Creating Your Healthy Lifestyle

Hey there, lovelies!

Today I want to offer a post focused on some of the ways I have created my own healthy lifestyle that I believe can help you create one for yourself. I think it is so important for women to understand that there are so many ways to create a healthy lifestyle specifically for you. In order to make something that is going to be sustainable and realistic, we need to create something specifically designed for you and only you. The schedule that I use and the routine I personally stick to may not necessarily be the best thing for you, simply because we are different people with different preferences and priorities. So below I have laid out some great guidelines for anyone who is seeking to reinvent their lifestyle and take charge of their health and fitness. I hope that this post will leave you feeling motivated and ready to take the first steps in creating a healthy lifestyle that will work for you. And don’t forget, while the idea is to create something designed for you, there are so many of us here to help you figure it out! ❤

Make Your Health A Priority! 

Without a doubt, the very first step before you take on anything else is to make your health and fitness a priority. I mean really think about that for a minute and commit to taking good care of your body, mind, and soul. Without that commitment to yourself the rest of this will be a whole lot harder to maintain! Make a list of all of the reasons you can think of for why you should be making a change and why you are committed to making it happen. But don’t forget to keep it positive! Like I talked about in my last post, it is so important to do things for the right, positive reasons, and this is no exception. Take a look at my previous post, “Strong, Not Skinny” for more on that topic.

Set Realistic Goals

One of the most common reasons why women end up giving up on a routine is because it wasn’t well-suited for them to begin with. In other words, they set goals that are not attainable based on the rest of their life and responsibilities, and end up feeling like a failure for not being able to keep up. So I say let’s avoid that situation altogether by starting off on the right foot and setting challenging, but realistic goals. Here’s an example of what I mean from my own experience: I work a full-time job, I have a husband, I have an apartment to keep clean, meals to cook, my sanity to keep, etc. Taking all of that into account I can say that it’s probably not realistic for me to expect myself to workout every single day. So what did I do to achieve my goals, remain consistent and avoid being in a situation where I feel like I’ve failed? I decided to workout 3-4 times a week, consistently. Being of the “give it your all” mindset most of the time, that was a hard thing for me to do at first because I felt like I could be pushing myself harder than that. But what happened was something so exciting to me that it was one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place! I found that in sticking to that routine I was not only reaching my fitness goals (these are goals like doing 20 push-ups, for example) without getting burned out, but I was becoming more and more motivated as time went on. Before I knew it I had accomplished my first set of fitness goals and was on to working out 4-5 times a week simply because I was having so much fun with it! It became one of my greatest forms of stress relief and something that I genuinely looked forward to rather than seeing it as one more thing to get done. It allowed me enough structure and consistency to make progress while still allowing enough wiggle room for the things that are bound to come up. As I’ve had to learn the hard way, you don’t always have to suck it up, get it over with, push on through. I’m a big believer that there are ways to create a routine that you thrive on, no matter the rest of your life’s duties.

Listen to Your Body

Having a routine that fits you well allows you to do one of the most important things you can do when it comes to health and fitness: listen to your body! Similar to what I said above, so many women end up giving up because they ignore the things their body is telling them and end up running themselves into the ground. A huge point I want to stress in this blog is to not only listen to your body but to work with your body. Allowing yourself that little bit of wiggle room keeps you from missing your body’s messages and helps you stay balanced. If you’re feeling under the weather you can hear those messages and know that maybe you should take it easy that day and let your body rest. Or, on the other side, if you’ve had a particularly good and energetic week you can add on another workout if you feel like it. All of this is just to emphasize the power that you can have from listening to and working with your body to achieve your goals, rather than trying to force progress while drowning out the noise of your body’s messages.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

So many girls have come to me and asked what my secret is, what I do to not only remain toned, but to continue to gain strength. My answer is always summed up in this one point right here: be consistent. That can sound intimidating because life happens, right? But in my points above I’ve explained some of the ways that I am able to be consistent while still being balanced. The truth of the matter is that you’re not going to lose weight, get defined abs, tone your thighs, get a booty or any of those goals you may have if you aren’t consistent. The beauty of it is that being consistent and maintaining a routine doesn’t have to be all-encompassing and daunting. When you find the right balance for you it will transform not only your body, but your mindset. The trick is developing a routine that is challenging without being overwhelming, that allows wiggle room without dismissing the need to stick with it.

Don’t Say Goodbye to Cheeseburgers Just Yet…

“People who are fit and ‘healthy’ are miserable and deprive themselves! Why would I do that to myself?” Behold, a comment I hear now and then (that honestly makes me really upset) from people who are skeptical about this whole healthy lifestyle thing. It always makes me really sad when I hear stuff like that, because unfortunately, society has given them reason to say those things. It doesn’t have to be that way! There are too many people out there who simply don’t know the foods they should and shouldn’t eat, the ways they can be active to fit their body, the ways they can assist their body to function properly. Living a healthy lifestyle should be all about educating yourself in the things your body does and doesn’t need and working with it to provide or avoid those things. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself 24/7, it means you try to fuel your body with the things you know it needs most (from food to exercise to sleep, etc.). And guess what? Eating unhealthy food now and then isn’t going to suddenly negate all of your progress! Just like missing a workout every now and then isn’t going to somehow make you gain ten pounds over night. In fact, I think it’s great to have a treat here and there. All things in moderation, it’s all about balance. There are also so many ways to make healthy foods in a way that you’ll genuinely enjoy! No need to eat salads all the time or munch on carrot sticks even if you hate carrots, people. Don’t fall for this sad narrative that taking care of your body is a miserable way to live, it doesn’t have to be that way! There are so many people out here along with me to help you create a healthy lifestyle that will work well for you.

There you have it, those are the main points I think are a great starting point if you’re trying to take charge of your health and fitness. Even if you’ve been sticking to a routine for a while, these points can be great reminders of what’s really important! I want to encourage you, to motivate you and help you achieve your goals. Feel free to contact me if you need help getting started and we can work together to find a routine that is realistic and sustainable for you! ❤ Thank you for reading!

 

xoxo, Mary.

 

Strong, Not Skinny

Hey there, lovelies!

Today’s blog post is all about self-love and healthy forms of motivation. The message that I want to put out there for other women is to be healthy and strong, not skinny and weak. There are so many ways to maintain a lean and mean physique in a way that strengthens and nourishes your body. That being said, even if you’re someone who loves to work out, I think we all have moments when we slip into some dangerous thoughts and negativity regarding anything from lack of motivation, to lack of noticeable progress, or (maybe most dangerous of all) what the scale or the mirror tells us. I’ve been there… I still go there sometimes, unfortunately. But I’m here to share the things that have turned my attitude around in ways I never could have imagined.

First, some background: I know I’m not the only girl out there that’s struggled with her body image and I know that a lot of you can probably relate to what I’m about to talk about. I’ve been down some dark and dangerous roads in the ways I used to treat myself, all because from a very young age I would look in the mirror and see someone who I thought was ugly, worthless, and just plain wrong. For a long time I didn’t properly take care of myself, in part just because I was young and didn’t really understand how yet. Heck, I’m still learning! 😉 But with time and a whole lot of help from God and loved ones, I conquered some of the most aggressive demons I had been facing for so long. I realized that I had been hurting myself in more ways than one, and hurting those who cared for me in the process… I didn’t want to do it anymore, I couldn’t keep hurting myself and those I love. I found that I was desperate for more information on how to properly take care of myself, and I found ways to fight those negative and harmful thoughts that still attack me today. So all that being said, below are the things that have helped me to overcome and thrive.

  • Redefining Myself – Trying to See Myself Through God’s Eyes

I remember one night I was crying on my sweet husband’s shoulder, asking him  why I was so broken and wrong… downer, right? He responded, “If only I could make you see yourself the way I see you, or, better yet, the way God sees you.” In that moment something clicked. I knew that God loves me and that He made us in His own image. I remembered my Mom quoting Psalm 139 where it says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I knew that God doesn’t make mistakes, He didn’t mess up when He made me! Looking back now I’m somewhat ashamed that I even truly thought that the way I turned out was a mistake… but it’s honestly what I thought. I could feel a burden lifting off of my shoulders as I realized that I could be free from this horrible weight of self-hatred if I could try and see myself through His eyes. So what do I do? Every day when I look myself in the mirror I reaffirm what I know to be true: that God loves me and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. The same is true for you! ❤

  • Do It For The Right Reasons!

I’m sure you’ve also had that moment when you come home from work or school, you’ve had a long day and you know you still have a lot to do… including working out. If you’re like me, you start to spiral out of control and get more and more overwhelmed until you’re in a really negative place mentally and emotionally. I remember one night in particular when I was exhausted and down, I looked in the mirror as I changed into my workout clothes and BAM! The thought of “yuck, of course I have to workout to fix that!” came into my mind and I found myself pushing through a workout that I was much too tired for, only to finish it feeling resentful toward myself for not doing a better job and not working out harder. Not cool, not cool at all. As I talked with my hubby about it in all of my anger and frustration that evening, he made another really good point (I swear, I’m married to the sweetest man alive!). He said, “Have you ever thought that maybe you’re doing this for the wrong reasons? You workout to ‘fix’ what you see to be wrong with your body instead of working out to take care of it and strengthen it. You have to do it for positive reasons!”. He was exactly right, negativity only breeds more negativity. You’re never going to find yourself enjoying your workouts and taking care of your body, soul and mind if you’re doing it for toxic reasons you’ve gotten stuck on in your head. The next day when I went to workout, I felt once again like a huge burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. I decided to listen to my body and train according to what I knew I could handle instead of pushing myself to an unhealthy extent. I felt refreshed and genuinely proud of myself at the end of each session, and I couldn’t wait for my next workout! With this new mindset I could challenge myself and make noticeable progress in a healthy way, knowing that it was okay for me to have an off day now and then. This, my friends, is a huge part of what makes a healthy lifestyle sustainable!

  • Don’t Listen to the Scale or the Thigh-Gap

I personally have a rule that I do not step on a scale to track my progress. Of course, there are reasons why you may need to track your weight (maybe your goal at the moment is to lose a certain amount of weight for health reasons or maybe you’re tracking your weight in pregnancy, etc.) and that is totally fine! In my case I personally avoid the scale because I’ve seen the power those silly numbers can have over me and it just isn’t necessary. The same goes for trends and #bodygoals like the thigh gap or any others you can think of. I’m a short girl, I’ve got short legs, in order for me to have a thigh gap I would need to have pretty much no meat on my bones! No thank you, I’ll stick to having my muscular thighs that touch together. 😉 What really matters is how you feel and whether you’re happy with the progress you’re making according to the goals you’ve set for yourself. Which brings me to my next point.

  • Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

This is a topic that I’ll be going into more detail about in another post coming soon, there’s a lot that I want to share that I think will be really helpful! For this post I’ll say that you don’t need to push yourself to extreme lengths to get results and maintain a fit and healthy body. Working out 3 or 4 times a week, for example, is far more sustainable, realistic, and better for your body and mind than pushing yourself to workout every day. More than likely you’re in a situation like me where you work full-time, you have family responsibilities, etc. So set goals that challenge you to work hard and be consistent, but there’s no need to go to the extreme.

  • Don’t You Wanna Be a Badass?

I want to encourage and empower other women to strive for more, to be strong, to be healthy, to be fit, to show that you can kick some butt! A huge turning point for me was when I realized that being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy, it doesn’t mean you’re strong. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a tooth-pick, I want to be strong, lean and mean! 😉

So there you go, ladies! I have so much exciting content that I cannot wait to post in the near future, including more in-depth information on my workouts, goals, and ways to achieve a healthy and fit lifestyle. I wanted this post to come first before all of the rest because I really feel like it lays the groundwork for everything that is to come in the future. Thank you so much for reading!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now go out there and kick some butt!                                                                                      xoxo,

Mary.

My Very First Post!

Hello!
I’ll start off by welcoming you to my blog and saying how excited I am to have this platform to share the things I am most passionate about. I hope that everyone who reads my posts will be encouraged and enlightened by what I have to say. In this initial post, I want to lay out for you a little bit of my background and my plans for the content to come.
My name’s Mary, I’m a 21 year-old Christian wife who hopes to encourage women to nourish and strengthen their body, soul, and mind. I currently reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my hubby/best friend/high school sweetheart, Alastair. We’re both originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, where we met back in the Fall of 2012. We got engaged in March, 2016 and were married on December 29th, 2016. I work as a full-time nanny while my fella goes to school at Calvin College. As we’ve taken on this adventure of being on our own here in Michigan, I’ve had the opportunity to hold onto and grow closer to God. Starting this new and beautiful life with my husband has come with the hardship of homesickness, but there have been so many blessings and so much positivity that has come from that struggle! While I’ve drawn closer to God in this time I have also enjoyed diving deeper into my passion for health and fitness. I truly believe that women have such a unique and beautiful strength that deserves to be cared for and nourished. I’ve named this blog “Strength, Faith, Positivity” because I believe these things reflect what I strive for in order to have a balanced life: a strong body, a deep and profound faith, and a positive mindset. I’ve come to believe that a healthy and balanced lifestyle can be attainable and realistic no matter the craziness you may deal with daily. I hope to share these things with you as I continue to learn and grow, and I hope that you’ll join this journey with me!

The content of this blog will include the following categories:

  •  Health and Wellness
    • Fitness
    • Hormonal Health and Balance
    • Mental Health
  • Beauty
  • Faith
  • Homemaking
    • Cooking, Baking, and Meal Prepping
    • Organization
  • Marriage and Relationships

Look out world, this lil’ lady has a lot to say! 😉 I’m so looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned and discovered on my journey so far, and I’m sure there will be plenty of new lessons and thoughts to share as my journey continues.

xoxo,
Mary Van Maren.