Newsflash: the health changes that turn your life around won't be the latest influencer workout guide or fad diet.
They will be the simple, easy to follow habits that you can practice every day for life.
The below 10 principles, added slowly into your daily life, will have you feeling fitter, healthier and stronger than ever before.
The key is to add each change one at a time, giving it a few days or even a week or so to become a habit, then adding the next. By the end of the year, you'll find yourself living a completely different lifestyle: one where health and fitness happens on autopilot.
#1: Don't be afraid to get down with the weights room!
Girls, lifting weights won't make you look like The Hulk. You need a LOT more testosterone and a very specific form of training with a strength coach to make that happen!
What weights will do, however, is give you so much strength and endurance to get through your day, and create a killer hourglass shape.
It's like I always say: cardio may reduce your size, but your shape is built in the weights room!
#2: Do cardio
Don't shirk cardio to do all resistance training either! Cardio has a LOT of benefits - and not just for fat loss!
Cardio can improve your mood, boost your lung capacity, strengthen your immune system, improve circulation and reduce your risk of heart disease.
In fact, it's recommended that most adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity every week, spread throughout the week (read: at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, most days of the week).
But don't worry - you never have to step foot on a treadmill (unless you want to). You can go for a brisk walk in nature, go throw the footy around the yard with your kids, go on a bike ride, or take up a fun aerobics dance class with your friends.
Aim for moderate intensity - that is, you should be able to talk but unable to sing or shout. That's your aerobic zone - and it's most beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Our bodies need regular moderate intensity cardio most days of the week - especially in this increasingly sedentary world. Find a form that feels fun to you and add it to your day whenever and however you can.
#3: Never miss two in a row
Sometimes we have to miss a workout and sometimes we want to enjoy an indulgent meal. Life happens!
Don't beat yourself up, live on spinach for the next two days, or kill yourself with a double workout to "punish yourself" for a slip up. Just live by the rule "never miss two in a row" - miss a workout today, make tomorrow's workout a must. Eat ice cream on the beach this afternoon, have a nourish bowl for dinner.
#4: Drink plenty of water
How much? Your weight (in kg) x 0.033. For example, at 68 kg, I need to drink about 2.24 L of water a day.
#5: Eat balanced meals
You don't have to go on some crazy fad diet. Aim for balance rather than restriction and follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines as best you can within your budget and lifestyle.
#6: Don't skip meals or restrict calories too heavily
Believe me, I've tried it in the past. All it's ever gotten me is a slow metabolism, a wonky period and a bad relationship with food.
Long term extreme caloric restriction can negatively impact your metabolism and muscle growth - not great for long term results, or your health.
#7: Your scale is a liaaaaaar!
Focus on measurements, progress photos, and the way your favourite jeans fit to help you gauge your progress.
♥ Related Article: Ways to Measure Your Fitness Progress Without the Scale ♥
#8: Get plenty of good quality sleep
Your body's cells repair themselves while you're resting. Plus, you're more likely to make healthy food choices after a good night's sleep.
♥ Related Article: How to Get the Best Night's Sleep Ever ♥
#9: Hang around people with like minded goals
Surround yourself with other people who are striving to reach the same goals as you. It really helps you to stay on track when you're in a group of people cheering one another on and supporting each other.
#10: Don't Give Up
No matter what happens, you've never "blown it" - at every moment you have the power to choose again.
Just move forward and do the next right thing. Keep going, beautiful. You've got this!
One of the biggest secrets to getting fit and healthy for life isn't deprivation, self torture or guilt: it's about building healthy habits that are sustainable long term. By introducing these habits gradually, you'll be setting yourself up for lifelong health and fitness.
Oh, and by the way, if you'd like extra help setting up these habits (as well as some extra tips for creating a healthy lifestyle), I've created something special that will really kickstart your goals.
It's a healthy habits bundle that is completely free for subscribers. All you have to do is click the button below to get started: you'll receive journal prompts, a relaxing .mp3 affirmations audio and a free eBook, as well as more fitness tips from me every single week.
Now, on to the Captain's Log. My regulars will note that I have been a little AWOL for a few days.
Well, yes. I decided, as my own boss, to give myself the weekend off. Am I not a gracious and noble leader?
(I think so.)
Problem is, now I've got a backlog of nutrition and workouts to track. Some have photos, some don't (hey, it was my weekend off) but I ate some pretty amazing things over the weekend which I can't wait to share.
For breakfast this day I woke up just in time for work again (sheesh, this is getting to be a problem) so I had cereal - 1/4 cup of oat flakes and All Bran with one Weet Bix brick and the tiniest bit of honey.
Lunch today was a chicken and salad sandwich with just a tonne of oakleaf lettuce, tomato and cucumber, a smear of hummus and a smear of avocado. So good!
I squeezed in an afternoon workout before gearing up for round two of work, so I quickly made myself a post-workout green smoothie to cure those hunger pangs. (P.S. if you like the look of this bad boy, you can steal the recipe from Day 2.)
I got peckish before dinner, so I made a little mini protein charcuterie board with some hummus, guacamole, rice crackers, Shapes for Greg, vintage cheese and poached chicken breast.
(N.B. - I didn't eat all of this, I shared it with Greg.)
Usually before dinner on Friday night, Greg and I like to have a wine or two - problem is, I get hangry waiting for dinner. In the past, I've been known to inhale a packet of chips, which is fine on occasion, but it was becoming a habit.
A few rice crackers still cure that salty-snack craving for fewer calories, and the protein and healthy fats from the avocado, hummus, cheese and chicken keep me full until dinner time.
OMG we have to talk about the pizza situation.
This week I decided that rather than ordering in pizza, I would make my own healthier version and it turned out amazing.
Now listen, I don't do weird "healthier alternatives" like cauliflower bases - and don't even get me started on rice cake or portobello mushroom base pizzas. They are not the same!
I need real carbs, real toppings, and real cheese!
While grocery shopping last week I grabbed a beautiful big wholemeal pizza base. I spread it with pizza sauce, loaded it with veggies and spinach and topped it with fresh basil and my protein of choice (smoked salmon), before adding 1/2 cup cheese over the whole pizza (about 1/4 cup per serving), as well as a Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese snack tub (about 34 g).
Let me tell you, this baby was absolutely delicious and really hit the craving spot. It didn't feel like I was depriving myself at all, yet it was much more nutritious than its takeaway cousin.
Pro tip: For extra cheesy goodness with minimal calories, give your cooked pizza a sprinkling with a parmesan shaker before serving.
For dessert tonight I had a Paul's Soleil Low Fat Chocolate Mousse - it's less than 75 calories a serve and SO delicious.
Friday's workout was a double whammy. I warmed up my muscles and got my heart rate pumping with this banger from 1988 - a low impact aerobics workout.
First of all, it was not low impact. There was a lot of jumping and jogging, which I do really try and avoid when it's that time of the month because it can make my cramps worse.
I'm proud to say I still did it, and felt good afterwards. However, I don't recommend it if you're recovering from an injury, new to exercise, or need to stick to low impact for any other health reason.
If you find a workout on YouTube, it's always good to give it a quick watch through to see if it's appropriate for your fitness level. But, if you get caught out don't despair - march it out at the pace of the music beat, and pick the moves back up when you can.
When I was done with that, I worked on my strength with an express Body Pump-esque workout. I was able to up my weight on the squat and back track, which I'm so proud of. I can already feel my body growing stronger!
Okay, let me preface this by saying that today's nutrition was all over the show. I made some very valuable distinctions and learned some great lessons which I'll be able to take with me on my journey moving forward.
For breakfast this day I started strong with peanut butter and raspberry oats (grab the recipe here). We were about to head to the beach with my parents, niece and nephew, so I needed something quick, filling and nutritious (tick in every box).
Oh, I also tried something I've been wanting to try for a while: Vietnamese iced coffee. It's basically espresso with a tablespoon of condensed milk poured over ice and I've heard it's delicious.
It was good - though I think I still prefer my black cold brew if I'm going to drink iced coffee.
We enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the Broadwater near Charis Seafood, which is an amazing place to grab seafood on the Gold Coast (albeit a very popular one).
I was still full from breakfast when Dad and Greg went to get lunch, so I simply ordered a piece of grilled barramundi, no crumb or batter, and enjoyed it with a wedge of lemon (and two of Greg's chips).
Sadly, I only remembered to take a photo after the fact but I promise you - it was absolutely delicious. I'm still daydreaming about it, to be honest.
Well, this is where the wheels came clear off the wagon. We went out to celebrate a friend's birthday at The Island Bar at Surfers Paradise (which is an absolutely amazing spot and highly recommended).
I decided that my "treat" would be the cocktails and champagne, rather than the cheese platters that were circulating, and that I'd grab a grilled chicken Subway on the way home.
Except that such a deal never happened, because I got carried away dancing and meeting some wonderful new people, and before I knew it, it was 3 am.
By the time I got home, I only had the energy to shower, brush my teeth, and wash off my makeup (a non-negotiable) before falling fast asleep.
It's not the best course of action but listen, I learned a powerful lesson: make sure you eat before you party.
A protein shake, a grilled chicken sandwich, or even booking an early dinner before the event would have meant I had food in my tummy and didn't feel overly hungry, not to mention it would have slowed down the effects of the alcohol.
See, when you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol moves quickly to the small intestine, where it is absorbed into the body. When you eat before drinking, it slows alcohol's pathway to the blood stream, minimising the effects.
Eating before drinking will also give you an extra boost of vitamins and minerals - which alcohol depletes from your body (hence the hangover the next day).
Since going out seems to be a once in five year event for me, and drinking more than two glasses of wine is rare at best, it's a lesson I needed to be reminded of this night, and one I'll keep in mind next time I'm gearing up for a wonderful, big night with friends.
One thing I am proud of myself for is alternating alcohol with soda water. It gave me a bubbly drink to sip on while dancing and chatting, kept me hydrated, diluted the effects of the alcohol, and gave my body time to metabolise the last drink before I went on to the next.
I also did a great deal of dancing, which helped burn some calories and further delayed the time between each drink (and gave me a good endorphin surge, dancing's great for that).
My workout on Saturday morning was Starting Out by Kathy Smith - much lower impact than yesterday's, but I definitely still got a sweat on and got my heart rate up in 30 short minutes. It's a classic!
I woke up the morning after the night before and recognised something I hadn't experienced in a very long time indeed.
Yup, I was hungover.
I think it was mostly the lack of sleep, but despite keeping up the water the night before, I was definitely feeling that God-awful dry mouth feeling from the alcohol. Gross.
After drinking what must have been a litre of water, Greg and I decided to walk to brunch - and it was great to get out in the sunshine and stretch out my body, which was actually a little sore from all the dancing last night.
It wasn't so great when we got there and they told us the cafe was closed.
We walked home in defeat and through Uber Eats I ordered myself avocado, rocket and poached egg on pumpkin sourdough loaf.
It was as delicious as it looks, and was medicine after the night before:
The salt in the sourdough bread replenished my sodium levels, which can get very depleted after a night of drinking.
The egg provided cysteine, which produces glutathione, an antioxidant that is crucial for breaking down the toxins in alcohol. Alcohol also depletes glutathione, so it's a double whammy of feeling terrible. Eating egg helps to replenish your stores and break down alcohol's toxins.
The avocado provided a tonne of potassium. Your potassium levels get punished after a night of drinking. Low levels of potassium can make you feel weak, tired, and generally unwell. Potassium is a vital nutrient for your body and also serves as an electrolyte, so replenishing your stores goes a long way in making you feel better. Avocados can also help to protect the liver against damage, which can occur with heavy drinking.
I also treated myself to a slice of banana loaf - half was satisfying enough for me though, so I didn't eat all of it.
Oh, and of course - there was definitely coffee involved. Today I drank it black with a teaspoon of sugar.
Throughout the rest of the day I rehydrated my body with water and cold brew herbal tea. I didn't feel much like eating, so I let my delicious, nutritious breakfast do its job, stayed constantly hydrated, and took a day to rest and recover.
For dinner tonight I had leftover pizza from Friday night with a cold brew tea on the side. It actually tasted even better - the flavours had time to marry.
Dessert was also similar to Friday's - we had another little tub of low fat chocolate mousse before climbing into bed for a very much needed early night.
Well, that wraps up the log from my amazing weekend. I hope you enjoyed it - and I'd love to hear from you about how your fitness journey is going.
What amazing lessons have you learned so far? Share them with me in the comments below - it's so wonderful to learn from one another and grow together!
Now let's huddle in for a little mini motivation message.
Your mistakes are your biggest teachers.
Don't take them as a sign of defeat: but as lessons.
As feedback from life to teach you what works and what doesn't.
As roadmaps, marking out the course for your future.
If you do something that's not in line with your goals, ask yourself: What can I learn from this? How can I use this to make a different choice next time?
Welcome your setbacks. Welcome your obstacles. Welcome your patterns.
Each one is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and finally break free of the chains that hold you back.
Keep going. You've got this!
Until tomorrow, keep shining bright.
- xo, Rhi