General thoughts on healthy living

Why have I decided to suddenly write a blog post about healthy living?

Well there’s several possible reasons. The first could be that I’ve read two books over the last few months that have inspired me to exercise more (not that I have yet, but they’ve made me want to). Then there’s the fact that I’ve gained a fair bit of weight since I came home for the summer holidays, due to lack of exercise (apart from three weeks abroad during which I swam most days) and larger portion sizes/ more meals in general. Finally is the fact that I go back to London properly on Monday, so need to start organising my life for the next term.

I’m overweight. That’s a fact. I’m not fat, just large enough for one of my nicknames to be “Tubs” (I let my closest friends get away with a lot). But yes, I’m not overweight to the point that if I toned up a little and not lost weight, I’d still look awful – if I toned up a little, I’d look fine. I do look fine. I’m just slightly heavier than I should be. When I was 13/14 though, I wasn’t overweight – I was perfectly normal, and I looked a heck of a lot slimmer than I do now. I remember watching my face change shape on holiday in France when my family ate cheese and baguette every day for lunch. It’s no wonder I gained weight. But because I’ve watched myself gain several stone in the last few years, I would like to lose some again. Not a lot necessarily – I’d be happy with losing just one.

So my thoughts turn to healthy living. Not to “dieting”. Having studied biology, biological anthropology and (most importantly) posessing a fair amount of common sense, I know two things: 1) Most diets are fads that don’t work in the long run, and 2) I could never stick to them. Starving yourself (or only allowing to eat cabbage soup or something equally as stupid) is just dumb. You’ll lose weight, certainly. But as soon as you start eating normally again, you’re going to put it all back on. Almost all diets that you hear about in the media are not sustainable, although some may allow you to lose a bit initially. And I do not want to be one of those women who’ve been on a diet for most of their lives by the time they’re fifty. There are only several fad diets that I wouldn’t mind trying as one-off curiosity things, and they include the raw food diet and the juice diet (I think that’s the one I’m thinking of), and that’s purely because I know they both contain a fair number of nutrients, and my diet could definitely do with throwing a few more vitamins in.

Whilst I’m not wanting to starve myself, I do want to think about my food intake. I’m going to be completely in charge of what goes into my body, so I should be careful-ish of that. Ish because that doesn’t mean I’m never going to let myself eat something fatty or sugary every now and then.

My diet last year was lazy. Pasta was eaten a lot, and out of my pasta meals, pesto was the most common accompaniment. Every now and then I did eat some fruit, but not a great deal. Neither did I eat a great amount of vegetables – we couldn’t work out how to turn the temperature down in our fridge, so they’d go off fairly quickly. I also ate quite a few ready meals, and that means a fair number of curries. This distresses me a little, because I know how many calories are in one readymeal curry. You don’t need to be calorie counting to know that taking in over half your recommended daily allowance in one meal isn’t the best idea.

So I’ve been thinking of what I should do for food this year. First of all, I want to be less lazy. I’m actually going to make pots of food that I can then freeze and save for another day, rather than sticking to making fast one-person meals. I want to increase my fruit and veg consumption, take advantage of the fact that there’s a grocery shop opposite me which has lots of different fruit and veg on display outside (and sells the most amazing nectarines). Having looked through various healthy living websites, I feel that I should at least try to do the following: 1. Stay hydrated – I drink a lot of caffeine (mainly tea). I should try to drink more water, fruit juice, green/herb teas etc. 2. Eat a variety of nuts and seeds, which contain oils and vitamins that I don’t often get. 3. Eat more pulses – beans, lentils etc.

This leads me to think… should I try being vegetarian next term? Part of me says yes, but the other part of me reminds me that I do actually love meat, and my flatmates and I were thinking of doing a roast dinner as soon as we’re all settled into the flat properly. So maybe I should try to be mostly-vegetarian. After all, I don’t have a problem with eating animals. If we weren’t meant to eat meat, we wouldn’t be able to. We wouldn’t have the teeth, and we wouldn’t be able to digest it. Yes, we can digest non-animal products better, but some studies suggest that we wouldn’t have evolved the way we have (with our large brains and intelligence especially) had we not eaten meat. So yeah, we’re animals. Plenty of animals eat other animals. I don’t see it being a moral issue to eat meat (ignore the arguement that farming meat uses too many resources, I can understand that – I mean moral issue as in “oh it’s so cruel to the poor fluffy bunny”).

And when I’m feeling less motivated to eat well, I should just nip into Planet Organic – that shop always makes me wish I could afford to shop there and eat very healthily. Only let myself buy drinks and snacks there as a treat.

The final part of my healthy living ramble (and it is rambling, I’m so sorry about that), is exercise. This is something that I’ve managed to avoid for a large portion of my life. Things did turn around a bit last year – I bought a gym membership and used it quite a bit in my third term, and I also did a heck of a lot of walking. But the gym was on the street behind me, and whilst there’s a gym on the same street as my new flat, the price is astronomical. I’m not becomming a member. I do want to do exercise this year though (need to, not just want to), so I’m thinking of buying a set of weights and starting running. I’m not a runner, and I’m not a weight lifter at all. But those two books I mentioned earlier? Well one was “Born to Run”, which has made me really want to try, and the other was “Smart Girls Do Dumbbells”, which made starting weights sound easy enough, and I have no upper body strength at all so it would be good to develop. The two together, if I actually start them and keep them going, will be a lot cheaper than a gym membership and should still be enough to keep me healthier.

And there we go. My “general thoughts on healthy living” turned into a ramble, and was a lot longer than I thought it would be. We’ll see if I actually stick to anything.

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About Anna

21 year old anthropology student living in London, trying to get something done with her life.
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