Is Instagram Toxic? Or Not Being Used Effectively?

Since joining the fitness and health community on Instagram, I have seen both the positive and negative effects that social media has on an individual. While this community can be such a great outlet to share your journey and be supported by your followers, it can also be detrimental to your mental health. 

I first created my account to keep myself accountable and to find different workouts or healthy recipe ideas to help me start my journey. I started connecting with others on their own journey’s and I started following people who inspired me, but I also started following people because I wanted my body to look like theirs. 

While it’s okay to follow fitness influencers and admire them, it is not okay to constantly compare yourself to them. I started to obsess over having a body and life just like theirs. I wanted to live an influencer’s life, I wanted to have a tiny waist and a big butt and I wanted to create content just like theirs. In the end, I was creating content that wasn’t authentic. I was upset about how my body looked and was setting very unrealistic goals for myself.

Instagram became a place where I scrolled mindlessly through pictures of really fit girls who did not look like me in the slightest. I questioned if I was even doing anything right with this whole health and fitness thing. Why didn’t I look like these girls?

I was looking for happiness in all the wrong places. I shouldn’t have been looking for validation or self-love on Instagram. I shouldn’t have been seeking attention with inauthentic content. When I started my fitness journey, I was sad, had low energy and had little to no self-confidence. I hated the way my body looked. 

I needed to realize that Instagram is a highlight reel. People post what they want you to see with highly edited photos and not the shitty things that are happening in their lives. After the screen time weekly report came out, I was shocked at how much time I spent on app. Was it really THAT important? No. I vowed to limit my time spent on Instagram. No more mindless scrolling. No more spending time on the explore page and more time spent posting real and raw content. I started setting realistic goals. I want to be honest with my followers because my fitness journey and adapting to a healthy lifestyle is hard! You need support and consistency and SELF-LOVE. It all starts with the love that you have for yourself. If I didn’t have self-love, I would not be where I am today physically, mentally or spiritually.

If you find yourself becoming sad/upset/frustrated while on Instagram or any other social media platform, take a break! Get off your phone and do something that’ll make you feel at peace again. Lean on your offline connections (your loved ones) and the most important connections, in my opinion. They’ll definitely bring you back to reality and remind you that you’re more than just a picture on Instagram. I know mine do. 

P.S. Shout to all of you posting REAL and honest content. Keep hustling!

Bliss & blessings, 

S

How to Create a More Balanced Lifestyle

Was anyone feeling like they didn’t want 2018 to end? I had so many good things happen to me last year, and the highs definitely exceeded the low’s. But a new year means many more opportunities and experiences! My overall goal for the year of 2019 is to live a more balanced lifestyle. 

I feel grounded when I feel balanced. Balance means being able to handle many different aspects of your life without feeling overwhelmed. The main categories that most individuals are currently balancing are physical health, mental health, relationships, environment, work life and material wealth. When a person does not feel balanced, they feel as if their heart or mind is being pulled in many different directions all at the same time. When problems arise in our lives, it is clear that an imbalance is happening. Whether we’re exercising too much or not exercising enough. If we’re spending too much time on our own and not making time for our loved ones. 

Now let’s bring it back to the categories that make up a balanced lifestyle. The first category is our PHYSICAL HEALTH. Think body and nutrition. Things that fall within the category of our physical health are: eating intuitively, drinking water, exercising, resting our bodies and treating ourselves to delicious foods. The second category is our MENTAL HEALTH. This is all about our mindset. How we view ourselves and the world around us. It’s the way we challenge ourselves intellectually and make time for our minds to rest. The third category is RELATIONSHIPS. These relationships include romantic, familial, friendships and the relationship you have with yourself. It’s the balance between giving love and receiving love. It’s about creating boundaries and taking time for yourself, but at the same time making time for socialization.

The fourth category is ENVIRONMENT. This includes our home, our support network, the media, and world issues. The fifth category is WORK LIFE. Depending on where you are in your journey and what type of journey you are on, this could mean career, education and/or business. In our work lives, we should push ourselves to achieve our goals, but we should also see the bigger picture and enjoy this ride we call our lives. 

The sixth and final category is MATERIAL WEALTH. This category is all about money and material things we have in our lives. We must allocate money for things we need and not just want. We must think about the future and not spend money when we don’t necessarily need to, but we must know the balance of indulging in something nice for ourselves or our loved ones.

So, how do we achieve this balance?

1. Whether it’s your phone or a day planner, decide on a consistent planning system that you use to record your appointments, lunch dates, due dates, and to-do’s. For me, a day planner is like a map of everything I have on my plate for the day, week, or month. It allows me to prioritize the different things I need to and when I need to do them. I even plan out what days I’m going to the gym and what I’m working on. I try not to allow one area of my life to take over my time at the expense of other areas of my life. 

2. A simple task for balancing is knowing what your priorities are and setting them straight. Examine your values and decide what’s important to you and what you can take off your plate. This is a crucial step to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Remember to say no to everything that is either not essential or does not add something valuable to your life.

3. Make time for yourself. Give yourself time and space to meditate, journal, or even to do something simple like grocery shop on your own. I love being busy and socializing given that I am a very outgoing person, but I also love my alone time. Being around people 24/7 is exhausting and sometimes you just need some down time to be still. It’s a great idea to set aside some time each day for an activity that you enjoy whether that be catching up on your favourite TV show or reading a new book, turn off the world and disconnect for a bit. 

4. Cultivate an efficient growth mindset. This means that you think of success and failure as a package deal. You don’t think of mistakes as absolute failures, you think of them as lessons from which to learn. You must learn to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches when something happens that you have no control over. You need to be able to adjust your game plan and not freak out when something unplanned happens. This is a HUGE one for me this year and something I really plan on working on this year. 

5. Last not but least and probably the most important is to avoid negativity. You need a positive attitude and you need to stay away from negative influences. This is necessary for inner peace and happiness. Practice gratitude, avoid self-criticism and do one thing everyday that makes you happy.

Bliss & blessings, 

S

How to Bounce Back and Thrive

A recent life event has inspired me to write. An experience filled with disappointments, negative energy and bad decisions. At the time, I would have never thought to write about it because of how awful it made me feel, but as I sit here and reflect, I realize that my words may be able to help others through a difficult time. 

As I stepped back into reality, I was upset, angry, confused and genuinely embarrassed. I was in a rut – but not for long. Resilience is how well a person can adapt to the events in their lives. Over the years, I have actively practiced how to have good resilience which essentially is the ability to bounce back more quickly and with less stress. So here’s how I bounce back and thrive:

Lean on your loved ones. Find comfort in the ones who love you and cherish your relationship. Focus on people who care about you and your well-being and who support you. Value whoever values you. Spend time with them, talk to them about how you’re feeling, and let them listen. They are your support system.

Do something to break the pattern of nasty self-talk and ruminating. After an unpleasant event, we tend to put the blame on ourselves. We think negatively about ourselves and consistently think about what we could have done differently (well I mean, I do). Keep yourself busy. Watch a movie, laugh, call a friend or go to the gym. It’s hard to steer clear of negative thoughts, but give yourself credit for that hour or two that you were able to not think about that shitty thing that happened to you. 

Practice mindfulness daily. Journal or meditate. Focus on the present moment, where you are right now – allow yourself to feel – release those negative emotions, but always remember and be grateful for the beautiful life God has given you. 

Forgive yourself and forgive other people. Even when you didn’t get the closure you needed or an apology, forgive. This may seem silly to other people because everyone deals with things differently, but the act of forgiveness has changed the way I look at shitty things that have happened to me. Forgiveness helps me move on with my life. 

You choose how to react to what has happened. React positively. Choose kindness, choose love, choose happiness. Don’t sit around and sulk. Get back into a routine that makes you feel alive and energized. For me, it was getting a good night’s sleep, heading to the gym, eating healthy meals and making time for self-care.

Accept, learn and MOVE ON from it. Remove yourself from the situation – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Just disconnect from it. Don’t try to control what is out of your control. Being angry, sad, or worrying won’t change the situation. Shitty things happen to good people all the time. Don’t let it be a big deal. Better things are coming for you. Things work themselves out and everything happens for a reason. In a year or so, I’ll probably still think negatively about the situation (hahahaha), but I’ll most likely be able to laugh about it because I’m human and I make mistakes – even really big ones. 

Help someone else in need. Be the best you can be in your professional life. This is huge for me. I’m in a field of work that relies heavily on helping others so I pour my energy into my meaningful career.

Read and listen to motivational, inspirational and encouraging words. I’ve always been a huge fan of reading, but for those who aren’t, there are podcasts and ebooks available everywhere. Reading and listening to another person’s words can be a form of healing for some. Hearing about someone who has been through a difficult time and has dealt with it is reassuring to me that I’ll get through it too. 

Some of my favourite podcast channels:

  • The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast
  • The Health Code
  • Wellness Force Radio

Some of my favourite books: 

  • A Tribe Called Bliss by Lori Harder
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • The Ripple Effect by Greg Wells
  • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

Take each bad experience as a lesson learned. Take it as the universe telling you that it wasn’t for you. It wasn’t meant for you and you probably dodged a bullet. A job opportunity lost, a relationship ending, failure, rejection – take it and use it to better yourself. Bounce back fast and make others wonder how the heck you did it. Take your L and make BIG moves.

Bliss & blessings,

S

How to Get Back on Track with Your Fitness and Health Routine

It’s so easy to fall off the wellness train once life starts to get in the way. We start making excuses about having no time or just being so tired. We simply put our health on the back burner. You vow to eat healthier and never skip the gym and the moment you fail, you give up. I’ve heard everything in the book:

“Well I’ve already ate like crap, so I’ll just start fresh tomorrow.”

“I’m so busy. Maybe I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.”

“I can’t believe I ate that slice of pizza! I feel so awful. I ruined everything. I give up!!!”

“Ugh. I didn’t workout today. It’s okay, I’ll start again next week.”

Next week turns into next month turns into next year and you’re right back where you started – upset and unimpressed with yourself. We need to remember that this is a journey that we’re on, with no specific end point and there are many bumps in this long road of working on our health and fitness.

6 Simple Ways to Get Back on Track: 

REALIZING YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN.
Accept that you are a human being who makes mistakes and can’t always be 100% all the time. Even the most successful people slip up, but they always have the willpower and motivation to jump back up and get back on track quickly. Change your mindset from “maybe later” to “right now” because starting again may be difficult but it’s better to just get back on with it then keep making excuses. It’s completely normal to fall off the wagon, but don’t dwell and feel bad about it. Be active and create change in your life! So what you ate a slice of pizza? So what you skipped three gym days? Be better tomorrow. Set goals and start small. Make sure they’re realistic.

CARRYING A WATER BOTTLE WITH YOU.
People often underestimate the importance of water consumption. It helps with dehydration (during workouts), elimination (flushes out toxins) and digestion (of your food). Your brain is made up of mostly water so drinking water helps you focus and concentrate better! It increases energy and relieves fatigue. Carrying a water bottle with you will remind you to keep drinking and motivate you to keep filling it up. I drink about 2-3 L a day!

CREATING A SCHEDULE.
Make time for your workout. Put it in your calendar on your phone, make a reminder and make it a habit! It’s all about being motivated and willing to go now that you’ve created some time. The next step is to schedule out each day and what you’ll be doing at the gym. For example, on Monday, I focus on my legs and incorporate some LISS (Low-Intensity-Steady-State) cardio. I also have each leg-focused exercise written down on my phone so I can refer to it. It’s so much easier to go to the gym when you’re prepared – it’s less intimidating.

JUST KEEP MOVING!
Sometimes we don’t have time for a full workout or to even get to the gym. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Do some squats and lunges, go for a walk, stretch or even do a HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval-Training) workout at home! The point is to get your heart rate up and move around for a bit. Trust me, your body will thank you.

CREATING A HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD.
If you’re constantly feeling like you need to “cheat” on your relationship with food, then you need a new relationship. Eating healthy sometimes holds a negative connotation. It’s so hard for some people to understand that eating healthy is not eating kale, boiled eggs, and drinking lemon cayenne water everyday and restricting yourself from your favourite foods. We’ve got to get out of that mindset! That, in itself, is unhealthy. Here’s how I created a healthier relationship with food:

  1. Start eating mindfully – listen to your built-in cues – when you’re hungry and when to stop eating.
  2. No foods are off the table – I don’t restrict myself, I just understand what foods are treats and I create alternatives to the foods I love but not are so great for my body.
  3. I always eat breakfast – no matter how early or late my body is telling me to eat.
  4. I don’t keep problematic foods in my house.

REMAINING POSITIVE.
Progress doesn’t happen overnight. I’m not expecting you to magically lose 10 lbs in a week (because that’s not healthy) or just stop eating chocolate for the rest of your life (because that’s just whack). Remember why you started this journey. Take photos so you can track your progress. Keep a positive mindset – no negative self-talk. Learn to love how your body transforms and changes. Appreciate that you are making the effort! This journey isn’t just to transform your body, but your mind and soul too. Be proud of how far you’ve come – a day, a week, a month, a year. Celebrate the small victories!

Wishing you luck on your journey, 

S