How to create a healthy lifestyle you actually like living

How to create a healthy lifestyle you actually like living

Motivation doesn’t come easy when we are trying something new. It’s scary and can be intimidating. For years I would sign up for gym memberships thinking *that* time would somehow magically be different.

I’d finally be well on my way to the perfect and happy life I thought weight loss would bring. And time after time, I’d cancel my membership just a few short months after signing up. No where closer to where I wanted to be than when I signed up in January.

I had no clue where to start or what to do. Everyone at the gym seemed like they belonged there, everyone except me. Day after day, I’d quietly put myself on a cardio machine in the corner praying no one would notice me. Eventually I did get up the courage to go ‘play’ with some weights. But I was still clueless.

Fitness can help you see what is possible for yourself but physique goals should be secondary to what creating healthy habits and investing in yourself does for you and in the world around you.

 Fitness was a floodgate for me. Once I finally figured out how to create healthier habits I started to see what else was possible in my life. Up to that point truthfully, I didn’t have much faith in myself. I had quit dreaming for myself, and was sucked into the daily grind. Though I had much of what I wanted–an amazing husband and two healthy kids, there was still something missing. 

As I became more confident in my ability to show up for myself and started making progress on my fitness goals, I began to  feel motivated, equipped, and ready to finally start tackling the other goals I had put on the shelf.

Fitness can become the same floodgate for you…once you figure it out that is. I want you to see what is possible for yourself if you learn how to create a healthy lifestyle you actually like living.  Abandon all the diet information; cookie cutter workout programs; and healthy meal plans. Focus that energy instead on creating a plan that was made just for you. 

I’m going to share with you four tips I wish someone would have given me when I was first starting my fitness journey.

Face your fears-What is the real reason you  are not taking action towards taking care of yourself?

Maybe it’s not knowing what to do. Maybe it’s because you struggle to see you deserve what’s on the other side of your fear.

Failure creates so much fear for people–especially women. You’ve got to let go of the idea of perfect and be willing to take massive imperfect action. Don’t see failure as a bad thing. Each time you fail, you’ve simply found one thing that won’t work.

Common fears some of my clients have expressed in the past:

 Doesn’t want to have to give up everything she loves to eat- You don’t have to. Sure you may need to make some changes to how you’re currently eating especially if your current diet is cardboard or manufactured in a plant. Moderation is key. And there are always ways to make your favorite foods slightly *better*. Nothing is off limits. No food is bad. 

I am too busy to figure it out– just start. Start where you are, with what you do know. Often times walking is underrated. But it is one of the oldest and most effective ways to move your body. And just about anyone can do it. 

I can’t afford a trainer– you don’t need one. But if you do feel like you’d benefit from having someone to guide you then check into some more affordable options. You can get into a small group training session, hire a coach (often for much less than a trainer’s hourly rate) you pay monthly. 

I’m not even sure what I like doing or that I want to go to the gym. That’s totally ok. Tap into your inner kid and think about things you enjoyed doing as a kid, try a new class, invest in some equipment to have at your house, or try a boutique fitness studio instead of bigger gyms. 

I’ve seen some of my friends get too obsessed with healthy living, weight loss, or fat loss. Me too. In fact, I was that friend at one point. Let go of perfectionism. Let go of someone else’s idea of what ‘healthy’ looks like. Set goals for yourself that aren’t necessarily physique related. 

Equip yourself with knowledge

>> Diets don’t work. Sure they may work temporarily, but diets are not a permanent solution. In fact 95% of diets fail.

>> Despite all of the info that pops up when you Google weight loss, fat loss, or diets–you don’t need  to calorie count, count macros, points, or portions. 

>> You don’t have to work out for hours/ day 6-7 days a week.

>> You don’t have to follow one certain workout program.

You get to decide what goals you have and how you want to reach them. It’s easy when you’re first starting out with healthier lifestyle changes to get sucked into all of the information on the internet. So much of it seems like good advice, “Eat healthier, exercise more, create a caloric deficit”. For most people (about 95% of them) that doesn’t work..at least not long-term. 

These ‘healthier lifestyles’ are just more diets packaged a different way. There are ways to create the change you want in your health or your body without dieting or resigning yourself to exercising in a way you hate.

The best workout program or ‘diet’ is one you can do literally forever. This is why one of the biggest issues I have with mainstream health and fitness is the emphasis on perfection and the unrealistic means to get there. When we are trying to follow rules instead of creating habits, we only set ourselves up to fail. When diet culture does include habits–it’s usually just build a habit of following the rules. 

Keep in mind it’s not about what you’re missing out on or taking away, but what you will be gaining by implementing healthier habits into your day-to-day routine. Since practically nobody likes living in deprivation focus on healthy habits over following rules. Focusing on what you don’t have (link to other blog post about mindset) or what you’re not is unmotivating. Instead focus on what you will be gaining by creating healthy habits = more motivating.

Dream big for yourself

I didn’t realize all the times I kept giving up on myself at the gym I was playing small. Every time I quit, I was feeding the self-limiting beliefs I had about myself. The gym isn’t where everyone will find the courage to be who they were created to be. In fact, it wasn’t until I started running (which I hated for most of my life) that I started to see what was possible for me. Then over time I had the confidence to give the gym another try, which ended up being much more successful.

Ask yourself what you would be able to accomplish by creating healthier habits and ditching some of your less healthy ones. What would you do if you felt more confident, had higher self-esteem? What are some things you have missed out on by NOT being happy in your current body?

NOTE: Weight loss/ fat loss is not a magic pill or bullet. It absolutely WILL not fix your problems, and in some cases might even make things worse. Broaden your focus beyond the numbers and beyond trying to create someone else’s idea of a perfect body. 

 Start implementing healthy habits- movement, nutrition, mindset. 

>> change your environment to mirror the changes you want to make–make movement easier and healthier options more available while decreasing the unhealthier ones.

>> keep it simple to start and practice consistency over perfection and complicated strategies. 

>> focus on eating more veggies and adding in more variety.

>> Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk if you sit all day and aim to go for a walk on your break, grab a co-worker and get outside.

>> Set a reminder or alarm to go off every couple of hours to remind you to get up and move.

>> Sample some classes at local gyms/ facilities to see what you like or sign up for a community class (often cheaper than a gym membership and you might find it less intimidating than walking into a new class or the gym for the first time or in a long time).

>> If you don’t like exercise or have a bad taste when it comes to healthy eating–try thinking about it differently: it’s not a punishment, but rather is something you get to do so that you can do x down the road.

>> Think about your values and your goals, how would taking care of yourself make those things easier?

>> Remember you don’t have to do any specific kind of exercise or follow any one type of diet to create the results you want. You get to choose what works for you and your lifestyle. 

 I’m not a huge advocate for fitting the rest of your life around fitness. Rather making ‘being fit’ fit into what you’re already doing. After seeing so many women try over and over again to follow someone else’s rules, and being one of those women myself; I know it doesn’t work. 

You shouldn’t feel like you’re starting a new job when you embark on the amazing journey of bettering yourself through movement, nutrition, or otherwise. And if it does, that’s probably not the “healthy lifestyle” for you.

Cheers to creating food freedom, finding joy in movement, and loving your body long before you reach your goals!

xo,

Alisha

PS to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot, sign up below to grab your copy of 5 of the sneakiest ways you’re sabotaging yourself.

Why moderation is the best way to create a healthy lifestyle

Why moderation is the best way to create a healthy lifestyle

You’ve been burned a time or two by the fitness industry before and it’s  caused problems by being too obsessed with living that “healthy and fit” lifestyle. It  doesn’t even look possible to be healthy and fit any other way than focusing so much on food–what you’re going to eat, how much you ‘can’ have, and whether or not you were on plan or off plan. If you’re not logging hours at the gym or during your workouts, you can’t possibly get the results you’re after, right?

Wrong.

 The mainstream health and fitness industry aka diet culture wants you to believe healthy looks one way and is achieved through a very narrow pathway–working out like the top instagram fitness influencers and following some cookie cutter meal plan. The issue with this narrow way of thinking is that it limits a majority of women to ever actually be able to achieve a healthy and fit lifestyle. Because for everyone not living inside a bubble the methods used are unrealistic, unhealthy, and keep you stuck in the same diet cycle. 

One of the best kept secrets of the fitness industry is that your weight (to an extent) is predetermined much like your eye color or your height. This doesn’t mean you should resolve to live an unhealthy lifestyle eating whatever you want whenever you want or ditch all forms of movement because you don’t like it. But it does mean you don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of what a healthy and fit body looks like. 

  Find the middle ground: Not without discipline and self-control, but also not about rules and restriction.

You don’t have to workout for hours or be restrictive with your food to be healthy or to reach your fitness goals. In fact, I believe that type of behavior has the opposite impact on your health both long and short-term in that you end up sacrificing other areas of health to attain society’s idea of what a healthy body should look like.

Learning to be more disciplined in the short-term pays off big. It’s all about learning how to manage the tension between instant gratification and holding out for what you want most in your life. Becoming more disciplined and learning how to exercise self-control are two of your most powerful tools when it comes to leaving the diets and the workout programs you hate doing behind. Once you know how to exercise self- control in a way that allows you to *choose* whether you want to give into the instant gratification or you want to hold out for a bigger payoff you become more empowered and more motivated to do what you know is right in your heart.

Create moderation.

I’ve been there..for years I tried to live up to the popular body type, at the time it was being long and lean. The problem? I’m pretty short and have legs like tree trunks. My body puts on muscle fairly easily, and my lower body tends to holds onto fat. Trying all the popular workouts and meal plans I found in magazines and online to create the long and lean body only left me more defeated.  I thought something was wrong with me since I could never attain that specific body shape or size. Talk about motivating. 

Once you see there are MANY ways to be healthy. And that health and fitness can and should look different on every single body, you can find motivation to try again. This time without the fear of failing or having to keep up with what everyone else is doing to be #healthy. 

Define what “healthy and fit” looks like for yourself

Realizing YOU get to decide for yourself what healthy and fit feels like and looks like, empowers you to take action.

Though its taken me some time and lots of trial and error to figure out what works for me personally, you won’t have to navigate it yourself because I’ve compiled the strategies you need in order to begin confidently rewriting your story with fitness, food, and your relationship with your body. 

Aside from certain markers of physical health (like cholesterol, blood pressure, hormone levels, etc) your health is much more than your appearance, how many veggies you eat in a day, and how many hours you log at the gym. 

Your health is made up of your emotional, mental, and spiritual health as well. Though they make appear to be healthy on the surface, a majority of the workout programs, diet + nutrition information, and meal plans are only promoting disordered eating and body image issues. They tend to forget about how damaging it is to our overall health to be obsessed with obtaining a perfect body, and one that isn’t all that realistic for most women at that.

How to create moderation in lifestyle around food and fitness.

The first thing to realize is that in order to achieve moderation you have to start to let go of what you think you already know about getting healthy or what it will take to become fit.

Focus on discipline and self-control,  not  rules and restriction. Unfortunately the health and fitness industry as well as many in the anti-diet culture movement have made these four things seem synonymous, but they aren’t. The biggest difference lies in your motivation and the heart driving your behavior around food, exercise, and any other activities you engage in to create a ‘healthier’ lifestyle. Ditch the rules and the restriction. Keep practicing self- control with a dose of grace and self-compassion.

You can incorporate all kinds of movement and still reach your fitness and health goals. This is especially true once you realize you are the one deciding what your healthy body should look and feel like. Aside from certain health markers (briefly discussed above), you can choose what your healthiest self looks and feels like. Remember physical appearance is NOT an indication of someone’s health.

There is no best diet or no one size fits all nutrition plan. Most nutrition information you find places too much emphasis on weight loss and fat loss and not enough on eating to nourish your body or to simply give it what it needs to feel good. What works for one person, will not necessarily work for you. It’s hard to keep up with all the diet fads and fitness trends out there, so stop.

Instead of looking for another diet to try, focus on building good habits around food and eating (and drinking) in a way that fuels you to live the life you want to be living.

Habits over rules. By now you can see I’m not a fan of food rules or rules around what it takes to fit and healthy. Rules don’t work, and usually create an urge to rebel. Habits on the other hand can be extremely helpful (if they are habits moving you closer to your goals). Essentially you want to start small. Don’t try to change all of your habits at once. Choose one habit you want to create or one you want to change and take one small action. Then repeat that same action over and over until it becomes natural.

Become self- aware and more intentional.  This one goes hand in hand with creating habits. In order for you to change your habits or create more habits, you’ve got to be aware of what needs changing and why. Grab a journal and a pen and give yourself some time and space to think about your current habits; the habits you want to create; and the goals you want to set for yourself. Ask yourself what habits need to go and what ones you need to start. Then start intentionally choosing your actions.

Moderation is not the easiest path to take, but it’s the best one. Once you learn how to live without food rules and with more intention you can truly begin to experience freedom around food. Fitness can become fun again. And you’ll realize just how truly wonderful your body is right now.

Finding a tribe that is on the same mission as you and sharing your goals is one of the best ways to create lasting change. You’ll be more motivated to show up knowing you’re working alongside other ladies on the same mission as you–to live an anti-diet lifestyle full of laughter and joy. 

xo,

Alisha

PS to make sure you never miss a beat, fill out the form below.

Slow and sustainable weight loss |Not sexy, but it works.

2019 is right around the corner and if you haven’t already been bombarded with messages about creating a ‘New You in the New Year’  Or any other promise of quick and easy weight/fat loss strategies—hold on, they’re coming. But before they hit your news feed, I wanted to tell you a little story.

I had these two friends. One, was always working out, ‘eating clean’, and tracked all of the food she put in her mouth.

The other ate when she was hungry, stopped before she was full, and focused on nourishing her body with healthy and whole foods first. She allowed herself to enjoy treats and the occasional happy hour.

My first friend was always starting a new diet or constantly had to start over because she’d usually binge on the weekends and around the holidays.

The second friend never seemed to be stressed around food or exercise. She enjoyed the healthy foods and the treats and her weight didn’t seem to fluxuate all that much. In fact, she seemed to relaxed and chill around food.

Spoiler alert:

The friends in those stories above are both me. One was before-when I was heavily stuck in diet culture. Trapped by diet mindsets. And continually restricting what and how much I ate all in the name of a 6 pack. Which I regret to say I never had anyway.

How many diets or lifestlye changes have you tried?

You don’t have to really answer that. But think about it. Most of the weight loss products/ diets ont he market are designed to get you the quickest, most extreme results possible. The lucky few who actually do get results usually cannot hang on to them for long, and the others? They quit before they even finish. Why?

For most people they aren’t making lifestyle changes they can or even want to  maintain. Who really never wants to eat their favorite food again?!  I can’t even tell you how many times I swore off sugar, carbs, or alcohol. Ok, so I guess those are all essentially the same thing..but you get the idea. Restriction aka dieting doesn’t work long term. And it makes you miserable in the process.

Breaking up with your diet (2)

Girl, what you need is a friend…someone who has been there before

Having people in your corner who have been in your shoes can help you see what you don’t. The right friends and coaches see your blindsides and they are committed to helping you overcome them.
Not to mention when you and your friends go in on a fitness adventure together or you and your besties vow to make some lifestyle changes together you get the effect of positive peer pressure. Sheesh, where were those friends back in high school?
Inviting a few trusted friends on your journey gives you the sense of being known.
Which, let’s face it, being known is a big deal. For most of my teen and young adult life I just wanted to be seen. To be known. To be wanted. I am convinced that is why I spent so much of my time chasing the perfect body, trying to catch the attention of the cute guy I was crushing on, and why I negotiated bits and pieces of who I was.
When you blab to you friends about what you’re doing, it puts you on the hook.
It’s easy to let your goals and the big dreams you have for yourself slink off to die a slow, quiet death when you keep them quiet.
A word to the wise: Be choosy with the friends you invite to join you on your health and fitness journey. Find someone (or a group of women) that are excited for you and not threatened by your desire to change.

 Focus on small changes daily rather than big extreme ones that don’t last

My rule of thumb: the more extreme the measure, the less sustainable the result. If you can’t see yourself living life ( as in a healthy, vibrant, and full life) on salads and shakes then it won’t work. If you can’t see yourself committing to the gym 6 days/ week for 2 hours a day until you die, then that’s not the right answer for you. Pick a few small changes to make and start slow. Practice those changes for a few weeks consistently before adding anything else to your plate.

Can you do whatever it is you’re currently doing to get in shape forever??
Right now ask yourself on a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to stick to your current lifestyle?
Anything less than a 9 means you’re not going to stick with it long enough to see change forever.
I want to let you in on my secret…it should almost feel too easy. Like so easy, you don’t see results in a couple of weeks. The changes will be subtle and that will be frustrating no doubt, because we have been conditioned to demand quick results.
Hold on to hope
If you stay consistent, you WILL get the results you’re after. And you’ll be able to keep them forever. Seriously. But you’ve got to be relentless–kind of like my dog when she gets her sights set on a squirrel.
Fight the good fight. Choose foods that nourish your mind, body + soul. Move your body with indulgent joy. And take a moment to evaluate your current game plan going into 2019. Does it look the same as it did last December? If you were less than thrilled with the results, it might be time to do something a little (or a lot) different.
Did this resonate with you? Share this with one person who needs this message and leave me your thoughts below.
Cheers to women creating food freedom, finding joy in movement, and making peace with their bodies long before they reach their goals!
xo,
Alisha Carlson (8)

Healthy lifestyle or disordered eating? Not as easy to spot as you might think.

I stepped on stage in a teeny weeny bikini, a tan, and 4 inch heels.

I honestly loved it. I loved the rush of showing off all the hard work and discipline the last 12+weeks had produced. I loved the challenge of changing my body– It was just as much of a mental game as it was a physical. There was so much about that sport that I loved.

It wasn’t until I took a step back and saw just what it cost me to get up on that stage and to prep for the next shows.

I was a full time student in 2012 with 2 kids under the age of 5. I was still breast feeding, training 2 hours/ day 6 days week, counting every morsel of food I put in my mouth like it was my job. I was happy. Or at the very least thought I should be. I did have my ‘dream body’ after all.

IMG_6332

What I didn’t realize during competition prep was how much my choices were impacting my kids and my marriage.

During prep, my 3 year old would parade around the house in my heels and a teeny bikini, cute right?! Right up until she started turning down all of her favorite foods so that she could eat steak and rice like mama. That was the last straw.

I felt convicted. I knew that I had let this get out of hand. At the time though, I didn’t see the full effect of what I was doing to my body, my mind, or my family. I thought I was being healthy–

I looked the part, and treated my body like a temple.

But I was emotionally, mentally, and spiritually sick. And I didn’t want to pass that on to Kenadie or KB for that matter.

I didn’t want them growing up thinking there was only ONE right way to have a body. And that anything outside of that was wrong or broken.

I knew I was done with competing. And while it might have felt sad for a moment giving up that thing for myself, I was relieved. –

Is your healthy lifestyle disordered eating in disguise_

Disordered eating comes in many packages, the least of which looks like a healthy lifestyle.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Stepping on stage in a bikini and heels tops the list for me…join the conversation below.

Cheers to all the ladies out there just trying to create food freedom, find joy in movement, and make peace with their bodies long before they reach their goals. I’m here for you!

Xo,

 

Alisha Carlson (8)

Break up with your diet and leave diet culture behind | One of the healthiest choices you can make for yourself

 

Diets.

We’ve all sworn them off. Well, at least we thought we did. I’m stumped though as to why we still have so many women working their butts off and still not living in a body they are totally in love with.

It’s not you, it’s them..

Diets are pretty sneaky. I mean it is literally the only product that continually fails over and over and over, yet we keep coming back for more.
We usually just chalk a diet not working up to us not trying hard enough, not being disciplined enough, not being focused enough, or dare I say not wanting it bad enough.
For some reason this twisted mindset is widely accepted as being the truth. I know I’m not the only one that beat myself up when I couldn’t stick to my 1200 calorie diet of mostly veggies, almost zero carbs, and chicken.
What if it really isn’t you or me, but it’s the methods we are using to try to lose weight that is the real problem.
Breaking up with your diet

Diets set you up to fail by creating standards that aren’t realistic or even all that healthy 

Have you ever googled ‘fit woman’ or ‘healthy woman’? In less than one second you will see over one billion images all portraying a similar ideal of what a healthy woman ought to look like.
They are all roughly the same size, not too muscular and not too thin. Long hair and about the same age range, eating a salad, and of course smiling (so if you have RBF even if you are the poster child for health in every other way, you might be out of luck on this one..)
There isn’t much wiggle room. What happens to all of the women that don’t fit that ideal?  Are you simply out of luck? Will you never be health and fit? No.

Healthy bodies come in all sizes and shapes

You almost never hear of any fitness program promising to get you to your own healthy, natural weight. Or advertising their programs ability to enhance your body’s natural shape or size.
If you’re defeated and discouraged because no matter how hard you work or what you do, you still can’t seem to reach your goal body–it might be because you’re just chasing someone else’s goal body. Not the one you are meant to live in.

Diets were designed to make you feel crappy about yourself

This is a multi billion dollar business that was created to keep you feeling bad about yourself. IF ‘diets’ aka ‘wellness’ aka ‘healthy lifestyles’ actually worked long term, the fitness and wellness industry would be out of business.
There are ways you can go about creating a healthy lifestyle or pursuing wellness that is not entangled in diet culture or diet – y mindsets. You just have to do a little leg work and a whole lot of self exploration to discover your heart and your motives for any of the actions you’re taking.
For all the women out there done with dieting. Done with feeling crappy about themselves. And done sabotaging themselves with sneaky food behaviors–grab your copy of my FREE guide. This guide walks you through 5 of the sneakiest diet-y behaviors and mindsets you might not even know you are still doing PLUS it gives you practical strategies and tips you can start using today.
Here’s to women creating food freedom, finding joy in movement, and making peace with their bodies long before they ever reach their goal body!
xo,
Alisha Carlson (8)