Hello Adulthood: Healthy Living

My parents did a great job raising their kids in a healthy house. We were never concerned with weight, physical appearance, or trendy clothes. We ate hearty, home-cooked meals and I can honestly say that I was never self-conscious about my appearance as a teen. Here’s the thing, I’m really petite. I’m 5 feet tall and I broke the 100 pound mark in high school. I’m not “athletic” in the sense that I didn’t play sports as a kid/teen and because of this I sort of took it on as part of my identity. Since this was how I identified myself…other people did too and I ended up becoming the butt of many jokes throughout my life. While I was usually nodding in agreement, I think a lot of those jokes really affected me. To make someone feel like they can’t be physically active without looking like an idiot really prevents that person from ever attempting on their own.

For most of my life, however, it didn’t matter. I didn’t really need to workout because I always stayed relatively thin. But all of that changed once I got my first (miserable) full-time job. Leaving work for lunch was sort of my “escape” and because of that I developed really awful habits after I got married (and ultimately gained weight). The MOST frustrating part of the situation was when people made me feel guilty when I tried to get healthy. I would get, “Why do you need to work out? You’re little,” or “OMG stop. You look fine. What do you weigh 70 pounds?” Listen up all: being petitie is not equivalent to being healthy.

So finally this year I decided to make lifestyle changes. They included the following:

  • Remove gluten from my diet : I’ve been gluten free since February 2012 and I haven’t regretted it once. Oh and you can read my post about going gluten-free and some of my favorite products.
  • Workout regularly : No brainer, huh? In order to force myself to make it a habit, I joined a small gym down the street. I can walk there within two minutes and there are rarely more than 5 other people working out at the same time. We’ve met with a trainer a few times now and I’m excited to target reducing body fat (versus just reducing weight). I’m still kind of nervous to try group classes but I’m working up the courage.
  • Choose whole foods and avoid processed “foods” : When I look at ingredients, I have to be able to pronounce or identify every single one. Red dye? Potassium Bromate? Even white sugar. Uhh, no thanks. Because of this I cook a lot more and have been able to experiment with a lot of new produce.
  • Stick to red wine : I’ve eliminated beer (mostly because of gluten) and liquor. Why? Because I feel like sh*t when I drink. I was sick of ordering drinks just because everyone else was and then getting an awful headache or feeling nauseous. I can have a glass of red wine and feel good. I’m listening to my body now and it feels great.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite “healthy” products:

  1. My snazzy Adidas shoes. I had no idea how much a difference shoes make when working out. I feel like I could fly!
  2. Dr. Mercola and all his products. I love reading his articles. SUPER eye opening.
  3. Cold oats in the AM. Fuels my day in a delicious way. (Rhyme!)
  4. Royal matcha green tea (powder). Besides water…it’s like the best thing you can drink.
  5. [Not pictured] Agave Nectar, a natural sweetener. I’m officially off using sugar in my coffee and I love it.

Long story short: I feel great, I don’t get horrible headaches anymore, I have more energy and I’ve lost a few pounds! Win-win-win-win.

Have you made any lifestyle changes as an adult to benefit your health? Any bad habits you want to break? I’d love to discuss!

40 Comments

  1. Kim

    I can identify with so much in this post! I didn’t really “need” to workout until I was in my late 20s – early 30s after the birth of my second child. I was still well within normal weight limits, but things weren’t were they used to be and it was high time to get healthy.

    After staring the gluten-free diet in 2006, I really started to focus more on the foods that I put into my mouth and began to exercise on a regular basis. I began running in 2008 and haven’t looked back – now training for my 7th, 8th and 9th half marathons this fall.

    Oh, love red wine. It warms my soul!

    Great post!

    Kim

    • Kim- Thank you so much for sharing! I definitely resonate with your story. Removing gluten from my diet almost gave me that push. When you change your diet like that I think you’re forced to look at the other ways you treat your body. And I’m glad we both love wine :)

  2. I think it was key for me to figure out that my health is not about what I look like: it’s about what I can DO, and how I feel.

    Switching to this mindset profoundly changed my attitude about food and fitness. Bonus side effect? I feel great in what I wear and how I present myself to the world.

    Because at the end of the day, you can only be so skinny. But you can always get stronger, more flexible, have better endurance, etc.

    Thanks for sharing, Allie!

  3. Great post Allie. I am a big supporter of healthy living and find it extremely motivating to see others embracing this lifestyle as well.

    I’ve always been very much into working out, eating right and making changes but it was just this year that I have really focused on what my body needs specifically to get stronger and toner, rather than what all the books and skinny girls say.

    Now I’m on this major juice kick and trying to replace it with one meal or snack per day along with my regular workout routine, drinking green tea instead of coffee, cutting carbs, drinking less alcohol and you know what? I feel amazing!

    Keep up the awesome work!

    • That’s awesome Janine! Did you buy a juicer or are you getting juices from Market District?

      • I haven’t bought a juicer yet. I probably will in the next couple months but to be honest, just don’t have the kitchen space for another machine!I have been trying new juice recipes and taking them to Market District to juice for me. Then I freeze and drink within a couple days. Pretty inexpensive and unbelievably healthy.

        • It is SO inexpensive at Market District. I almost feel like I’m stealing from them
          Haha. Let me know what types of juice combos end up being your favorite!

  4. I’ve also started focusing on healthy living in just the past couple years. In high school I swam and played sports, so I never had to know how to “work out”, and I could pretty much eat what I wanted. This definitely caught up with me in college – I usually felt lethargic and just unhealthy.

    Now I eat a pretty clean diet and (try to) workout regularly. The thing I’m most surprised about is how interested I am in learning more about health and fitness – it’s definitely turned into a passion of mine!

    Oh and I also love cold oats. :)

  5. i have always been a jock, so i can’t really relate to that part – but people who body shame small people? arrrgh, that shit drives me crazy.

    i’m guessing there will never be an end to the changes drew and i have to make in order to be healthier. we are already living a very healthy and productive lifestyle, but anyone can always be in a better place than they are now.

    • Yes. Body shaming small people really gets under my skin. My mom is a really small woman and went to the doctor decades ago and he basically said she was close to be obese! No one could have guessed but I hate the guilt “taller or larger” women try to put on me.

  6. Great tips. I am also trying to cut out Gluten from my diet. It’s really nice to see that a lot of popular restaurants are also now offering gluten free substitutions. It’s nice for times when I am always on the go and have no choice but to eat out (although, i prefer preparing my own meals when I can)

  7. I feel like I was reading my own experience. I am also petite. 5’2.5″ (half to throw in the 1/2 inch!). When I talk about eating healthy or needing to work out guys at work say the same things you wrote. Like why would I need to work out when I am so small. I also get the looks/comments when I say things like, I need to lose about 5-10 lbs, and they don’t get it. I have to tell them that 5-10lbs shows up MUCH more on a short gal like me than on someone who is taller. That frame of reference USUALLY helps them understand.

    I’ve been struggling for the past 5 months with a sudden gain of 8-10lbs and I’ve been thinking about going gluten free, I am just worried about switching foods. Also, come to find out my thyroid might be out of whack.

    Thanks for sharing your story AND your favorites. I’ll be checking out some of them. As for group classes, I say go for it. Just find a place in the back if you’re uncomfortable. I don’t like working out in a gym, except for group classes, I guess because I feel like I can blend in more in a group.

    • Hi Jenn! I’m so glad you commented so I could discover your awesome blog! And it feels really good to know others can relate. I probably put on 15 lbs after I got married and it really shocked me. I’ve lost about 6 since last year but it’s hard to be motivated when people react the way they do. When you’re so petite, you’re going to weigh less but it still needs to make sense. I’d rather weigh MORE with muscle anyway.

      As for the gluten free thing- it really wasn’t too tough for me. I’m thinking about creating an easy, affordable meal plan for people who want to give it a shot and let them download it for free on my blog as a PDF. Would you be interested? My sister has thyroiditis and celiac so I definitely know how hard it can be.

      Keep in touch and I’ll be browsing through your blog :)

      • thanks! I would LOVE a gluten free meal plan. Like I said, it has been on my mind for a while, but I have just been too scared to pull the trigger. I think sharing your experience and ideas for meals would be super helpful! gracias!

  8. Also, I subscribe to Dr Mercola’s newsletter (it IS an eye opener!) and have been thinking about getting that Hibiscus Tea. Have you tried it?

    • Yay! I love Dr. Mercola. I’m sure to some people he might seem a bit extreme but I’m a firm believer in altered diets vs medicine when possible. He always emphasizes that. I haven’t had the hibiscus tea- let me know if you get it and what you think!

  9. Kudos to you for taking things in your own hands. We’re so used to everyone being fat, that people get threatened when you, an already petite person wants to lose a few pounds. Good for you!

    I guess I’m want you might call a health nut. I always have been, for a number of reasons. But I didn’t really figure things out until about 6 years ago when I decided to go vegan. I know, it may not be the choice others would make, but for me it changed everything for the better.

    Like you, I’ve also gone gluten-free, & LOVE LOVE love it. I feel so much better. I’m a person with a lot of food in tolerances, which some may look at as a lame-O position to be in, but I’m grateful. I’ve finally figured out what I need to eat to feel (& look) fantastic. It’s a great place to be, in that sense.

    • Thank you for your encouraging comment! I love your blog and am excited to try some of your recipes. I love hearing each person’s own journey towards a healthy life. They’re also so different but the joy is always there!

  10. I can really identify with the part about not wanting to participate in something athletic if people joke about it. I was athletic when I was in high school. In college, I quit working out mostly because I wasn’t playing sports. I have a really difficult time just working out while not playing a sport because it becomes really boring to me. I’ve always had a high metabolism so I didn’t need to workout anyway. About two years ago I decided I needed to get back in shape, not to lose weight (because I didn’t need to), but just to be healthy. I had an incident in which the first time I decided to go running again, my running partner teased me a lot about only being able to run a “quarter mile” which after doing a Map My Run turned out to be a mile and a half. After that incident it’s been really hard to get the motivation to try running again. When people give others a hard time about their fitness ability, it definitely can hinder their path to getting healthy again.

    • Thanks for the comment Heidi! I agree- it really can deflate your confidence. And over the past few months I’ve realized that I actually do have endurance and great hand/eye coordination. I just don’t think I ever gave myself a chance to see it for myself.

      I hope our confidences can grow! We can do it and we’re strong!

  11. Just a heads up aka two cents worth – agave nectar isn’t the most healthy sugar alternative you can have. It’s essentially refined fructose which is pretty much the same as refined glucose. It’s been stripped of it’s healthy nutrients through processing and can put a heavy strain on your liver.

    It rates about a 15 to 30 on the glycemic index (same as honey). If you put it in your coffee, have you tried stevia?

    http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/healthy-sugar-alternatives/ – is a good table of Healthy Sugar Alternatives if you are interested :)

    • Ohh thanks for letting me know, Heather! I have been trying to learn a lot about sugar lately and that makes sense. Sugar is sugar to our body. So is refined white sugar essentially at the top of that range (30?).

      I bought stevia and I do not really like the taste. I’d rather just not sweeten my coffee, sadly. Oh and thanks for the link! I’ll check it out :)

    • Oh I just answered my own question after reading that article. So helpful!! Thanks :)

  12. ahh i made the switch to Agave too and I’ve never looked back! KUDOS to you lady!

  13. Amy

    I so identify with the part about not being active becoming part of your identity. I went to a girls’ school and was never pushed to do sports, and it sort of became my thing – something my family and friends would light heartedly tease me about. It’s taken at least a year of struggling with the gym to realise that I *can* run, and that it doesn’t have to be a big deal. I’m enjoying exercise for the first time, and it’s great! Similar to you, I am petite and am lucky that I have never needed to ‘watch my weight’ but there are always ways to be healthier. I love the smugness I get when I’ve run a 5k as well, although I know that’s not really the point!

    • Yeah girl!! It does suck that so many years of being embarrassed has to affect us like that but I’m proud of us for doing it anyways! It’s fun to learn that you aren’t awkward or a klutz.

  14. Good for you! Sounds like you were really lucky to have a great upbringing and be happy with yourself for those important years–I wasn’t. =( But now I am. Anyways, cool to hear about other people cutting out gluten and processed foods–I’m mostly raw vegan but have found a balance of things I can and can’t eat, and I find that I can flex here and there but I avoid all grains and processed foods. It’s helped me stay at my best weight ever and kept my previous health problems away. Totally worth the (slight) sacrifice, and there are so many wonderful things you CAN eat.

  15. Phoebe

    Hey, Allison! I’ve tried Dr. Mercola’s hibiscus tea and it’s awesome.

  16. ok, so i’ve been wanting to share a bit on my health scare since you tweeted this. and yes, it is scary.

    i was vegan for a few years and then after a friend from canada visited in january, i stopped. how could i show her in n out and not feast with her, right? so i thought it’d be for the week she was here, but my diet was “secular” as i call it for a year. that same november i was in nyc and i had the worst pains ever. i had to cancel my trip and fly back home to rest. i was told from a nyc clinic i was fine and it was just gastritis but i needed to go home and rest. so i went home and all of december my stomach HURT, like i would rather give birth than ever feel this again. so come dec 31 (nye!) i go to the er. it wasn’t gastritis. it was an infected pancreas, infected kidney and a gallbladder so swollen it was pushing my intestines out of place. the reason? my diet. there was nothing to deny, my dr’s told me it was my poor diet. I went from being super healthy to being in the er having to get my infected gallbladder removed. ughhhh. lesson learned; never compromise your health!

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing that Diana. It’s so crazy that we compromise so much for that instant (and temporary) satisfaction. I basically ate like CRAP the past 3 years and gained way too much weight for my small frame. It’s crazy. I am so glad I changed my diet this past February. Not only has my personality changed but I don’t feel so crappy all the time.

      Are you back to being vegan? Any other tips you’d give to someone that doesn’t feel like they can make the change?

      • I’m not vegan, but more borderline pescatarian. We only eat organic, wild fish, not farmed and it has it has to be fresh, not cooked in oil.

        The only advice I’d have for someone regarding health is it’s not worth it. I’m 31 now and after a painful surgery and year long recovery, it’s okay to indulge every now and then, but ultimately, it’s not worth it.

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