I’ve been living the freelance life for about a month now and am shocked by how much healthier I’ve gotten since moving to a less traditional schedule. I never realized exactly how sedentary I’d become (basically sitting for ten hours straight!) or how bad my office eating habits had become. I’m still in the office two days a week (and often sitting for a very long time when at home working!) but the first step is to become aware of bad habits… and the next step is to take steps to fix them. Non-office days are easy. I’m often running around the city for meetings + presentations… and my fridge is always stocked with healthy snacks. It’s the office days that are hard. Sitting all day, and all of the tempting treats! (Bagels, sweets, candy dispensers… all wonderful perks from my day job, but definitely not so great when it comes to fitting into my bikini come summer!)
I’m no expert but here’s what’s working for me!
1. Start every day with a big glass of lemon water + something green. On my office days, I grab a green juice en route to the office. At home, I make something in my Vitamix. My current fave is a little bit random made of one cup water; a handful of each spinach, kale, + strawberries; a small chunk of ginger, and half of a cucumber. Having a green juice before you’ve had your coffee wakes up your body, jump starts your metabolism, and starts your day on a healthier note.
2. Buy a Vitamix. OK. I really hate that my second tip is telling you to buy this super expensive product, but this is worth saving up for. I make the most creamy, decadent (vegan!!) soups in mine, and every week I make fresh almond milk for my coffee. It’s truly amazing what you can make with it, and the effect it has on the texture of your food makes it so worth it. Even just for smoothies, it’s amazing how much better they are when made in the Vitamix. Tip: buy a refurbished model to save $$$. I still say it’s the best purchase I’ve ever made. Ever… better than any designer bag or pair of shoes.
3. Master vegan cooking. This sounds really weird, as I am totally NOT a vegan. I love meat. I try to avoid gluten, and consider myself a social dairy eater (kind of like being a social drinker… when I’m out with my friends or a boy I have cheese plates and/or ice cream, but when I’m at home I don’t really eat it.) I feel better without both of them.. but I’m not allergic and don’t think I’ll ever fully give them up. That said, cooking vegan has taught me some incredible things about cooking healthier. Want to make a creamy tomato soup? Blend soaked cashews + vegetable broth (in your Vitamix!) to make a creamy base. Avocado is amazing in desserts, and using the right spices changes everything. My three favorite cookbooks right now are It’s All Good (by Gwyneth), Oh She Glows, and Bountiful (a gift from my girl Felicia, who is always posting healthy recipes on her blog.) I’ve been studying (seriously, studying!) all three books and have learned so much. After making so many of their recipes, I’ve started tinkering around on my own and it’s been fascinating what you can make with plant-based ingredients.
4. Spiralize! Do you read Inspiralized? Ali’s blog (and her new cookbook) will change your life. For real. I love pasta, so so much. I love her recipes but you can simplify it even further. On nights where I want comfort food, I’ll spiralize half of a zucchini and make an easy meat sauce (tomato sauce + a little extra garlic + ground beef) You’ll swear you’re having spaghetti bolognese. Life changing. I love + use this spiralizer. It’s not the fanciest one, but it is small (and so is my kitchen!)
5. Drink more water. Everyone says this, all of the time, but hydration is so important. If you drink a big glass of water before mealtime, you’ll fill up quickly. Hydration is also key for good skin. When I drink enough water, my skin looks so much better. It’s such a tiny thing, but makes a huge difference. Chelsea Charles makes a cool bracelet (I have this one) that helps you track how many glasses of water you’ve had. I may or may not sometimes use mine to track my cocktail intake… 😉
6. Move every day, as much as you can. I noticed a HUGE difference in how much I move on my non-office days vs. my office days. It’s hard when you’re at your desk from 9 til 5 (or 7 or 8pm, haha) It’s easy to dole out advice like… “take a walk during lunch,” but that’s just not realistic for everyone. At my day job, no one takes a real lunch break. So I at least try to get outside and walk to get my lunch. And around 3pm I take a walk to get a coffee. But the biggest thing is that if I need something from a coworker I walk over to see them vs. sending them a chat. If you have a fitness bracelet, you can use idle alerts to make sure you get up every hour.
7. Along those lines… for the city dwellers in the group, I’ve found that implementing a no cabs rule (originally for budgeting reasons) has also been really helpful in terms of moving more. The subway is often faster, + I try to run the stairs when I’m on my own.
8. Find an exercise class that is convenient for you, that you actually like doing. For me, the biggest realization was that my workout class needed to be nearby. Exhale’s Gramercy location is steps from my apartment so I go there a LOT. And Soul Cycle has become more of a social outing. It kicks my butt, but it’s like therapy for me. I never miss a class because I truly love it so much… going feels like a special treat.
9. Along those lines… make exercise social! I love a good happy hour. But meeting a girlfriend for a spin or yoga class and then grabbing a juice (or even wine, why not) afterward is so much more rewarding… and helps keep you accountable as you can’t skip out on class if you’re meeting a friend.
10. Load up on healthy, portable snacks. I’m a big fan of KIND Bars (Their Honey Mustard flavor is everything!) and Nourish Snacks (I wrote more about Nourish here.) I keep both at home, in my purse, + in my desk drawer at the office for when I get hungry and might be tempted by something less nutritional.
Being healthier doesn’t have to mean huge, dramatic changes. It’s doing lots of little things that ultimately make the difference (and keep you on track in the long run.)
photography by Lydia Hudgens. (taken last year)