It’s the month of luuurrve. Both sharing your love but also loving yourself. Which, for me, means blasting Ed Sheeran, eating chocolate truffles, romantic dinner dates and maybe even a little vino. I also find myself reflecting on what love means. What it means to me and for those around me. One of the most important things I have learnt lately is that my relationship with myself really does set the tone for my relationships with those around me.
Practising self-care goes far beyond the occasional bubble bath and face mask. Every day, the way that we speak to ourselves, how we choose to nourish our bodies or why we exercise is the biggest part of nurturing a loving relationship with ourselves. With the gorgeous supermodels all over the gram, a million conflicting ideas around diet and a society that promotes working until burnout, it is difficult to find a happy, healthy balanced view of ourselves and how we should be living. I thought for this Valentine’s Day I would share some of my best practices for maintaining that balance, especially around these traditionally indulgent occasions, in three main ideas.
1. No CHEATS just TREATS
Diet is probably the most controversial conversation out there. Banting vs Paleo, Vegan vs Keto, low-carb, high-fat, sugar-free, gluten-free, intermittent fasting, 6 meals a day, not eating after 16:00, snacking vs not snacking… it’s a nightmare. What I have seen work in my own life and those I respect in the health & fitness community is that there are a few basic principles to follow:
- Eat a rainbow of mostly fresh produce. Whether you do or don’t eat meat, carbs, grains or dairy, the common denominator of all successful lifestyles is to fill most of your plate with fruit or veg and then find your own balance with the rest.
- Focus on feeling nourished not deprived. If you really struggle with eliminating certain foods that don’t make you feel as good, or strong as others then rather include them in smaller amounts. Maintaining a positive mindset around food, a balance that really works for you and eating what you want really works the best. It’s just important to try listen more to what our BODY wants than what our mind might think it wants. Removing the idea of ‘cheating’ and making conscious decisions about what to include in your daily eating regime makes it easier to maintain a lifestyle.
- Make your own choices. It is so much easier when you surround yourself with like-minded people that have the same values as you, but in all instances you don’t need to feel bad for choosing what you know will be good for you. Ask a restaurant waiter for a bunch of delicious veggie sides or tailor make a salad that you know you will love. Be firm with friends and family about what your dietary needs are because, at the end of the day, they should love and respect that you know your health needs best.
Overall the more positive your outlook on food and what is does for your body, the easier it is to make choices that you will be grateful for tomorrow. Treat yourself when you want to, make the best of the choices available and be kind to yourself when you feel like you’ve failed.
2. Bust a MOVE
I want to tell you to go to gym when you want to, but not all of us have this inherent exercise bug. I will say though, that you should exercise the way you want to. Not everyone needs to be a marathon runner, be able to bench a small house or do twenty pull-ups. For some people weight training works, some people love to run, or do yoga, rock climbing or cycling – the reason it works is because they enjoy doing it. As soon as you’re exercising as punishment for what you’ve eaten that week, or to try and look a certain way then it becomes really hard to sustain long term. For me, I like to do a bunch of different stuff. I run, I do yoga, I love climbing with friends, sometimes it’s just a quick 30 minute Kayla sesh at home or a walk down to the shops. I definitely don’t look like an insta-model but I do know that I can sustain what I feel is a healthy balance of movement for a really long time. Your balance might be to hit the gym every evening and do some power weights – as long as you’re moving in a way that makes you happy.
3. Rise & SHINE
Don’t hate yourself for everything you can’t or aren’t doing but celebrate and love what you already are.
There are many foundations in life that are largely accepted as positive grounds for a happier and healthier life. Things like exercise, eating well, sleeping enough, meditating or not overworking are all very important pillars for a balanced life. But it doesn’t mean that all those things look the same in everyone’s routine. Often if we can’t reach the perfect regiment we throw the towel in, but don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough. If the only meditation you can include is 10 minutes of quieting your mind before sleeping at night, that is good enough. If you can only get 6.5 hours of sleep every night instead of 8, that is good enough. If you need to work 50 hours a week right now to reach your dreams and goals, that is okay! You don’t need to meal prep for 7 days ahead, not drink coffee or get 3 litres of water every day to lead a balanced life.
The only thing I would say really, truly is a game changer when it comes to maintaining a good balance is a good morning routine. I don’t always manage to get around to it, but when I do it really has a positive impact on my day. I try to make my bed, move a little first thing (yoga or stretching if I can’t get out to run or something more intense), get breakfast in within an hour or two of waking up (that’s long I know! But with my schedule it’s my “good enough”). Some of the people I most admire in the industry will be up at 5:00, meditate, run, make a smoothie, do admin and then start their day. That’s my perfect goal – maybe one day I will get there, but for now I am doing the best I can – and that is okay!
So, let’s fall in love again. With ourselves, our bodies, our food, the way we move, and let that dictate a healthy balance in our lives!
Lexi Monzeglio (@leximonzeglio) is the owner and chef at Lexi’s Healthy Eatery (@lexiseatery). The restaurant’s ethos is “Eat More Plants”. Lexi adopts a plant-based approach in both her own life and her restaurant, as well as a consciousness around how our actions today affect our health and the environment tomorrow. Spending a lot of time learning about food-based nutrition and studying through Matthew Kenney’s plant-based culinary school, she really tries to bring a bright, fresh and new understanding of a healthy, plant-based lifestyle.