7 steps to a healthy diet

A healthy diet is something that we all strive for. For me a healthy diet is not about constantly limiting yourself. It’s about deciding to eat products that are beneficial for your well-being. You will never feel great after devouring a Big Mac. Each time I eat one I always regret I did. There is not one occassion where I was genuinely happy I ate something processed, oily or tasting artificial. On the other hand, there were numerous times I felt amazing after having a smoothie, vegetable soup or a homemade lunch.

A ball of fresh grapes

Personally, I struggle constantly with a healthy, well-balanced diet. I had problems with what I eat ever since I moved out of my home a decade ago. I lived alone in a huge city with all those possibilities within arm’s reach and gained an astonishing 20 kg (50 lbs). My problem was that we live in a world where food is very easily accessible. I move my finger over the screen of my phone and McDonald’s is delivered to my apartment in less than 30 minutes. I can online shop for food, order anything I want and there’s no one to judge me, as I’m all alone in my four walls. 

Food is obviously a great part of our life. We cannot live without it, nor would we ever want to. It became an anti-depressant, stress-reliever and  happiness inducers for many of us. Unfortunately, good quality of meals is directly related to how our bodies look and as well all want to be attractive our diet must improve.  Ever since January 2019 I have embarked on a weigh-loss journey and lost 7 kg [15 lbs] and going strong towards my goal. I’m not a specialist nor am I a trained professional, but I think my progress and how well I feel with all the changes can be of help for you.

Here are my 7 steps for a healthy diet that I had successfully implemented into my own life.

A sliced, healthy avocado

1. Eat outmeal or muesli for breakfest

Ever since the beginning of the year I made sure to incorporate low-sugar muesli or oatmeal into my diet. I usually purchase a bag of muesli and eat it with natural yoghurt. During week days I prepare it at work (it takes around 10 minutes for muesli to soak in the yoghurt and not taste like sawdust. At first I struggled with the flavour – it’s not a delicious piece of cake and it’s hard to get used to… very delicate taste. After eating enhanced food for years, it’s quite demanding to switch to a natural one. Fortunately, just after a couple of weeks I noticed a visible improvement in taste (or maybe I simply got used to it, I can’t be sure). I ate muesli so often now I crave it. This morning I had an avocado toast and felt like oatmeal is so much better. It is important not to immediately give up. I understand it won’t be pleasant at first, but when you give it a try it will get better in time. I promise, you will thank me later.

2. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate

You probably hear that a lot, don’t you? But have you ever followed that advice? Do you actually drink at least 2 litres of water per day? For the last several months I do, but it took me a significant amount of time to get accustomed to. I started with a very easy task: I had a glass of lemon water each morning, just after waking up. I hated how the water tasted and had to add flavour by adding either lemon or cucumbers. Then, after several weeks, I added another big glass of water to lunch. At first I felt as though I drink too much, but the more water I consumed, the better I felt. Another week passed and I drank 8 glasses of water a day (or 4 bottles). When I reached my goal, I felt amazing! I had so much energy and spark. For a person that never drank lots of water I started craving it. Quite frankly felt unwell when I didn’t get enough. Even now, typing and figuring out which pictures would be most suitable this particular post, I already had two big glasses of sparkling water.

Convince yourself that the more you drink the better you’re going to feel. Also, drinking water boosts metabolism and helps you along the weight-loss journey. 

3. Switch to home cooking

Won tons.

Treat it as an adventure. Developing a daily cooking habit is quite difficult, but it will have so many positive effects you will never regret it. First of all,  food you get at the restaurant is never healthy. It is loaded with preservatives and flavour enhancers. I know it’s much easier to get a yummy hot wing, but your body is not going to be impressed by you devouring so much fat. Second of all, it’s pricy. Obviously, lunch at this new bistro you noticed down the street is at least twice more expensive than lunch you could prepare at home. Also, pre-prepared meals are a trap of enhancers, debatable ingredients and lost cash. 

If you’re motivated, but don’t know how to start, think about what’s stopping you. I discovered that most of the time I didn’t want to cook because I simply didn’t know what to make. I found a website with delicious and healthy recipes and have been following ever since. Even tonight, when I’m sick and trying to calmly die in my bed flooded by running nose, I am going to get up and prepare chicken, rice and vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch at work. 

Sometimes I gave up cooking because I felt like it takes way too much time. 

The same site with recipes helped me by offering short and simple instructions for cooking great, healthy meals. If I was too lazy to go shopping I looked at my bank account and convinced myself, that spending 50 PLN [12 euro or 15$] per lunch is not going to help me save money. I also visualized myself looking bomb and it’s been a great help as well. If you’re interested about my meal-planning routine or my love for slowfood check this post here

4. Make several smart swaps

It’s difficult to eliminate unhealthy food from your diet entirely, but you can definitely make several swaps that will improve your health. I have started with not adding sugar to tea. Instead, I drink them plain or with honey. I eat only full-grain bread as it’s easier to get full with smaller slices.  Look at my list and think of more products which can be easily swapped:

  • never buy flavoured yoghurt. It’s so much tastier to eat a natural one with pieces of fresh fruit. 
  • don’t spend cash on pre-produced products, rather buy fresh ones and cook them yourself,
  • skip the mayo and change it for a greek yoghurt,
  • always order the smaller size of portions, chances are you’ll get full with the food you get. If not you can always order more, if yes – you get additional cash!
A piece of cake and coffee

5. Eat sweets in moderation

I have a full understanding that living sugar-free is a difficult existence. But boy, have I tried! I have struggled with weight for my entire life and a sweet tooth I have has been rather detrimental for my “slim” figure. With years passing I have accepted that there is no way I will ever be able to eliminate sweets from my diet. I accepted that a long time ago and so instead of forcing myself to ditch sweets forever I’m simply eating in moderation. I can have a piece of cake at my niece’s birthday party, I can eat dessert on holidays or even eat a candy bar during a cheat day, but I won’t eat more than I really want. Sometimes one little candy can be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.  

The problem is that more often than not we don't focus on our needs and keep eating more chocolate because we didn't notice we've had enough

I try to focus more on food and be present and mindfull of what I put in my mouth. Each time I take a bite of something sweet I’m wondering if I want more of it? Was it enough? How did it make me feel? Do I really want more sugar? In most of the cases I don’t and I simply stop eating. Try this exercise at home as it really helps to eat sweets in moderation. Also, as I am used to eating whatever I want (and thus I’m on a weight-loss journey) the cognitive dissonance of not wanting more sweets is quite mindblowing.

6. Believe in 80/20 ratio

80/20 ratio is a simple rule  of eating food that is in 80% good for you and in 20% less healthy. I use this canon for everything in life as I believe balance is necessary for happiness. My regular week consists of 6 days when I eat healthy and a cheat day when I can eat everything I want. I plan cheat days in advance: this week it’s going to be Sunday. There is no limit of what and how much I can eat during a cheat day, but if you keep strong on remaining days you’re not going to eat much more for a splurge day. Also, the healthier you eat the less harmful food you’re going to crave. Right now I have spread myself a little too thin and got lost in sweets and fats. I have simply lost track of my healthy habits and have been struggling to go back, but I still kept the ratio of 80%/20%, hence I didn’t gain any weight.  

7. Keep away from alcoholic beverages

In general alcohol is a terrible idea. When I was younger, I used to party all the time. I could return home at 5 am, get a couple hours of sleep and go straight to work/classes. Then repeat the whole process and never feel bad or too tired. Right now as I’m 28, I can feel the difference. I never stay up later than 1 am as my eyes are already shutting down anyway. I also can’t drink too much alcohol as my stomach protests in the worst of ways. And the thought of the headache, exhaustion and all the other symptoms of hangover is just damming. 

It is not a secret that alcohol is not good for health. 

Quite frankly, it not only causes you to eat more (and less healthy) but it is also dehydrating and damages your natural immune system. I don’t have any tip for you as to how to stop drinking alcohol in general. I’m terrible at it. Seldomly, I love a glass of wine with a fancy dinner, or a pint of beer with friends on Friday nights. Because of my 80/20 rule I indulge in an occasional drink only once a week (it has to be a cheat day) and I’ve noticed positive changes in my skin and general well-being.

Start your healthy lifestyle right now

I hope my tips will help you get on track with a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions or tips for me, please write them in the comment or contact me through e-mail. Thank you very much for reading my post and visiting Journal of Dorota.

Within your own self is a treasury… an ocean of pure bliss, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, love, happiness, energy and peace… within every human being.

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

Slow movement has been around for over a decade and ever since 2015 I’ve been trying to join in. Fascinated with discovering new ways in which I can simply relax and decrease the tempo of my life I have searched for many clues and tips on how to implement several aspects of Slow Life into my own existence.

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Starting from an explanation as to why I think it’s something worth looking up, let me quickly mention that in 2015 I moved to Olsztyn (a beautiful city in a Warmian district of Poland) where I worked on a construction site. I didn’t know anyone in that particular city, nor at the company I worked for, and having no WI-FI connection I drifted towards spending my entire time with work colleagues in the office. I can’t express how much I regret it, especially since I know now how it turned out at the end, but what I learned is that living with such a great rate can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. At some point I was so tired of constantly working (also partying) and being surrounded by people and chores that I got a terrible case of irritated stomach which led me to eat only boiled vegetables for a week. I was exhausted and lost and the thing that helped me the most were long walks along lakes and through forests.

In that same period I received a book about eliminating all chemical components from food and living a more healthy lifestyle. I didn’t implement many of the tips into my own life, but it was a factor that influenced my interest in Slow Movement in general. The author of the book was very much in love with the concept and she advised all the readers to tag along. I looked up all the information I needed and learned about FOMO (Fear of missing out) and other concepts related to how fast the world revolves around us and how much information we are flooded with each day.

For a time I have stopped trying to implement Slow Life and I focused on my career, education and other aspects, which at that time seemed more important. Then, when I least expected it, I reached a rather dark period of my life. I remember it was December 22nd of last year and it was already 5 PM. I was at work, last day before Christmas holidays, and the remaining task of the day was to simply get some papers signed, but that particular day it honestly seemed like the entire world is against me. I finished so late I didn’t have enough strength to go to my mom and help her with all the “cooking”.

When I got home I was so frustrated I decided to never let myself work longer than I absolutely must, try harder than anyone else and do things that are not within my scope of responsibility. During that moment I learned instantly how to say no to my coworkers and how to stay focused on what I am paid for and not constantly performing tasks for other people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t help anyone, of course, it means that I spend my work hours doing the actual work I am paid to do. I got back after the holidays and started leaving work at 3 or 4 PM. My friends looked at me with disapproval at first, but with time they gladly joined. Also, ironically, I got praised way more often by my supervisors – I was well-rested, driven and motivated to perform MY TASKS the best I could. That’s when I truly believed the concept of living slowly is beneficial to all.

Now when you already went through all this rather long preface let me get to the point.

During my introspective work I established 5 main points on how to join the Slow Life Movement.

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One of my favourite ways to relax. Playing a boardgame with Floret outside in the warm, summer weather.

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

1. Respect your time.

I really can’t stress that too strongly. If you are not paid for working overtime… don’t. If you feel uncomfortable with someone and often feel left out by your friends – just don’t spend time with these people. If you constantly feel stressed  at work you should think of changing it or adjusting your attitude (about it later on in point 5).

Like I said above, I had a great problem with establishing boundaries in my life in terms of work. I thought that the more I tried the better people will perceive me and treat me like a better employee. I was wrong. I busted my ass off and after that unforgetful December afternoon I’d been working 50% of what I usually did and I am praised even more often. I am well rested, have more energy and motivation to finish tasks I am assigned to do – not some additional chores I impose on myself because I feel like they are required of me.

Sometimes when I read all those “tips and hints” written by corporate rats on how to be a perfect employee and I see words like driven, ambitious, confident, going extra mile, I feel like smashing my laptop on the floor (and it’s the laptop from my work, so that would cost me). Like seriously, you either do your job or not, if you go an extra mile for anything that is not for yourself you’re going to lose. People will see how much you’re trying and will use you for it. I know it sounds bitter, but it is true. Going an extra mile to improve YOURSELF – that is something that will make you stand out.

Let me give you an example (and prove I’m not just a corporation hater). I’ve been working in a designing office (for electrical installation, nothing concerning fashion – I know, a pity) and I used to stay many hours overtime to help my friend with his tasks. I wasn’t paid to do it, but I felt really sorry for him for being so overloaded with tasks. Up until I heard that he was lying around doing nothing while I have essentially done all his work. Well… at least he was honest that I was doing it well. I went an extra mile, but not for improving myself, but rather because I felt like I needed to be helpful.

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I spent a couple of minutes simply sitting here hugging with Floret. Solina lake is beautiful at this time of year. When the weather gets better we hope to rent a boat and check various islands on the lake.

2. Find time to relax.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be an entire week of frying your butt on a beach in Ibiza. You can start by simply spending a little bit of time just looking at nature, people passing you by or putting a face mask on. Whatever relaxes you (in my case playing PlayStation games with my boyfriend or reading a book) – either taking a walk, taking pictures of flowers or planting new monstera. Whatever works for you will be great. Try to implement at least 15 minutes of relax each day and increase this time every week by another 5 minutes until you reach at least and hour. (Side note: if your method requires electronics try to incorporate also something related with going out, at least a couple of times during the week). You will see how much your perception of things around you will change.

Right now I’m on holidays in Bieszczady Mountains again – I wrote about my first trip here in the post. This time I make it a point to enjoy the climate and nature in a greater extent. I took photographs of various flowers (as you probably noticed on Instagram and in this post) and both Floret and I want to explore new routes in the mountains.

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3. Try out slow-food.

In this world ruled by globalization access to food in developed countries is extremely easy. I can get food in 5 minutes, either by going out and getting it from shops/restaurants and my mom’s house or by ordering anything I like with UBEReats or any other application. This ease is quite frankly exhausting at some point. Not only do I have weight problems, I also more and more often get a case of troubled stomach from highly processed food.

The word “Slow” in slow living is an acronym which according to the most reliable source of information (sense the sarcasm here) Wikipedia stands for: sustainable, local, organic and whole – as in not processed. The same source also stands that the movement was set-up by an Italian man Carlo Petrini who protested vigorously against opening McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome. Although I love to devour a Big Mac sometimes, I have to agree with Mr. Carlo. Such places, in this case the most famous square in Italy, should be filled with Italian spots, not something you can eat on a gas station everywhere in Europe.

If you want to join in the movement and eat in a Slow Living style I advise you cook everything yourself. Not only will it do wonders to your figure, it will most probably save you a lot of money. When I cook I tend to choose simpler dishes with less ingredients. I look up recipes on various sites (My favourite blog is the one named Kwestia Smaku, but unfortunately the author only publishes in Polish) and simply follow. I have learned many recipes I’ve never done before, which are not only quite uncomplicated (like spaghetti alio olio, penne arrabiata, chicken in carrot sauce, and so forth) but also delicious. Trying out slow cooking also made me eat a lot less meat – a tip to become a vegetarian soon.

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I know icecream is not really a superfood, but these crafter icecream of the orange cheesecake taste were just too delicious not to mention.

4. Know your value and keep your stand.

I can’t stress this point too strongly really. I have so many girlfriends who just don’t believe in themselves one bit. Because of self-doubt they are constantly insecure and full of unexplainable fears that cause them to get wild sometimes. Seriously, if I got a penny each time I had to convince my friends not to immediately dump their boyfriends or call their “sworn enemies” and call them out I would be a very rich woman. A very rich woman.

I sometimes have moments of self-doubt myself. Even today, in the morning I felt so unattractive, fat and… I don’t know, simply miserable, that the entire day seemed like a nightmare. Fortunately, I have Floret who reminds me sometimes, that there is so much to look for each day.

What I learned in life is that you are unique. There is absolutely no other person just like you and you should always be proud of who you are and strive to be better each day.

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5. Don’t ever let anyone bring you down. Keep your attitude positive.

You don’t have to (and most probably never will) be friends with everyone. There are always going to be people who despise you even if you’re another Virgin Mary. That’s just how life works and the faster you realize that the happier you will get.

If anyone around you keeps trying to bring you down… well, let’s just say the point I made above about getting rid of these people from your life is valid. What I am going to say now might seem harsh, but the above applies even to family members for me. If someone, whoever it is, brings you down – they don’t deserve to stay in your life.

About the second sentence of the title of this chapter: I think staying positive is a key to success in life. Even after the worst day sun comes up again. Always strive to see the bright side in things and never give up.

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And what are your thoughts on slow life? Have you ever tried the trend? Let me know in the comments.

Dorota

How to stop being broke?

If you’re suffering from lack of money and are wondering why is it that some people always seem to have cash and you’re constantly broke, I think I might have a hint for you – you’re shopping inefficiently!

Please don’t tell me now other people have cash because they earn more. That is a misconception that grew into stereotype, when in reality the difference is: they’re frugal and you’re not. First example: me. I earn quite a lot of money for my age, but at the end of the month I struggle to be able to afford basic domestics. On the other hand, one of my best friends is an aspiring artist who seems to always have cash even though she earns a third of what I do. Since I noticed this phenomenon I became more aware of what I buy and how I manage my money. I hope this post is going to give you some ideas that might help you take care of your budget.

Disclaimer:

i suck at saving money

I really do suck at saving, I don’t think I ever had real savings my entire life. The following tips come from my personal experience, but I have yet to establish how to use them in a long run. Any tips?

  1. Buy only what you really need.

This goes for food, clothes, appliances, electronics and home decor – although if you really want to save money you don’t need anything else than food. Each time you think you need to buy something, immediately drink a glass of water, sit down and simply don’t do it. If you lived for a year without a dishwasher, and you struggle with cash, probably you don’t need the dishwasher that much. If your closet is full of clothes don’t buy another white t-shirt or jeans, rather keep your money for a time, when you’d be needing something important.

In case of food, I heard from various sources how you need a list of groceries to be sure you only buy necessities. That is true, I don’t usually go to the supermarket without a list either, but what you need to keep in mind is that even though you have one, you might still buy a lot of unnecessary items. Example: today I made a list of things I should buy for another three days. I folded it and put it in my purse, but just before I left I went to grab some water from the fridge and realised I listed a lot of things I already had! Hence, whenever you decide to go shopping look through your cupboards, fridge and refrigerator to learn what you really have there and maybe during that routine you might invent dishes that don’t need additional shopping – my favourite: spaghetti alio olio.

Another frugal thing I learned recently is to eat less meat. Meat is expensive – it deteriorates fast and you need to spend a lot of time to prepare it, plus you might feel bloated and tired from excess in your diet – shop smarter and more consciously.

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2. Find additional sources of income.

The best tip to not be broke is to earn more and from various sources. I work full-time for a company in Warsaw, but I also cooperate with other companies just to have additional source of income. If you can’t get another job, think about contacting your supervisor about a raise, or some additional benefits. Another way to do it is to get rid of the things you don’t need anymore, but other people may perceive useful – sell those off e-bay and save the money for later.

3. Look for small saving opportunities.

Don’t spend money on useless crap is more approriate for a title here, but it corresponds too much with point number one, so let me stay with the “look for small saving opportunities”. Generally, don’t spend money on… plastic bags – take some from home, gym membership cards if you’re too lazy to ever practice, paid applications on your iPad or phone – cause you don’t need any of it, even if you think you do, magazines and newspapers – use the Internet instead. Don’t buy bottled water if you have the same one or better in your tap, don’t buy fancy notebooks, pens etc. if you have a lot of them lying around your house. Don’t buy flowers, eat at restaurants, drink at pubs… generally live like a freaking monk for a while, but trust me, you will be rewarded. And, oh boy, it will be worth it!

4. Because the whole reason for saving up is to be able to spend it later on something totally worth it!

Keep your goal in mind and work towards it! If it’s a trip, renting a dream car (looking at you Floret), expensive camera or even paying up your debts. Work hard for it and you’ll finally achieve all your goals! Living life frugaly has to have a purpose, and collecting money is a crappy one, trust me. Money does not bring happiness, unless it’s a mean to achieve what you want. So buckle up on your adventure to whatever it is you need to save money for.

Btw. If anyone of you will tell me you don’t need to save money because you don’t have any debts, but in the same time you have mortgage on your house, credit or your balance on the credit card is not 0, than you are an idiot and you should save money cause you’re drowning in debt! If you are not in debt, you don’t owe money to ANYONE! Simple as that.

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Dorota