My fitness is very important to me, not only for my physical health but also for staying mentally healthy. My physical activity level and what I eat can have a huge influence on my mood and my ability to stay focused and driven in my career. (You can read more about the benefits of exercise on my mental well being here.) Staying fit isn’t always the easiest, particularly if you’re like me and spend large chunks of your day sitting in an office, travel a lot, and don’t want to spend a small fortune on expensive gym memberships. Being January and kicking off my own new fitness schedule (I happen to be marathon training), I thought I’d share some of the tips and resources I like to use to stay fit:
For me, the best sport to help clear my head and keep me fit is running. I love it. I like racing, group running, solo running, and running while I travel. My favorite part about running? I can do it anywhere, I don’t need an expensive gym or special club membership, and running gear is super easy to pack with you while traveling. In fact, running is one of my favorite ways to explore a city while on vacation (I have some pretty fun running routes I developed while traveling in New Orleans that takes me on a mini-tour through famous cemeteries and the city’s street art). While I know some people benefit from classes and are motivated by the financial commitment of a gym, I personally hate having to pay to exercise. It’s my philosophy that staying fit is something I should be able to seamlessly fit around my schedule without a large monetary investment (that being said, I do spend a fair chunk of change on running shoes every year). But running isn’t for everyone and it’s been my experience that the best way to stay fit is to find an activity you actually enjoy doing and will stick to. (I’ve often had friends who hate running but still try to force themselves into it and they never stick to it for very long.) While for me it’s running, for you it could be cycling or hiking or any other number of activities. If you hate running, try a bunch of other activities until you find something that works well for you.
In addition to running, I like to cross train with yoga, ballet, and boxing (all of which I started off by taking classes and getting professional instruction on). These are my favorite sports for flexibility and strength training and after a few years of going to gyms and studios, I’ve switched these to at-home workouts. I was lucky enough to snag some free boxing equipment from a friend who was clearing out his basement (including a body bag) so I’m able to spend time boxing at home (saving me some $175 a month in gym fees). For yoga and ballet, I turn to apps and YouTube a lot for routine inspiration and instructions (these are good for workouts at home or while traveling):
If you want to know more about my personal training schedule and workouts, I’ve started a series on my YouTube channel called “The Running Diaries.” In this series I’ll be following my marathon training over the next 16 weeks in addition to giving tips and answering any fitness questions. Subscribe to my channel for weekly videos and leave any questions or topics you want to see covered in the comments section below).
I sit a lot for work. Which isn’t great for my overall health (sitting is the silent killer, or so they say). Not only do I just not feel that great if I’m at my computer too long, but I’m also super prone to experiencing headaches and general screen fatigue. Ahh the plight of the staff writer! So to fight back against the negative effects of a desk job, I find little ways to add extra movement into my day. First off, I try to get at least a small workout in every morning (often just 10-15 minutes of yoga or core work). I find I concentrate better throughout the day and feel less sedentary if I workout in the a.m. In addition to a short morning workout at home, I try to squeeze in a pre-work run, either by getting up super early for a longer run or run commuting (which I do at least three days a week). Throughout the workday, there are a few things that I’ve found have helped me get in that little extra movement I need to feel fitter and healthier during the day:
I care a lot about what I eat, from both a health and an environmental standpoint (I’m not into dieting but I tend to eat 95 percent vegetarian and only purchase meat that is raised humanely, more environmentally friendly, and local to the Pacific Northwest). I also happen to really enjoy cooking, so I always meal plan and cook most of my own meals. But sometimes I find myself falling into a bit of an eating rut and cooking the same meal over and over and over and over again. One thing I’ve found that helps force me to swap up what I’m eating / get creative with my cooking is a food delivery service. I used Blue Apron for a while when I was so busy that meal prep was difficult, and I did like many of the recipes. Currently, though, I subscribe to Imperfect Produce instead. I have a box of seasonal fruits and veggies sent to me every two weeks, forcing me to search out recipes to use them in. I also like to pick an ingredient I’m not very experienced with and make eating it a theme for a couple weeks / month. This month I’m trying to eat more medjool dates and hemp seed hearts. Here are some of the different cookbooks, blogs, and food Instagram accounts that inspire me and widen my healthy cooking options:
Honorable mentions go to Pinterest, the Food 52 website, and NYTimes Cooking, for being my three go-to places to search for specific recipes or ideas for themed meals (such as when I needed to create a menu for Hanukkah). Though these aren’t health-specific websites, they are still fantastic resources (The NYTimes Cook Book is what I use for my all-around, everything cooking resource).
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.