This year, I resolved to get myself in shape... thanks to finals, I spent most of my first term back at University being horrible sedentary, and once my exams were done I felt absolutely rotten in myself - I looked gaunt and scrawny, with dull skin, terrible eyebags and absolutely no energy. It's now the end of January, and I'm quite literally a new woman - gone are the days when walking to the cornershop to buy a pack of cookies counted as exercise, and long gone are the days when a huge chocolate binge at 5PM meant I felt too sickly to bother with dinner... nope, it's all about healthy food and fitness.
I've discovered a few things since starting out on my journey, so I've put together what I consider to be the 5 biggest myths surrounding healthy-living in a bid to inspire you all to get on the food and fitness bandwagon (or get you back on it if you've waived since January 1st).
1. You have to join a gym.
When it comes to money-making, gyms pretty much rely on the fact that people will eventually stop going, yet continue to fork out their monthly membership fee. If you're a gym-lover, and will be sure to make full use of that membership then by all means continue. I know for a fact I am not a 'gym person' - I get bored of mindlessly exercising on a treadmill/cross-trainer/bike, I'm far too chicken to go to the weights section and lift whilst stood next to Mr Muscle, and I know I will make any excuse not to venture out into the cold and go to the gym... even if it's on my road. Rather than fork out that extortionate monthly costs of a membership, I took matters into my own hands and searched good ol' YouTube for fitness inspiration, where I found everything, from ballet-barre to boxercise.. and I'm just scratching the surface here. My favourite channels are Fitness Blender, Yoga with Adriene and Blogilates to name but a few- there is so much variety, I can quite literally never get bored. Another plus is that I don't have to travel anywhere to get my dose of fitness - therefore no excuses.
2. Healthy food is super boring and super expensive.
Trust me when I tell you, I'm not eating boiled cabbage everyday - if anything, my meals have become a lot more exciting since I've made this change... I'm enjoying my food so much more now it's all made with completely clean, fresh produce. My favourite foodie site has quickly become Deliciously Ella, whose sugar, gluten and dairy free recipes are anything but boring... and yes, there are even healthy desserts on there. I'm itching to add her recipe book to my collection - I'm so excited that it's out later this week! I'm also loving the Honestly Healthy book, and I've made lots of the recipes with huge success. RE: being expensive... this is sort of a half-myth. Prior to my resolution, I bought a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables in my weekly food shop... although cancelled the goodness out with a bevvy of naughty things on the side. An average shop used to come to about £30 (about $45) per week. Since the beginning of this month, I've been spending more than that - so now, I'm forking out about £40 a week on my weekly food shop- I'm not going to lie, incorporating non-refined sugars (like agave nectar and pure maple syrup), even more fresh produce and an increased number of dairy-free alternatives does cost more, but at an extra £10 a week, it's hardly extortionate - alcohol along with multiple weekly trips to the cornershop for Tangfastics and Rolos would probably equate to £10 a week (if not more), so I really don't mind spending just a little more, and feeling all the better for doing it.
3. Your skin will become terrible if you start working out regularly.
This is a complete myth - I've found my skin has actually become better as a result of regular workouts, although this is dependent on a couple of things. First, and most important, is to always work out with clean, bare skin... that means absolutely no makeup. Getting a sweat on with a full face of slap is one of the worst things you can do for your complexion, and unless you're very lucky, will definitely cause you to breakout. Secondly, I always make sure to cleanse with a gentle face wash just before and just after working out - I'm currently using the Sk:n Vitamin Rich Cleanser for Oily Skin*, which is formulated with Glycolic Acid, Evening Primrose Oil and jam-packed with skin-loving vitamins. It effectively removes all the sweat and gunk from the skin's surface without being stripping of moisture, and keeps my skin looking and feeling clean and soft.
4. You will get bulky if you lift weights.
I'm not all too sure where this misconception has come from... I've always lifted small weights, even when I couldn't be bothered to do any cardio-type exercise. Now, you've seen photos of me on my blog and Instagram... do I look like a bodybuilder? I can't tell you the number of times friends have spotted the dumbbells in my bedroom and made a comment along the lines of "I'd never lift those, my arms/legs are already really big." Weights do not make you bulky - quite the contrary actually... lifting them a few times a week will strip fat from your limbs, giving you that lovely long and lean look. Strength and resistance training actually burns calories for much longer than your average cardio workout, so you're getting all the benefits long after you've put down those dumbells, and I've found lifting weights produces the quickest results in terms of changes to the body. Sure, if you lift hundreds of kilos and it's all you ever do, you might start to resemble Action Man... but if you keep your weights relatively light (I use these ones), and do a high number of reps, you'll begin to see the benefits quickly.
5. You will inevitably give up.
Every year, I make the resolution to get fit and healthy, and I usually give up within a week. Something was different about it this year, though, as I was (and still am) so determined to stick to it. I've gone weeks without even a mere nibble of a chocolate bar, and at a minimum I've worked out 4 times a week since the new year. If you're beginning to feel the itch to ditch your health and fitness regime... don't! Social media is great for inspiration, and I've discovered lots of healthy living motivation on Instagram - my top picks are Results With Lucy, Deliciously Ella, Healthy Not Skinny, Honestly Healthy, Millie Mackintosh and Rosie Huntington Whitley... the latter being my fit-spiration. A little scroll through these accounts and I'm all the more motivated to get my trainers (and my sweat) on.
I have to be honest though, these last few weeks I've actually looked forward to cooking my healthy meals from scratch along with regularly exercising - I get an itch if I leave more than a day between a workout, and I can even walk through the chocolate aisle of a supermarket without so much as stopping to browse at the Mini Eggs... who even am I?