Today I have a really cool guest post from a reader. Michelle has a passion for health and wellness, and she has written a piece that will hopefully help you find what inspires you to live better as well. Although I’ve never created my own inspiration board, I tend to use fitspiration posts and Pinterest to do the same type of thing, so Michelle’s words really resonate with me. I hope they will for you, too! ____________________________________________________________________________________
It takes trials and errors to find a healthy balance in life’s various facets. This holds especially true when searching for a healthy balance in achieving and maintaining our fitness goals. However, you can create an inspiration board to detail and strategize your health and fitness goals. Envision the healthy balance required to meet your goal, and place pictures representing proportioned balance on your board. If you strategize your goal this way, organization and motivation unite to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and losing sight of balance.
How do you strategize and organize a healthy balance? Begin by scouring resources for images that represent your goal and all that you need to achieve that goal. Include pictures that symbolize inspiration and motivation. Pictures of healthy foods, action shots of an inspirational person, and a list of daily exercises work well on healthy, balanced inspiration boards.
After you collect the pieces of your collage, choose one image that best signifies your goal and place it as the focal point of your inspiration board. It does not matter if you have a short-term goal, such as dropping one dress size, or a long-term goal, such as an overall healthier lifestyle to live longer; the central image signifies your goal and visualizing it on a daily basis reminds you of your purpose when the daily steps to achieve the result overwhelm you.
It is now time to surround your focal point with the other pictures that inspire you to meet your goal. Health and fitness goals require an equal balance of diet, exercise, motivation and emotional health. Organize the pictures in a manner that makes sense to you: four quadrants, a tier system, a Venn diagram or broken into daily or weekly achievements.
The foods you eat comprise one-fourth of a healthy balance, so create a collage of healthy foods you enjoy, foods that you want to try, and healthy, tempting recipes. If it inspires you, include methods of disguising food you should eat but dislike. You can find inspiration by discovering what makes food fun and what dietary changes you can sustain for an extended time.
What images motivate you to exercise? Pictures of exercise equipment, a painting of a path for jogging in a field of flowers, or images of a crowded gym work for some people. Write a list of exercises you want to perform on a daily basis. Depending on what gets you up and moving, you might want to include a playlist of upbeat music. This is your inspiration board: What works for you?
Why should you include a motivation section on an inspiration board? Despite apparent redundancy, personalizing and visualizing your motivation keeps you on a balanced track. Use this section for pictures personifying the reasons behind your goal. A person crossing a finish line, a special outfit for a special day, or a grandparent surrounded by children might remind you why you have a goal, or perhaps you have other reasons. Search for images of a special person or event that inspires you, and place the picture on your inspiration board.
Emotional health is vital for a healthy balance but is often neglected. If you include pictures of relaxing activities, such as a bubble bath, a garden or favorite books, you have a visual reminder of the importance of emotional rest and relaxation. Placing prompts for leisure gives you a respite from focusing all your attention on diet and exercise and rejuvenates your spirit so you can carry on.
Get as specific and detailed as you must: This is your board to seek daily inspiration, so you want images that light a fire within you and not someone else. Use pictures that enable you to visualize your goal and see the healthy balance required for success in reaching for your particular stars.
Check out this example fitspirational board:
I’m really inspired by yoga for a number of reasons and it is the focus of my inspiration board. Yoga focuses the mind and body, teaching ourselves to find a spiritual balance. I also love that yoga can be done anywhere, even the beach! Simple yoga poses are simple stretches that can be done in the comfort of your own home or when traveling. Yoga is great for beginners and the more advanced athlete.
I’m new to golf, but I find it very relaxing. I’ve been learning at Kaluhyat, which is a New York golf resort. They’ve got great instructors, and several courses to practice on.
As part of my personal mission to live a healthier balanced life, I need to get better at taking care of my body. I’m taking more precaution to protect myself from harmful UV rays. Problem is, I love the sun; to compromise, I bought a floppy beach hat (similar to the one pictured from Wet Seal) to help shield my face and eyes. Wearing sunglasses can help prevent sun damage to your eyes that could cause cataracts.
Improvement in your daily diet is where you notice the most change. The best way to start is by adding more fruits and veggies to your regular routine. Try a tasty green smoothie as your mid-morning snack. They may look funky, but they taste great and can be adjusted to your liking!
What inspires you?
Have you ever made any type of inspiration board?
What are some tips you’d give to others on finding their inspiration?
Last night, I was browsing through a few blogs on my favorites bar, and I came across a post called What Keeps You Paleo Motivated? that really struck a chord with me.
Whenever you decide to make a change in your lifestyle – whether it be to eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, get more sleep, or whatever else – it takes some serious motivation. The post above talks about a few peoples’ individual motivations for choosing to eat paleo: they want to lose weight, fit into their jeans, succeed at living healthier, stop farting at work (seriously), ease their stomach pains…
Clearly, it’s different for everyone (be thankful you’re not the guy who wants to stop farting audibly in front of his coworkers), and this motivation certainly changes over time. At first, you may decide to eat better because you want to lose weight, but once it’s off, you may also realize that you’d felt crappy for a long time and now see that you never want to go back there.
The piece of the article that really resonated with me though was this:
For me, the answer to the question about what motivates me is feeling good. When I eat better, drink water, and work out regularly, I feel better. If I want to eat a bagel or an ice cream cone, I can… but I know what the consequences will be. And when I don’t eat those things, it’s not because I can’t because I’m on some diet, or because someone told me I couldn’t… it’s because I choose not to.
Of course, this mainly applies to eating for me, but it could apply to anything that you’re needing motivation for in your life. Do you want to lose weight? Then make the choice to eat healthier and do it. Do you want to have more energy, stop bone loss, and get stronger? Then make the choice to exercise at least a little bit every single day and do it. Do you want to live longer? Then make the choice to quit smoking/limit drinking/stop tanning/etc. and follow through. Do you want to be happier? Then get out of that bad relationship, quit that dead-end job, or move to an apartment on the beach and get happy.
Framing things out in this way really does help me feel less like a victim and more like a success story. I don’t want to have stomach aches, so I choose to eat well as often as I possibly can. I want to be fit and healthy, so I choose to get up early and workout. I want to live a long life, so I choose to forego tanning, drink a lot of water, and learn about things that are good for me.
Sometimes, it’s not easy. Sometimes I say to myself ‘why are you bothering with all of this?’ Most people don’t spend half their Sundays cooking food for the week. Most people don’t research restaurants before they go to make sure they can find something on the menu that won’t upset their stomach. Most people don’t skip the bun on a burger. Most people don’t get up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym and run around like a maniac. So why should I make my life so much harder to do all of these things when I don’t have to?
The answer is: because I choose to!
So, friends, what motivates you? You may not eat paleo, but there has got to be something that you choose to go out of your way to do because you know it’s worth it.
So… why do you do it?
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been feeling a little blah – really tired, and not motivated to workout at all. I think it’s just because I’ve been go-go-going all the time for the past couple of months, and I need a break, but it still sort of gives you an uneasy feeling when you’re not yourself.
Then, the other night, I came across this picture on Instagram:
I don’t remember this quote from the movie, so I could be taking it totally out of context, but still, I believe it. When you’re faced with something, you can either dwell on it, worry about it, and stress over it (like I usually do), or you can choose to look at it from a positive perspective, tackle it head on, and overcome it.
Sure, me feeling a little less-than-energized certainly isn’t the biggest problem going on in the world right now, but it’s still applicable. I could lay in my bed and cry about how lazy I feel, or I can just embrace it, take some time off, rest, relax, and recover. And that’s what I’m going to do!
Attitude change #1: I did make it to the gym yesterday morning, but my neck was killing me, and I really just wasn’t feeling it (again), so I did some heavy 5×5 shoulder presses and a WOD with 5 rounds of 9 cleans, 6 push presses, and 3 overhead squats at 55lbs and called it a day. Normally, I would’ve beat myself up over the fact that it wasn’t as “intense’” as I would’ve liked, but instead, I gave myself a lot of credit for just getting out of bed and moving around a bit.
Attitude change #2: For breakfast, (after going back and forth with the whole should I?/shouldn’t I? debate a million times) I decided to stop at Dunkin Donuts and get a chocolate chip bagel. Normally, I would abstain because of the inevitable stomach ache, and then the whole feeling-bad-because-I-knew-that-would-happen thing… But you know what? I wanted a bagel. So I got a bagel. And I enjoyed every bite of it.
Attitude change #3: Instead of sitting at my desk during lunch, wishing I was at home/in bed/at the beach/anywhere-but-here, I took my food and my book outside to the picnic table. I brought chicken (with crushed red pepper), and brussels sprouts and broccoli (with sundried-tomato and basil spices and olive oil) that I roasted in the oven, plus carrots, figs, and a dark chocolate square, and it was delicious.
I read a bit, and then my friend joined me while we ate – and it’s seriously amazing what a few minutes to yourself, some delicious, nutritious food, a little bit of sunshine, and good company can do for you!
My afternoon snack was a sliced Fuji apple with a handful of fruit and nut candy crunchies… delicious.
Attitude change #4: I had plans to workout with my friend after work, but when the day ended, all I wanted to do was go home and veg. That initially made me feel like a huge slacker, but instead of feeling bad about it, I decided to enjoy it. Free time doesn’t always come about that easily, so why not take advantage of an evening with nothing to do and just… do nothing?
For dinner, I heated up another serving of meatloaf + mashed cauliflower, this time adding green beans to the mix. To cook them, all I did was put them in a bowl with a little water and microwave them for a few minutes… easy peasy!
The rest of the night was spent on the couch… thoroughly relaxing. I caught up on a couple TV shows, read a little of my book, and got to bed early.
This morning, my alarm went off at the usual time… and I promptly turned it off and went back to bed for two more hours. I woke up the second time feeling like a million bucks – and not guilty at all.
There’s almost nothing you can’t overcome with the right outlook, so if you’re facing challenges right now – whether they’re big or small – I’d encourage you to change your attitude about it too. You will be surprised what just a small shift in perspective can do for you!
Have a great day!
Lately I’ve found myself doing a lot of reflecting. I’m not really sure why, since this week has pretty much been just a week like any other week, but I’ve found myself spending a lot of time thinking about my life as it currently is, where I’ve come from, and where I want to go. In a short time, I feel like I’ve come a long way in discovering who I really am, what my passions, interests, and outlooks are, and what I really want out of life. I’ve been trying to break bad habits, facilitate good ones, and adjust my views on life and love, and I feel like I’ve been succeeding.
I was looking through my Facebook page the other day at all the old pictures from college and high school, and I sort of had some mixed reactions. I feel so detached from the person I was just six months or a year ago, and in a way it makes me sad, but in another way, it makes me feel so happy and proud. I’ve learned a lot about relationships, health, and career pursuits over the past few months – and I’ve started to realize what I want from all of those things. I feel like I’ve turned a corner in that I’ve started to figure out that you need to let your life be guided by you, and nothing else, and that’s a great feeling.
I still have a long way to go to achieve all that I want out of life, but I feel like everyday I am better equipped to handle it. I’m learning what to look for, what’s really important, and the best ways to pursue things, and I feel really good about that. Every day I get up and try to do the things I love, worrying less and less about what other people think and more about what is truly important to me, and I feel like it’s making me a better, happier person as a result.
One of the things seriously making me happy lately are my morning workouts. I look forward to them every day, and sometimes I find myself so excited before bed that I can’t even sleep just thinking about it. I know what you’re thinking: what is wrong with this crazy girl?! But seriously, the way I feel after a good workout always leaves me longing for the next one. I feel happy, at peace, and have my clearest head when I’m being active, and it really is just a source of joy for me.
Yesterday morning, I started with 10 minutes on the treadmill to warm up, and then did this shoulder + triceps workout plus a little bit of core work. My routine is actually starting to get a little stale this week, but I’m hoping to keep it fresh by doing some outdoor running, skiing, and/or maybe even a little bit of gymnastics this weekend. I’m also really looking forward to doing my CrossFit-inspired workout again on Friday. Sounds like fun, no?!
For breakfast yesterday, I decided to switch things up a bit and go with regular eggs and bacon. I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach, because I didn’t end up finishing the whole plate, but it was still tasty. The only downside was that my clothes smelled like bacon all day long – gross.
For lunch yesterday, I had another helping of chicken with zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes.
Plus a big, delicious Fuji apple!
For dinner, I went with good old steak (cooked under the broiler and sprinkled with a little Montreal steak seasoning) with oven roasted asparagus and green beans in olive oil and black pepper.
I can’t even believe I’m going to say this, but if there’s anything that might have the chance to compete with green beans for my undivided love and attention, it could potentially be asparagus. That stuff is just so good.
A couple hours later, I had another helping of my chocolate avocado mousse with strawberries, pineapple, and a medjool date. Fresh, sweet, chocolatey, and delicious!
What have you been learning about yourself lately?
What makes you happiest in life?
What are your favorite foods right now?
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how fortunate I am to have so much to be thankful for. My life has taken some pretty big turns over the past six months or so (graduating college, starting a new job, moving to a new town, starting over as a single girl, making new friends, pursuing my passion for health + exercise by studying to become a personal trainer…) but I think I’ve come out of it all a stronger and better person.
I’m so lucky to have great friends, a wonderful family, and dedicated blog readers as my support system, and I’m thankful that I have a paying job, a comfortable and safe place to live, and things in my life that I am truly passionate about. Of course, we should be grateful for all that we have all year round, as many people are not nearly as lucky, but during the holidays, these things are often highlighted.
So besides all those major things, on this Friday before Christmas, I decided to share some of the little, more seemingly insignificant things making me smile lately, because, hey, the little things in life matter too!
Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, I hope you are finding reasons to smile today also!
Finding new music that I absolutely love (largely centered around this guy lately):
Gaining renewed confidence in myself (mostly via my newfound love of Instagram):
Making new friends and getting to know my coworkers better:
Learning more about my job and starting to see successes:
(Employee of the month is actually just a random drawing for a parking spot, but hey, it counts. )
Getting back on the healthy eating track:
Pinterest inspiration in the form of truly relatable quotes:
What is making you smile lately?