STRONG NOT SKINNY: HOW TO BE HEALTHY WITHOUT BEING TOO HARD ON YOURSELF

Internet and magazines are full of information about how to get into “shape”, how to lose fat or how to become healthier. It’s all about what you should and shouldn’t eat as well as how you should exercise. In my opinion this advice is too generic to apply for all the people in different age, different metabolisms and different eating preferences.

So, I decided write this blogpost in which I am going to share my views and advice on how women of my age could have a healthy BMI (body mass index) without being too hard on themselves. I am going to share details of the history of my relationship to my body, my metabolism and my current diet and exercise routine. I hope this would bring light to all your minds who struggle to find the right way to start off your lifestyle of health and fitness! 

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My diet has shaped itself throughout the years. I used to be a bit chubby, around 65kg to my 165cm ( 10 stones, 5.4 feet. Now I am 8 stones ) and ever since I was 18 I started thinking and liking the idea of being skinnier but also healthier. I just didn’t understand how to do it. When I was a child, my dad wanted me to do all sorts of sports so I sort of grew to hate it and for a long time exercise didn’t appeal to me. When I was 16 I began studying in this performance arts high school in Helsinki, the capital, and for years to come the weekends were mainly just house parties, later on bars, aka BEER. Beer, snacking, hangover food, you know it. I kept gaining so much weight throughout the years and little did I do to stop it. During the week my meals would be microwave food (my mum didn’t teach me how to cook, cheers mam🤷) or just white pasta or something really unhealthy, easy. Only when I moved to London in the age of 20 I seriously thought “right, this lifestyle is going to stop” and it did.

First and foremost I cut down on beer. After I cut down on beer I cut hangover food cycle and after cutting that cycle I learned to cook properly, to understand what consistent meals were about. Then I even became “pesca-vegan” which means that I cut dairy, meat and chicken etc. entirely but kept eating fish. At this point I understand if some of my vegan readers might get a bit grumpy and feel I’ve got double standards but I have just personally struggled really hard to give up fish. For some people it’s cheese, for me it’s salmon, tuna and shrimps. Taste, yes, but I also haven’t found the equivalent in the veg world that works for me (because of the long list of things that don’t also suit my tummy). I also find that collagen supplements containing fish are the best and cheapest option for me because I’m already spending most of my money avoiding eating other animals and being cruelty free. But more about that later…

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Back to the point. Instead of eating wheat pasta I’ve chosen full wheat pasta, sometimes even gluten free. I love the taste of garlic but it makes me bloat which then makes me then look like I’ve gone back to 10 stone. Mostly garlic just makes me feel awful. Aubergines and beans makes me bloat too but the worst of all is wheat. Cutting back wheat has made me a lot slimmer, happier and more energised. There’s lots of books about how we shouldn’t eat wheat because for some people, especially women, it can cause mood swings, tiredness and even boost depression. I used to suffer from hypothyroidism  , I’ve listed below the symptoms that applied to me using webmd.com.

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dry hair and hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Greater sensitivity to cold
  • Slow heart rate
  • Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight

So, eating mainly wheat in different forms and lack of exercise just boosted it. This two year process of changing my lifestyle nearly upside down helped my hypothyroidism to get better, and now it’s fully cured. I eat Doritos every now and again – I like the odd Coca Cola too (original as all those preservatives in Diet Coke are worse for your body than sugar, actually) and I have pizza and beer every or every other week. I will do a more detailed post about what I eat, too!

Guys. I’m not saying that I have now fully achieved what I want; I recently joined gym again because I want to be stronger and gain muscle, but I can say I am happy in my body. We make the mistake of comparing ourselves to other women and men without realising that we should all just aim to be within a healthy BMI. If I am honest with you, I resent the darker side of body positivity where people think that being obese is OK. Being obese is not ok, it’s not sexy or beautiful simply because dying is not sexy. Diabetes or cancer is not beautiful. What I’m saying is that normal is beautiful. Curves are sexy. Check out Neva Swartzendruber @ditch__the__diet,  because that’s what I’m on about, that’s what I look up to and wish to see more on social media! (Obviously there are people who suffer from different types of diseases who can’t help their weight-gaining. But you folks know what I mean.)

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I personally exercise 4-5 times a week, after work. 3-4 times a week I do different muscle and weight training; abs, butt, back, biceps, triceps… Then 1-2 times I week I do cardio between 15-30mins. I vary everything because in order to lose weight or gain muscle you need to keep your body surprised. You also need to listen to your body. Push yourself, but don’t make yourself resent working out. Keep going but know when to stop, or to do less today and more tomorrow instead. Focus on your heart rate. I know you want to just blast it on the treadmill but go on the cross trainer instead, do an interval training and keep your eye on that HR. In order to burn fat, you need your heart rate to be 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Again – vary it.

PS. I have recently been accepted to be a brand ambassador for the fitness clothing brand Just Strong. Just Strong’s motto is Strong Not Skinny which is exactly what we should all aim for. I love their clothes, they are so comfortable and so hip. To know what I mean, you can use my discount code NELLIYLI10 to get 10% off of your orders!

PPS. You can do it!!!!

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