Nowadays, you see the terms "Holistic and Sustainable Life" getting thrown around social media more often than all the Bitcoin posts. But what does this mean? And how can we adapt these habits and lifestyles into our crazy busy schedules?
Holistic and sustainable health is based on the idea that "true health" comes from maintaining a balance of the mind, body and soul that is practised every day throughout your life. But truthfully, we can adapt this approach in all aspects of our life.
There isn't one answer to this concept, and it will vary between individuals based on their goals, values, and beliefs in our ever-changing environment. Therefore, it is essential to keep in mind that nothing is ever black and white and making a shift to live a healthier lifestyle is A LOT easier said than done. Believe me, I know!
There are so many elements in cultivating a sustainable & healthy lifestyle, and there are always actions and ways we can improve on. Still, one fundamental lesson that I've learned is that many small steps lead to HUGE results! Sometimes we think that we have to make massive changes in our lives to see the difference - never underestimate the power of small and simple changes. Small shifts and daily practises compounding over time are the things that make the REAL difference.
Now, the goal of "living sustainably and healthy" is about as broad of a spectrum as you can get. But, if you break it down into smaller goals and work towards those, then you CAN do it! You just need to know where to get started.
Let's look at sustainability.
As I said previously, sustainable living can be practised in all areas of our life. To know where to start, we have to find a small goal that is easily reachable and maintainable. Once we've practised it for long enough, it will soon turn into a part of your daily routine and become a habit; then, we can add a new goal on top of this. This is called the stacking method. Add one habit into your daily routine, and eventually, it will become a part of your life (just like brushing your teeth). Discipline is what gets you to reach your goals, NOT motivation! Motivation only gets you started.
This sounds a lot easier than done; trust me, I know! My mistake was setting myself too many goals all at once:
starting a 3-month boot camp while eating super clean,
restricting myself from having any treats or alcohol for six days of the week
making sure I hit my step goal every day
I can honestly tell you that this didn't even last two weeks. And it's not because I don't have the discipline to do it, but it's because there's something called LIFE, and some days it hits you like a ton of bricks! During those days, you need to realize that adding more stress, will do more harm than good. I also really like going for a spontaneous dinner with my friends or boyfriend, sharing a bottle of wine and eating the whole pizza. But this wasn't possible with the goals I set for myself, and I landed up "starting over" every Monday, way too many times to count.
So, where should we start?
Here are a few of my small habits that I began to implement into my life, which I've found much easier to stick to and could be the start of your sustainable and healthy life:
Drinking more water
This is one of the most important topics in leading a healthier life.
Staying hydrated leads to better digestion, clearer skin, less bloating and fewer cravings.
It's the easiest (and quickest) shift that you can make.
Aim for 2-4 litres of water a day.
Carry around a bottle with you and it will help remind you to keep drinking. It can get a bit boring, so feel free to add natural flavours like lemon, cucumber, mint or berries.
Move your body every day
Every movement counts.
Never underestimate the power of NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). This is the energy we burn doing everyday movements, like walking, typing, fidgeting, cooking, cleaning etc.
The calories we burn from NEAT average around 15-30% of our daily calorie expenditure, whereas a single gym session ranges around 5-10%.
If you're looking to lose weight, remember to look at your NEAT expenditure and climb those stairs, park in the furthest parking space, or be the person to get up and grab the remote (small changes lead to HUGE results)!
Make sleep a priority
Allowing your body to rest will show you immediate results! Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Any type of exercise or change in your life will put pressure on the body. If you don't allow your body to relax and heal itself from stress, you will quickly reap the repercussions.
Make healthier food choices
I am the first to admit that I have a complete obsession with food (healthy and less healthy foods).
I love a glass of wine or gin & tonic, so yes, I know this is a hard one!
Start with ONE small change and slowly add more.
Add more vegetables and salad onto your plate and take less bread or pasta.
You don't have to cut it out completely, but eat less non-nutritious foods and fill up on nutritious, whole foods.
Nourishing and fuelling your body with nutritious foods is a form of self-care and will leave you feeling much more energized.
Nutrition is very individual, so find what works for you, educate yourself on healthier food options, and experiment with different recipes.
Find the exercise that you love
There isn't one type of exercise that is best.
The one that is best for you is what you enjoy most!
If you do not enjoy the workouts you are doing; you will never stick to it.
I love strength training, EMS and boxing. Don't even put me near a swimming pool or attempt to get me on a treadmill (I feel like a hamster running on the same spot for no reason).
Finding out what works for you is SO important!
As you move your body day after day, you will feel stronger and more confident. Not only will your muscles grow, but your self-love as well, and that is the power of small changes.
When I started AktivBody, my women behind the company and I had one goal in mind - to help promote holistic, realistic and sustainable lifestyles while juggling our full-time jobs, social lives, and family time. So our focus was on training programmes, nutrition guides, self-care, self-love and appreciation. But we quickly realized that we left out another essential and equal factor in the sustainable and holistic approach. And that's the impact that we leave on the environment.
Now we all know the basic "eat fewer animal products, recycle, reuse and reduce your carbon footprint etc." But how could we make a difference in the fitness sector? One way - Avoid fast fashion, where you can.
What is "fast fashion"
Fast fashion refers to brands that produce high volumes of clothing throughout the year—buying a new piece of clothing used to involve visiting a seamstress, getting measured, choosing the materials, and then waiting weeks to make the piece.
Instead of launching new styles twice a year, fast fashion companies have 52 micro-seasons. This gives consumers ongoing access to new, on-trend clothing at an affordable price. And we can buy them online with the click of a button.
It turns out there's a long list of reasons why it's important not to support fast fashion. The low price we pay for these clothes comes at the expense of other people, the environment, and the irreplaceable future of our planet.
It's difficult to pinpoint just how much waste the fashion industry produces. Still, research has estimated that Americans spend roughly 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textiles to the landfill annually, with just 20% being reused or recycled. Researchers also predict that waste will reach 148 million tons annually by 2030.
Fast fashion garments also contain pesticides (from conventionally-grown cotton) and are often treated with toxic chemicals like heavy metals, flame retardants, formaldehyde, and ammonia. So what happens to clothes that sit in landfills? Instead of breaking down, they leach chemicals into the ground, air, and water. Clothing that isn't sold within the rapid production cycle, or can't be recycled or dumped, is incinerated.
This brings me to a company that we have recently collaborated with, called Copenhagen Cartel. As soon as I heard what this company does, I knew that we needed to get involved.
Copenhagen Cartel produces swimwear and activewear from recycled plastic and waste found in the ocean. They have also just released a line where the clothing has been created from a unique blend of ocean seaweed and organic cotton. Copenhagen Cartel's purpose and mission are to clear the ocean's plastic by challenging the way they produce and consume clothing and textiles, using innovative fibre, materials and production methods.
As a company, they have started a community where anyone can join their beach cleanups throughout the year while bringing awareness to this detrimental problem. In addition, they give waste and waste resources, which are usually considered worthless, new life and offer a wide range of sustainable products that put people and climate before profit.
Their products focus on design, quality and responsibility. The key element in all parts of the production process is their ambition to ease the pressure on the climate from our current production and consumption patterns and their desire to save on the planet's precious resources.
Our goal at AktivBody and Aktiv20 is to bring awareness to other companies, and consumers, that there is a way to do things better. There is a potential greener future in the way that we produce clothing. If more people would support companies with this goal in mind, then maybe we won't be swimming in oceans filled with plastic in 10 years. Let's help our future generations enjoy a thriving, clean and healthy planet.
Now, remember that this is only one small company, but if enough people make a small change and start to support these initiatives, big companies will not have the choice but to keep up and change the way they do things. This will be a drastic change for our future. I repeat, to NEVER underestimate the power of small changes!