Creating a better me
2 years ago, my dad had persuaded to get out of my room where I lay there feeling sorry for myself over events at the time. I still remember that day of dragging myself out with puffy eyes, a heavy heart and disconnected soul from where he promised would make me feel better: the gym.
The last place I wanted to be.
I like to reflect back on that day frequently because it reminds me that:
- I can do anything and everything I set my mind to. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. My wellness journey is such an example of the power of the mind. As soon as I said to myself, “actually, yes, I can commit to this because this is important for me.” everything in my life took a 180-degree turn for the better.
- Life is all about choices. I had two choices 1) feel sorry for myself and do nothing 2) snap the fuck out of it and pick myself up. You will always have the choice to pick your reaction to anything and for me, on this day 2 years ago, I chose not to be left to continue the cycle.
These wake-up call moments is sometimes what you need to truly re-connect yourself when you’ve lost yourself. This is exactly what happened to me.
🤯Two years on
Apart from probably writing on the internet, I’ve never committed to something so consistently in my whole life. Incorporating a commitment towards health and well being in my life was one of the pivotal forces that have truly changed me for good… beyond my body!
When I think back to how I was before especially the state of my mental health, I tear up – I was so broken, scared, insecure and constantly anxious even in my own little shell. Two years on, I still take a lot of pride (and will forever) in the changes I’ve main for my mind, for my health, for my soul.
😊What prioritizing my health did for me
With Instagram being flooded with perfect poses and angles, we can often lose precious time scrolling, comparing and feeling increasingly awful about our own beautiful bodies. I admit that in the last two years, I have been a victim of this and in the process, have felt a strong disconnect in my mind. I not only want to remind myself but others reading this that there is a whole lot more to prioritizing your health to aesthetics.
So, before we get into the “Before” and “Now” shots, let’s focus on what this lifestyle has done for me outside of a slightly bigger butt (because there’s a lot more to it than this!)
- Confidence boost: The more I began confident with my body and growing strength, this manifested into confidence elsewhere: speak up, have my voice heard and to stand by my views e.g. speaking in public, networking etc. Gainz made beyond the gym!
- Understanding what self-love is: For me, it’s loving myself unconditionally and not relying on anyone else for a source of love and comfort because hey-yay: dear Pauline, I love you. Love, Pauline.
- Feeling strong and capable. And only getting stronger mentally and physically. It’s liberating now having the mental strength to truly transform adversity into something better and that of course, that I can open my own jars now xD
- Control of my emotions and waking up more days with a better outlook on life: it’s no surprise that what you do physically works on a mental level too. I noticed that ever since I incorporated this healthier lifestyle, I’m much happier and in control of my negative emotions.
💪🏼My fitness progress
Since last year’s post, I’ve made some changes in my fitness routine. From July 2017 up to around early July 2018, I completed Grace Fit’s Guide 1, 2 and 3 TWICE. I mostly tried to do these at the gym but when I couldn’t (because of other commitments) I adapted them to fit the equipment I had at home (which was plentiful because of my dad’s mini-gym at home!).
I prefer early morning workouts because they set out my day and I often make better choices in the rest of the day when it comes to food and other small exercises e.g. walking to work instead of taking the bus.
Since moving, I decided to switch up my Grace Fit Guide workouts purely for the sake of trying to keep it things new and fresh! After all, it had been a year of doing the program, I wanted to move on and try something new. I do recommend the workout guide by Grace, it is full of fun exercises and I always left the gym shook at what I put my body through! 😂
I have since July this year switched to AJA Cortes‘ workout program for women. I’ve admired Alexander’s work on Twitter for almost a year now and from just reading his emails, I’ve learnt so much about fitness. Inspired, I decided to go and get one of his programs to try out. I’m currently about a month into it and really enjoying the different format. To me, the most important thing is that I wake up wanting to do the workout and Alexander’s workout plan gives me exactly that!
Before and Now
- Ab definition
- Stronger legs and shrunk at my waist; my older jeans just won’t do anymore which is sooo frustrating let me tell you. *spends £££ for quality jeans, lol joke you can’t fit to them 3 months later 😂
- STRONGER upper body strength!
I’m proud of how far I’ve come from 2016 and although there has been very slow progress from 2017 to 2018…If there is one thing I have learnt this year it would be that muscle is hard to grow and stubborn fat is exactly that… stubborn.
Despite this, I’ve never felt stronger, healthier, happier and so damn in love with myself in my whole life. And that, for me, is the most important thing. 💖
— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) August 4, 2018
💭Mind over Matter
One thing that I’ve actually slipped on is my meditation practice. I initially got into the habit back in 2016 and kept this super long streak going on my meditation app called Calm – I was my calmest for sure. Unfortunately, sometime early in the year I got preoccupied with the busy schedule of my final year and out of all my healthier habits, prioritised physical health because of the feel-good-vibes straight after each workout.
I’m grateful for the times I do prioritise meditation practice (especially at times of high anxiety) and recently have gotten back into the swing of it during my long commutes, but this is something I want to get better at once more. My mindfulness journey has reminded me that it’s okay to slip up as long as you are willing to get back into it and for me, that willingness is always and will always be there. Action just has to follow, of course (this is a note to myself!) In the next year, I’m working towards spending more quiet time meditating and hopefully getting to 20 minutes of meditation like I had in the past.
A recent addition to Calm’s features is the “Sleep Stories” feature which I’ve enjoyed over the year – it’s helped me get to sleep faster when my mind is racing and thinking about my long list of to-dos.
Similarly, my gratitude practice has slipped and I haven’t kept up as much as I should have done. The gaps between my consistent journalling and losing focusing helped make me see once again how important it is that I get it drilled as a daily habit. After a month of journaling, reflecting and logging how I feel in the month compared to when I don’t, I have seen the differences in my mindset.
When I practice gratitude (it’s like a toothbrush to my mind; removing the things that are stuck in your teeth to make sure that your teeth are nice and healthy!), my first thoughts to anything are happier and much more positive than when I don’t. I still use the Five Minute Journal app and notebook for my practices – I’m hooked to its simplicity and would recommend it to all!
🍎You are what you eat
The saying has never been more real.
And I’ve never taken it more seriously than right now. Recently, I’ve been dedicated to being more mindful with my food choices. I ask myself, “Do I want this in my body? Will this make me feel good?” Taking this approach to food has made me improve my relationship with it (it will always fuel, not some sort of human punishment) I will never be strict with myself and so yes, I say yes to treats! I talk more about food in my Q+A below.
Something I also implemented this year was intermittent fasting which helped me move some stubborn fat and keep the food comas at bay. 🙌🏼A separate post on this to follow ~
💬Health Q+A Video
I wanted to make my health story more personal (more so than it already is) and help answer some the FAQ questions I get on social media daily by filming this video. I hope it’s helpful! I also really wanted to talk to the camera that day – ha, anyone else get days like that? 😆I’m always open to more questions so feel free to give me a shout!
0:48 – How much do you weigh?
1:21 – Do you have a set routine?
1:57 – How do you make sure that you’re eating well?
3:56 – What do you to fight off cravings?
4:41 – How many times should I do cardio VS weights to reduce fat?
5:48 – What fat loss exercise do I need to do when I don’t have access to the gym?
6:31 – Have you ever prioritised other things over your health? e.g. learning?
7:15 – How do you keep motivated?
10:00 – How many XP did you gain since starting to go to the gym?
10:14 – Do you do fasted cardio?
10:46 – How challenging is it for you to workout in the morning? Why do you do morning workouts as opposed to evening?
(Also around here found an editing error – oops! Sorry!)
12:34 – What time do you go to bed?
12:38 – How do you stay consistent?
13:31 – Why do you take so many selfies? Nobody cares. 🙄
✨The work towards a better me isn’t complete, it never will be.
A perfect state of mental and physical health doesn’t exist – we all have our moments, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.
I miss days, sometimes even a week or two of exercise. I’ve lost my 500-day streak on my mindfulness journey. I’ve had a month of eating junk food to “comfort myself” during a stressful time. And that’s okay. Because I am human.
Because no matter how much I “fall off track” I know I will always come back to the thing that ground me, that keeps me happy and that strengthen my body and mind and that made #pawsitivity a thing (also known as high on endorphins xD)
In a year’s time when I write another year of positive habits and self-care… I want to be able to mention that:
- YES, this is still a habit.
- YES, I am in the same positive and healthy headspace with my body and mind.
- YES, I am stronger than I was (especially in my upper body strength)
- YES, my legs are strong enough to break necks
- YES, I am still thankful to the girl I was 3 years ago that decided to take responsibility for her health. For body, for mind, for soul and for loving the heck out of myself.
🤗August – the month of giving back to you!
As a thank you to everyone that has been supporting my health journey (we’ve come a long way since 2016!) I’d like to give back by hosting another giveaway this month! This one is a favourite because it is a giveaway voucher of my favourite fitness brand (which should be no surprise to you by now…) GYMSHARK!
One of the main motivations in my journey has been Gymshark, I’m in love with the brand, the people (both staff and associated athletes) who put in a lot of effort in their products. I want to share this love with you all! 🙌🏼
For a chance to win £50 voucher to spend at Gymshark, tell me in the comments (or on social media using the hashtag #pawgainz) what does health mean to you?
Thank you all for being a part of my journey and following along – here’s to another successful year of #PawGainz!