The Healthy Lifestyle Choices I’m Making + Returning To The Gym a Year Later

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Returning to The Gym a Year Later

The Healthy Lifestyle Choices I’m Making + Returning To The Gym a Year Later

Last week I was reading an old blog post I wrote back in 2018. It was a list of fitness tips that I had discovered over the years. In it, I detailed the various things I did that led me to make healthy lifestyle choices and kick ass in the gym. Fast forward three years and things have changed dramatically.

Before last week, I hadn’t stepped inside a gym in almost a year. As soon as the gyms (and everything else) shut down in Los Angeles, I purchased a treadmill, dumbbells, and resistance bands and did my best to have a decent workout inside my apartment. Then, before moving to New York City, I spent the summer in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Having the warm weather on my side made it pretty easy to exercise outside (the view of the ocean didn’t hurt either.) Once autumn hit, things changed for me and I sort of lost my drive and also, I wasn’t eating healthy. I managed to push myself to lift weights in our apartment or run on the treadmill a few times a week, but to say it became a chore would be an understatement. For dinner, rather than cooking up something full of nutrients, I would order takeout or heat up a pre-packaged frozen meal in the microwave. 

During the height of the holidays, Billy and I moved to New York City. Covid-19 was at an all-time high and the last thing I wanted was to be surrounded by people breathing heavily in close quarters. As February approached, we watched the cases in New York drop, so we made the decision to get back to working out like we used to. For me, I can’t just purchase a gym membership and stop there. If I’m going to dedicate my time to exercising I will also devote time to making healthy lifestyle choices, otherwise it’s hard for me to stay motivated. Below, I’m outlining a few of the positive changes I’ve made in my life outside of the gym. Plus, a little about what it’s like to workout during a pandemic

PS: Of course, there’s going to be plenty of people who wouldn’t step foot inside a gym right now and that’s okay, and there’s plenty who went back as soon as they reopened, and that’s okay, too. It’s all about doing what you’re comfortable with.

Drinking more water

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Sakara's Detox Water Drops

To be honest, I’d rather drink a Clean Energy drink or open up a can of flavored seltzer water, then drink plain water. This is something I’ve grappled with for as long as I remember. I’ve even gone as far as putting stickers in my planner in hopes it would encourage me to intake more water throughout the day, but that didn’t work. Recently, I bought a time marker water bottle, which has helped significantly. It holds 32 ounces and I try to fill it up three times per day. The timestamp starts at 7am and goes to 11am, and then on the other side it starts at 1pm and goes to 5pm. Next to each timestamp is a motivational message like, “you look great today” and “nothing is impossible.” Because it’s leakproof and dishwasher safe, I purchased another water bottle to take with me to the gym. 

I started adding Sakara’s Detox Water Drops into my water. The emerald green liquid Chlorophyll has a ton of health benefits. When consumed daily, it can improve liver function, eliminate toxins and heavy metals, boost energy and immunity, and help with gut health. I add one dropper to 16 ounces of water twice a day. Since I’ve been using it (about three weeks now), I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my skin tone, which looks brighter, more even, and glowing. I’ve also seen my energy levels increase.

An afternoon protein shake

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Unicorn Superfood Chocolate Banana Fudge Smoothie Recipe

I have a protein smoothie for lunch, but it’s also a sort of pre-workout boost since I exercise in the late afternoon or early evening. I’ll alternate between Unicorn Superfoods, chocolate fudge, and vanilla cake. Both are plant-based, so I’m still getting 20 grams of protein per serving while avoiding animal products. Each powder contains healthy essentials like digestive enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. They’re also naturally sweetened so I don’t have to worry about consuming artificial sugar. In my Ninja Fit blender, I mix these ingredients and blend for a minute.

Chocolate banana fudge smoothie:

  • 2 heaped tablespoons of protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • ½ frozen banana
  • Handful of HuKitchen dark chocolate gems (or any vegan chocolate)
  • Fill almond milk up to the line (16 ounces) and blend

Strawberry cupcake smoothie:

  • 2 heaped tablespoons of protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • Handful of frozen strawberries 
  • Fill almond milk up to the line (16 ounces) and blend

I’ve also been making healthy snacks that I find on @unicornsuperfoods. The other day I made these no bake protein brownie bars, and they were insanely delicious! You can view the recipe here.

A pre-workout energy boost

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: A Shot of MCT Oil Before My Workout

I started drinking Ethan’s MCT oil in coffee flavor back when I lived in L.A. I remember the first day I tried it. I was shopping at Whole Foods and looking for something natural to give my gym session a boost. I asked the women working in the supplement aisle what she recommended and she suggested Ethan’s. Not knowing much about MCT oil, I went home, researched it and saw there were a ton of benefits. During this time, I was forcing myself to go to the gym and had very little energy. It was winter, getting dark super early, and I preferred to be at home watching a movie rather than working out. All that changed that day when I took a shot and went to the gym. I had so much energy while I was running on the treadmill and instead of getting off and feeling tired; I was ready to kick ass lifting weights. Since then, Ethan’s has become one of my go-to sources for natural energy minus the dreaded crash.

Healthy (and easy to make) dinners

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Eat Clean To Go Vegan Delivery Meal Service

The day after New Years I had the meal delivery service that I was using in L.A. transferred to my New York apartment, but I was surprisingly disappointed at the dinners. Since the food is locally sourced, the chefs and restaurants that were partnered with the L.A. delivery differed from NYC. After giving it a try for a few weeks, I canceled my membership and went back to making (or I should say, reheating) dinners from Trader Joe’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love Trader Joe’s—the food is tasty and convenient, but I’ve been trying to make healthy lifestyle choices by avoiding processed foods, especially since that’s all I ate for months. 

I did a quick Google search for plant-based delivery services in New York City and discovered Eat Clean to Go. This is my third week using their service and so far there hasn’t been one meal I didn’t like. In fact, I’ve raved about them so much, Billy just signed up and will be getting his first delivery later this week. Every Friday I get six meals (a mix of breakfasts and dinners) delivered to my door. I’m able to pick and choose what I want based on my dietary preferences. My personal choices are plant-based, but they have options for Paleo, keto, and traditional diets. 

Even though I’ve enjoyed each dish, it’s hard to pick one or even two favorites! Here are a few items on their menu that I look forward to—sweet chili chickpea meatballs and red potato mash; almond scone muffins with dairy free yogurt; crusted chik’n parmesan tenders with garlic and herb rotini; and tofu black bean and vegan cheese burrito.

Nutritious snacking

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Hummus and Every But The Bagel Pretzel Chips

A few months ago my go-to snacks consisted of Reese’s Peanut Cups, Peanut M&Ms, and potato chips. This was a far cry from what I used to eat in between meals and from what I should be eating. I have an all-or-nothing approach to snacking. If I open up a bag of Reese’s, the next day it’s hard to eat raw vegetables. When I made the decision to get back to eating healthy, I told myself that I would give up junk food. I could have tried to find a balance (which works for some people), but I know myself and I needed to make a clean break from the chocolate and processed foods. Now, I’ll have an energy bar, acai bowl, fresh fruit, hummus, and when I’m craving chocolate I’ll make a protein shake.

Switching up my workouts

The Healthy Lifestyle Choices I’m Making + Returning To The Gym a Year Later

Depending on where you live, masks in gyms are pretty much mandatory. This is good in the sense that it’s helping people who want to workout get back to the gym while keeping the spread of Covid-19 cases down. Unfortunately, it also gets in the way of my cardio workouts because I can’t imagine running at full speed with a mask covering my face. 

Before the pandemic, I exercised for about two hours, three to four days per week, and I’d split my time between cardio and weights. Now, the way I workout looks a lot different. I strive to do some form of physical activity five to six days a week. I reserve my gym sessions just for the weight machines, and my cardio is done at home (maskless) on my treadmill. I actually spend more days working out now, but I’m exercising for about the same amount of hours as I used to, so it balances out. Once the weather gets nicer, I will take my cardio outside and go for a run, or bring my resistance bands to a park down the street and workout outside (something I loved doing last summer).

What it’s like to go to the gym during a pandemic

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Returning to The Gym a Year Later

When I first enter the gym, my temperature is checked at the door and I sign in via my phone. Masks must be worn at all times per the government mandate, so everyone’s face is covered. There are stations with cleaning solutions and paper towels in multiple areas, and we’re encouraged to clean the machines before and after we use them. Gyms in New York can only operate at 25% capacity, so I don’t have to worry about all the equipment being taken, and that makes my workout go by a lot faster. As soon as I’m finished, I have to sign out, so the staff knows how many people are on the floor and how many they can let in. At first, I was a bit nervous since this was such a change, but I’ve become a lot more comfortable with it (I’ve even gotten used to lifting weights with a mask on) and look forward to my evening gym sessions.

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