slice of something typically ‘naughty’ is a rare occasion that I don’t always finish off, because my palette is so used to savoury!

I believe everything is done with slow manageable changes, whether it’s cutting out meat or increasing your stamina by running 1 minute a day until you can run for 10 minutes solid. You have to mentally be able to make the change so it doesn’t give you withdrawals, or allow the cravings to ring loud in your head that you ‘need’ x to get by. Phase things out slowly, drink herbal teas for a sweet taste after meals and have healthy yummy snacks on hand like Yushoi that you can go to when snacks cravings to appear – perfect for me when I’m at work and feeling hungry before lunch, plus they’re a great source of protein and help me stock up on nutrients I don’t get from eating meat! If you can’t get a whole routine in, do some squats, ice-skater side-jumps, or have a 10-minute walk in the summer sun, just to get your legs moving and keep that blood pumping!

Balance can easily be achieved every day if you just make and stick to those small changes, and knowing that you don’t have to deprive or punish yourself of treats now and again to maintain that healthy happy medium is all a part of living a balanced life – keep your body moving, your tummy full, and your heart happy!