*Written by Naomi Strauss*
Every day when I go on social media, my brain is flooded with images and ideas of what is considered “perfect.” Advertisements for the “perfect” body and “perfect” diet that I have to try” are constantly pushed on me.
These instances of “perfection” that I saw everyday had a detrimental effect on my self esteem. After realizing that what may work for one person does not work for everyone else, I instead decided to create a lifestyle that was “perfect” for me, and only me.
Throughout my time at Syracuse University, I have made a consistent effort to eat healthy and nutritious food while maintaining a workout routine.
Making time to be healthy has always been an issue for me, but since the very beginning of quarantine in mid-March, I realized how much control I actually have over my own life. I realized that if I wanted to become more comfortable with who I am, I needed to put in the time every day to do something for myself. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and become stronger mentally and physically. I devoted time daily to meditation, working out, and calling a friend. I put myself first, and in turn, made my health my number one priority.
Before I began this journey, I had become too comfortable with being at home all day with little to no movement. After becoming comfortable with who I was and my routine, I decided to challenge myself.
I set a goal to power walk every day. Even if some days I was only feeling a shorter walk to the stop sign and back, I still pushed myself to put on a pair of shoes and get outside. As I continued this routine for myself, I began to feel proud. Soon, I was able to walk at least five miles most days. My progress was so rewarding, and motivated me to keep pushing on. ..
I began to pay more attention to my diet over the summer, where I had more time to focus on my fitness. I realized that having a healthy lifestyle means disciplining yourself and nourishing your body, but also making room to enjoy certain foods and reward yourself. It felt good to eat a healthy and nutritious dinner and then indulge with a scoop of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream afterwards. I found that balance is key.
I wanted to fuel my body so I could feel my best every day; I took into consideration how the foods I ate made me feel. My priority became to make sure that I was getting enough vegetables and protein every day. In July, I decided to become a pescetarian. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I was able to do this, and I realized that this goal was easily achievable as I have still not eaten meat. I feel good about this.
The recipes I have found and my cooking have become much more creative and flexible. However, I also make sure to remind myself that this should not be restrictive: if I crave meat some day, I will listen to my body and eat it. Part of having a balanced lifestyle is to make sure you are not restricting your body of any foods.
Do not be afraid to try new things, use your intuition to feel your body’s reaction, and get outside for some movement and nature. You will find something that works for you. Remember, what is “perfect” for you, is not perfect for everyone.
Here are 5 key steps to a balanced lifestyle that helped me achieve my goals:
- Move your body for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week. This can include walking, running, dancing, etc…
- DRINK WATER! Today’s hydration determines how you will feel tomorrow.
- Eat fruits and vegetables every single day
- Remove negative thoughts
- Listen to your body!