Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Photos: Violet Guerrero Ponce
I began my wellness journey five years ago as a senior in college.
My senior thesis was a sociological research paper on food deserts in New York City. Food deserts are low-income areas with limited access to healthy food options that affects the health of people of color at disproportionate rates. Due to the fact that I grew up in the South Bronx – one of the biggest food deserts in NYC – this project inspired me to learn how to eat better.
After I graduated from Wesleyan University and moved back home to the Bronx, I introduced my parents to healthier food options and recipes. Our health habits are passed down from family members and in order to make a change, those unhealthy patterns need to be undone. My parents and I used to eat a lot of white bread and rice, cook with corn oil and white salt, drink whole milk, and so on. Over time, my mom began to notice that healthier meals made her body feel more energized. No matter how long you’ve been tied to old habits if you are willing to do what is right for your body you will be successful at making the lifestyle change.
My interest in nutrition did become obsessive at one point. This is because wellness is more than just food and I wasn’t taking a holistic approach. Looking back, I can see my mistakes. Now, as a certified yoga teacher with a healthy relationship with food, her body, and mind I want to give you the breakdown, step by step, on what you’ll need to start your own wellness journey.
1. Buy a journal
Journaling is a great tool for mental and physical health. Use a journal to write down your goals and track your progress on how your body is feeling, what you find difficult, reflections on areas you need support in and who you can ask for help. A journal is also a good way to keep track of your diet and your meal prep recipes you plan on cooking for the week. Feel free to fill it up with inspirational quotes, magazine cut out of workouts, mood logs, etc.
2. Groom your newsfeed
Holistic wellness is also mental wellness. If you're going to create new habits in your life you must stay motivated, feeling good about yourself and inspired to be the best you. Aggressive social media accounts that promote skinny as the ideal body type or excessive dieting will be detrimental to your journey. You don't need to cloud your mind with negative energy any longer. Delete or unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad, and follow motivating accounts that remind you to take care of yourself.
3. Buy a reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere you go
We all know that hydration is the key to a healthier mind and body. An easy way to increase your water intake is by having your own water accessible to you at all times. Invest in a water bottle with ounce markers and track how much you're drinking. Reusable water bottles are also more sustainable for the planet and your pockets.
4. Join the world of meal prepping
Very much like water, eating healthier is easier when you have easy access to it - and don't need to worry about cooking while you're already starving for your next meal. Do some research and pick two new healthy recipes that you would like to try for the week. Make enough of each to have for three days. Don't forget to have ready to go snacks as well.
5. Explore different types of exercise and stick to what makes you happy
There are so many ways to be active. Exercise isn't just the dreadful 45 minutes on a treadmill – which not to mention, there are people who actually enjoy running! This itself gets to my point. If you're going to invest time into getting fit, I suggest you do it by doing something that makes you happy. Remember the goal is not to be skinny! The goal is to get your body moving. You can take cycling classes, go on long walks, join a cross fit gym, or go boxing. The list is endless. Let yourself explore new things and when you find the ones you like, stick to them! If you would like to start out with at home workouts, check out our TGR workout videos by one of our content creators Juliana Velez.
Health isn’t something that can be crash coursed overnight. Wellness is a lifestyle and it’s important to ease into it so that both your mind and body have time to adjust to new ways of living. You will make mistakes, but I strongly believe that starting off slow leads to more consistency. Trust that each small step is significant and watch how your small victories will inspire a sincere desire to keep making positive changes in your life.