Today’s fabulous post is brought to you by one of my favorite glam-humans: Gabby Viola (@gabviola). Gabby and I met during my time in Australia (wow best 5 months of my life), and I’ve been slightly obsessed with her adorable rockstar life ever sense. Looking to get even more Gab? Check out her podcast: https://castbox.fm/channel/Girl-Chat-with-Gab-and-Cas-id1374090?country=us (yes I binged it all day at work, no shame).
1. Health is not Protein Shakes and FitTeas.
If you’re like me, or one of the millions of people that have Instagram, you’ve likely seen an ad that would be defined as a “health” or “fitness” ad. I am telling you now – it is not. The health industry grinds my gears (to say the least). A lot of fitness accounts on various social media platforms try to push “health” products, whether they be supplements, eating/workout guides, diet pills, etc. and it is our responsibility, as the consumers of this media, to RECOGNIZE this and not fall into their traps. These are companies whose main objective is to sell a product, and although some of these products may help you achieve your fitness goals, they are not an easy fix. And if they are promising you that, they’re lying. Now, there are supplement companies and Instagram fitness accounts that are valid AND DO CARE about their followers’ goals and attainment of healthier lifestyles (s/o to my girl @sideofkail). However, individuals who are sponsored by a supplement company that genuinely care about the health of their following and not just selling a product, will tell you that although supplements can help you reach your goals, you do not NEED them.
2. Health is not obsessing over your food or macros.
Coming from someone who used to measure everything that went into my body, I may not know everything health is, but I know what it is not. Becoming obsessed with weighing and measuring foods and eating solely for the sake of surviving is no way to live a healthy lifestyle. Food is something you can and SHOULD enjoy, and by making it something that must be measured and tracked it can warp your relationship with food. I found this to be dangerous and it heavily contributed to my eating disorder. When it comes to food, my approach is to listen to what your body is telling you first, if you are lagging in your workout and seem to be hazy, this is your own body telling you something, so listen! If counting calories is something you struggle with, I strongly urge you to listen to YOUR body, not your mind, meaning: eat when you’re hungry, not when your next planned meal is. If you are craving something, indulge in moderation (eat the cookie, not the whole box). And lastly, fill your diet with nutrient dense foods that make you feel full and satisfied to avoid binges.
3. Health is not “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods.
Again, the dieting industry fills our minds with ideas of health, and with this comes ideas of “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods. However, brainstorm a few healthy foods and ask yourself WHY you perceive them to be healthier than others. Is it because they are lower in calories? Lower carb? What makes a salad better than pizza? Well, not ALL salads are better than pizza. Some salads can be more nutrient dense than pizza, and (depending on the salad) have fewer calories. Traditionally, we think of fruits and veggies as healthy, probably because that’s what we we’ve always been told. It might shock you when I say there ARE NOT healthy and unhealthy foods, just foods that are more nutrient dense than others. Fruits and vegetables will make you feel fuller longer and more satisfied, and you can have more vegetables for the calorie amount than you can pizza. Pizza (and really any other typical “junk” food,) is not a bad food if eaten in moderation and can/should be enjoyed – have a piece of pizza but also pair it with a salad and fresh vegetables, fulfilling your craving while also feeling full.
4. Health is not purely physical or physique based.
I am a firm believer that the only way to achieve physical health, true health in my eyes, is if you have a healthy mindset. This is hard because it’s hard to define what a healthy mindset is, and unlike our physical appearance, we cannot see our mental health. From someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, I have had people come up to me when my mental health was at an all-time low asking HOW to be healthy or HOW they could lose weight, little did they know I was far from the epitome of health mentally. My advice to anyone who wants to achieve health as well as reach their fitness goals is to both 1) accept your body THE WAY IT IS currently and 2) try not to obsess about what your vision of “health” is, whether it’s eating clean foods, working out, or even the number on a scale. Because once a fixation on chasing health becomes an obsession, it’s no longer a healthy mindset.
5. Health is not lived through one single-faceted lifestyle.
The main reason fad diets, low carb diets, etc. fail is because they are not sustainable. I can say with a great amount of confidence that you cannot happily sustain a life where you feel constantly restricted, which in essence is what any diet or eating trend is. Eating healthy is important, but it doesn’t mean you have to eat foods you don’t enjoy. To maintain a lifelong healthy lifestyle, you must enjoy the food you are eating as well as your way of staying active; this is something that helped switch my mindset greatly in my eating disorder recovery. Health is not a single mindset nor is it lived one way. Health LOOKS different for DIFFERENT lifestyles. Not everyone can hit the gym for an hour a day, nor does everyone want to. Implementing small things into your everyday routine to stay active can be a healthy lifestyle for one person, while lifting or cardio sessions can be a healthy lifestyle for another.
In terms of “eating” for a healthy lifestyle, there is no one-track way or special health food(s) that define having a healthy lifestyle. For me, I try to eat healthy 80-85% of the time, fueling my body with nutrient dense fruits and veggies and protein sources and I enjoy eating these because it gives me energy throughout the day and fuels my workouts AND allows me to achieve my fitness and health goals. Having the 15-20% freedom to also indulge in foods that are not as nutrient dense, or even a night out drinking with my friends, allows me to feel unrestricted and guilt free when I do decide I want a cookie or a drink (or two or three.)
Hello my sweet angel muffins! First, I would like to briefly say thank you to Kail for letting me get on my soap box and get one step closer to exposing the fitness industry and redefining the way we view “healthy” living. Secondly, I wanted to introduce myself, my name is Gabby Viola (@gabviola on insta, shameless plus and no, I will not try to sell you any fittea,) and I am currently a Law Student living in Chicago with a closet passion for fitness and a large opinion on most topics. In my free time, I love distance running (especially the lakeshore trail, try it if you are ever in Chicago, it will change your view on running,) podcasting with my high school best friend, and also hunting to find the best avocado toast in the city (yes, this is an actual hobby of mine and if you have any suggestions, hit a sis up).
These two pictures were both taken on New Years Eve but two years apart with two very different mindsets.
Left:Eating solely to survive, no fitness “goals” other than to lose as much weight as possible and get as thin as I could, hated working out and viewed it as a punishment. My mind was obsessed with my routine and I feared deviating from it. This night, I ended up going to bed before midnight because I was too tired to stay up and knew I had to work out in the morning.
Right:Eating foods that fuel my body AND enjoying my food and workouts. Loving my body in whatever stage it is in at the moment, even if that is at a higher body fat percentage. Being able to live life again knowing I have the freedom to eat what I want while also being able to achieve the goals I have set for myself. This night, I stayed up past midnight and sipped champagne with my best friend, guilt free and happy.
NOT ALL BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES ARE ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT. SOME ARE ABOUT GAINING YOUR HAPPINESS.