Hey guys, happy almost-weekend! Thanks for the love on yesterday’s Spring Floral dresses…I’m thrilled these style posts help inspire your closet and make shopping so much easier! I’m happy to do the research on our behalf! 😉
Today’s post has been heavily-requested for awhile, so I’m excited to finally be chatting more about my fitness, food, and wellness. It’s one of my most-frequently-asked questions, yet I’ve hesitated to share tips since I have no actual training or knowledge! I’d never want to steer you astray, or give bad advice!
So let me just preface by saying I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, fitness trainer, or any sort of expert in any health-related field. But I do know my own (over 40!) body, so today I’m sharing the foundation of my overall fitness and relationship with food.
It’s also worth noting that my mom is quite petite, and my dad was always very lean. So while fitness and nutrition play a big role, so do genetics. I also learned early on that it’s easier for me to maintain a healthy weight, than lose weight! So while my size and weight vary a little depending on the the time of year and our schedule, I strive to keep myself within a 5-10 pound range all the time.
1. Intermittent Fasting
There are several seasons in a woman’s life when her body takes a turn…it changes in a way we didn’t see coming! For me so far, those seasons have been college life (can you say ‘Freshman 25’!), pregnancy (I carried two nine-pound babes), and turning 40. Okay, so it’s been a few years since turning 40, but there’s no question my body and metabolism look drastically different since then.
The single biggest impact I’ve seen to controlling the weight, especially around my mid-section, is Intermittent Fasting. This is the practice of consuming all your daily calories in an 8-hour window, and fasting for 16. The fasting allows your body to go into full digestive rest for 8 hours (the time after your last meal is fully-digested), which helps with weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved digestion, reduced bloating, increased mental clarity, better sleep, and reducing sugar cravings. All good things, right?!
I implemented it into my daily lifestyle a year ago, and am convinced it accounts for the majority of my weight management and flatter belly. I didn’t realize how much ‘light snacking’ I was doing after dinner, which kept my digestive system working almost around-the-clock, so just cutting that out made an almost-immediate impact. So if a 14-16 hour fasting window isn’t for you, start smaller by cutting out all after-dinner snacks.
Anything over 50 calories breaks the fast and kick-starts your digestion, so you can have water, tea, and coffee (I use almond milk and no-cal sweetener in mine) during the fasting window. I practice Intermittent Fasting almost every day, with the exception of some traveling, and usually fast from 8pm to noon…but it can vary depending on my schedule. Definitely do your research before deciding if this is for you!
Food and diet are not an ‘all or nothing’ thing for me. I don’t eliminate any one food or food group from my diet (except maybe donuts…those are a trigger for me!), but rather I try to maintain moderation and balance.
I discovered that counting calories and restrictive dieting only makes me obsess about food, so by making nothing ‘off limits,’ I’m better able to maintain a healthier relationship with food, and therefore, make better overall food choices. I don’t view foods as good and bad, but rather better and best.
For instance, passing on the bread basket will only make me crave that hot, buttery roll even more, likely resulting in a bread binge at some point! So I’ll have a single roll (or half), satisfy the craving and not feel deprived…moderation. Or if I know I want dessert, I’ll have salad or lean meat and veggies for dinner…balance.
I also consider food as part of the experience when we travel or eat out, so I don’t restrict myself then, but rather aim for smaller portions. I also make peace with gaining a few pounds, then get back on a healthier track when we get home.
I also know that life is too short to not eat the cookie, and no one ever lays on their death bed wishing they’d been able to lose that final 5 pounds!!
For me, maintaining a healthy weight is mostly about diet, but having a healthy mind and body comes from exercise.
My exercise of choice is Orange Theory Fitness…group interval classes led by an instructor, that combine cardio, weights, and stretching. Left to my own motivation, I’d rarely work out, or would give up after a few minutes. That’s why instructor-led classes with accountability are key for me.
I strive to attend two classes a week, and walk/run the dogs and do at-home exercises on other days. Being over 40, it definitely took a lot longer before I started to see the results of working out! But more than physical changes, high-cardio workouts are essential to my mental well-being.
I’ve worked through a lot of issues on the treadmill…sometimes with tears streaming down my face! It’s the one hour of my day where my brain completely shuts off, and I focus on myself and my body. Exercising also gives me an appreciation for what my body can do, which leads to confidence. And confidence and gratitude are powerful!
Fit Tip: Of course a great workout motivator is cute exercise outfits! Zella is one of my go-to brands for the softest, best fitting leggings and tops. I love the live-in high waist leggings, especially in the cropped length. I find the leggings true to size, but always size up one in their tops and sweatshirts. I’m wearing XS leggings and small tops in these pics.
This is pretty obvious, and I’m better some days than others…but I strive to drink half my body weight in water/tea every day. Drinking water makes skin clearer and brighter, curbs hunger, and helps fill out fine lines and wrinkles on your entire body. It also flushes your system and aids in digestion, which leads to a flatter stomach.
I never drink soda or juice (I’d much rather eat my calories than drink them!), and usually only drink alcohol 2-3 times a month. You’ll never see me without a HydroFlask or similar in my hand!
Fit Tip: I’ve always been a Nike girl when it comes to workout shoes, but several of the girls in my class wear these Adidas. They’re so light and cushy, and I find them true to size. I wear the Zella no-show socks with virtually all my sneakers.
This one may be unexpected, but I started using Collagen Peptide a couple of years ago, and swear by the results! Natural collagen production slows as we age, so adding it to your diet helps muscles heal faster, eases joint pain, improves skin health and hydration, aides in digestion.
In not so many words, it also really helps with regularity, which leads to a flatter stomach. I put a scoop in my coffee every morning…it has zero flavor and only 35 calories (so I’m not breaking my fast).
Okay, that was waaaaay longer than I’d intended, but I hope you found my tips helpful and encouraging. One of the greatest gifts about getting older has been learning to love and accept my body…for all it’s capable of and given me. And to return the favor by treating myself with kindness, both spiritually and physically.
I know this is just scratching the surface, so let me know if you want to see more posts like this…and what else you’d want to talk about!! I’m happy to expand on any of these elements, and would love to hear what’s part of your get healthy/stay healthy routine!
[Shop My Workout Style]
*Photos by the darling and talented Mary Hafner. This post is created in collaboration with Nordstrom and ShopStyle, but all product selections & taco moderation is my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*