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)
Yes to spiralized veggies! I just bought one a few weeks ago and have been having so much fun spiralizing zucchini and sweet potatoes! So many fun recipes to try!
Love these tips, Grace! I can’t even imagine life before my Vitamix. Seriously, I use it twice a day. I like to think of it as an investment in my health. Plus they last a lifetime. Agreed- best purchase ever!
Grace… it’s posts like this that really impress me and make me look up to you as a blogger (cheesy alert!) You aren’t being preachy or smug, you’re just explaining what works for you and even though these are all fairly self-explanatory, your anecdotes and explanations make them seem so easy and accessible. Love it 🙂
i love this post! Super helpful and doable but also some unique tips. Can you write more about specific ideas for spiralizing and Vitamix? Love your green juice idea. Xoxo
This is so so true! Bo and I have incorporated a number of these into our life this year and LOVE the way we feel!
Great tips Grace! All of them are completely on point. I bought a Blendtec a couple of years ago and agree it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I’ve gotten a little off track with my morning smoothies and instead have been indulging in a dessert-like concoction of almond milk, peanut butter, banana and strawberry. Not quite as healthy as starting the day with a green smoothie, but better than other desserts I could have! I plan to put some of your other tips into action.
I loved reading this post Grace, so helpful to hear your tips. I love that you are noting things that you truly do and use on the daily…so much easier to relate to! I am right there with you about a Vitamix..I stayed away from buying one for a while because it just seemed too expensive. However, last year I finally bought one and it was the best decision ever…AMAZING! Love the idea of a bracelet to use to track how much water you have had in a day..such a smart idea!!
These are such great tips! I love the being vegan at home thing. I was the same – I eat more indulgent food with other people, then at home I’ll make a big pile of veggies and be very happy. However I have just moved in with my boyfriend and this doesn’t seem to work anymore… I’ll serve up a vegetarian meal and he’ll ask where the meat is haha. I’ll persuade him to come round…
Thanks for the book recommendations. I also love Deliciously Ella’s book. Her blog is really good too http://deliciouslyella.com with healthy desserts and baked treats as well as main meals.
Really great, inspiring read. I love that you included tips because they work for you, not because they necessarily apply to everyone (like the cab tip). It makes these ideas feel so much more original!
I need to work on drinking a glass of water before meals. That would make a huge difference for me, I’m sure!
#6 is something I’ve been trying to do more of. Whenever I get a free 30 minutes at work I walk the blcok to at least get some movement in.
Hello There, Lady!
how do you make your almond milk? Do you use it only in your coffee?
Hi Terri! It’s really easy! You take one cup of almonds and soak them in water for six hours (I usually just soak ’em overnight) and then add the almonds + three cups of water to your Vitamix (or any other high powered blender) and blend until it makes a milk. Then you can strain the milk with a fine strainer (I actually don’t strain mine as I like the thicker texture.) I usually just drink it with my coffee but you could also add cacao/hot chocolate powder, or vanilla extract, or drink it by itself.
I can be down with all except for #3. Tried it and it’s so hard to stay vegan when you love eggs and dairy.
http://www.designers-artists.com // http://www.dnatheshop.com
Oh I totally agree. I just mean that learning to make vegan alternatives is really beneficial. I still eat eggs all the time and dairy when I’m out to dinner. 🙂
So many great tips!
Love reading about tips to be healthier. Now that the weather is warming uo I will start walking to work instead of taking the bus. Also have started drinking freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in the morning which I love 🙂
Love this guide – I’m definitely inspired to move away from traditional working hours too.
I love this post so much! I really need to start juicing more, but don’t have a very powerful blender so it never quite turns out right. Maybe I shall look into getting a Vitamix 🙂
Numbers 8 + 9 all the way! I think it’s so important to try new things and see what works for your body and your schedule. And if you can make it social…even better! A little vino after class counts as hydration, right?
Hey! Have you ever heard about Ella? She as a blog and a book both called Deliciously Ella! She is vegetarian (almost vegan, but she uses honey)! Its a amazing source of information and yummy recipes! 😀
I loved this post Grace! Especially the last comment about how being healthy is about the little things… A huge momentous overhaul is intimidating, but I like little, incremental changes. Like drinking more water, trying a new recipe once a week (the veggie spiralizer looks awesome!) and finding a class that works for you. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
omg I love how you call yourself a social dairy eater. i’m the same way, typically leading a paleo lifestyle, but when out I often let loose. My friends always assume I’ll say no to a cheese plate but in reality it’s one of my favorite things. All about balance! Love this post and now am even more tempted to splurge on a Vitamix!
This is such a helpful post! I just got an Inspiralizer and am excited to try it. I LOVE Exhale their Core Fusion Extreme and Core Barre classes are my favorites. That green juice sounds good – I really have to give green juice a shot…
The Vitamin changed my (kitchen) life! Everything from juices to soups, it performs miracles!
I love this post – I, too, have been taking baby steps to get healthier, for the long run, not for quick weigh loss. In the last 6 months, I’ve lost almost 25lbs (and counting!). I agree that finding something active that you love is absolutely key – not only to maintain a healthy weight, but to keep your heart healthy too! As someone who works 2 jobs (or for anyone trying to change her life), convenience is absolutely key to maintaining good habits. My workouts of choice are FlyWheel and barre classes, which I also supplement with walking home from work (2 miles). Boutique classes are worth the investment and make me accountable for attending. I totally agree that a community setting helps tremendously too! As far as food goes, I also use precut, or precooked foods to make easy meals. Whole Foods is my savior! My favorite/easiest is the premarinated chicken breasts (just throw that thing on a George Foreman grill) and a green salad with oil/vinegar/salt/pepper. If I’m so inclined I pick up pre-cut veggies from the produce department, stir fry meat from the meat department to make a quick stir fry (takes less than 10 minutes) and the precooked brown rice from the hot foods bar. I know a lot of people try to stay away from carbs – but whole grains are a great source of B vitamins, iron and fiber. I cook enough to have lunch the next day, and put a lunch size portion right into tupperware, so I am not tempted to eat ALL.THE.FOOD. I also started ending my night with herbal tea instead of a glass of wine or ice cream.
Thanks Grace for a great post – and lots of great ideas. I think I’m adding a Vitamix to my list of must-haves!!!
Great tips Grace! I have been looking for a spiralizer, the size and price of yours is exactly what I need! So happy the weather is better in NYC – makes it so much more enjoyable to walk!
Water is so important! So many people forget about keeping hydrated, or don’t drink as much as they should (myself included). I started doing PiYo at home, and the fact that I can get a 30 min workout in each day without ever leaving the house is amazing! I connect with challengers every single day in our online challenge group, and although it’s not a class in person, it’s incredible to have such an amazing support system to keep me motivated and accountable on a daily basis. 🙂
Love the health advice!