What does it mean to be healthy

Ciao, welcome back to my blog!

As I turned 30 I started to be more careful with my habits and to be more aware of my everyday choices because I know that I will feel better now and I will be grateful to myself in the future.

Below I am listing everything I do regularly to make sure to have a healthy lifestyle.

- Working out at least 3 times a week and stretching every day:

Physical activity is not just for aesthetic reasons, it's important to improve my strength and to be more agile. Regular exercise helps with my posture and gut health. I love the quote that says: "exercise is the most potent and under-utilised antidepressant".

It is a crucial wellness tool for your mental and psychological health as it really improves relaxation.

It doesn't really matter for how long or the kind of activity I choose to do: what matters is consistency. Even a simple walk in the park can be ok, the most important thing is to move your body and do it every week to improve your overall health.

The ancient Latins were very wise people and one of their most popular mottoes was:

"Mens sana in corpore sano", which basically means (having) "a healthy mind in a healthy body".

Stretching is often skipped by the vast majority of people, however, it is crucial for our joint health, especially for those who are sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day.

-Homemade food:

I know from experience that living in London can be stressful and it is hard to find the time to cook your meals instead of buying pre-made food, but I swear: it is totally worth it.

Cooking has not always been a passion of mine. In my 20s I absolutely hated it.

I saw it as something sexist society forced women to do to be confined in the kitchen instead of pursuing their career dreams.

After I moved on my own, I quickly realised that homemade food helped me save loads of money, but also it tastes so much better than grab and go food from the supermarket! It also helps you to relax your mind after a tiring day and it became a lovely shared hobby to do with my boyfriend on our days off.

I learned to appreciate it and the more I cooked the best the results and the more it grew on me.

I started with basic, familiar recipes that I learned at home watching my father or my grandmothers.

I then consulted a few blogs with easy tutorials and invested in a couple of good cookbooks, until I gained enough confidence and manual experience to develop my own recipes.

I now love to be adventurous with new ingredients from different cultures and try to replicate dishes from other countries. I enriched my knowledge and achieved a fusion food culture thanks to the amazing dishes I have been tasting in London as well as embracing my partner's Romanian cuisine.

That's what I do to make sure of having always healthy food available:

I plan my shopping by making a list of my weekly meals and I stick to it.

Having already decided what to eat is a great help and it makes my life easier.

Daily, when I come back home from work, I immediately think about sorting dinner and our next-day lunch by preparing a portion of food for four instead of two.

When I can't do it, I would just prepare a quick but rich salad.

Of course, I still enjoy a dinner out or the occasional junk food meal, but it is not a habit.

-Eating seasonally and buy organic fruits and vegetables:

It is not just a trend: organic food tastes much better.

Maybe for me, it is easier to see the striking difference between organic and supermarket food because I grew up on a farm where I always had the chance to enjoy fresh organic fruit and vegetables harvested by my family.

When I first moved to London I was shocked about the poor quality of the food sold in the supermarkets. I remember an anecdote of my first week in Balham. I made a salad for lunch with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, bell peppers and I closed my eyes while I was eating: I could not find any difference in the taste or consistency between the ingredients. It all tasted like cold, dirty water.

The best way to get access to organic food is to explore your local farmers market and small corner stores. Eating locally is also supporting small businesses and reducing pollution.

I don't shop anymore in Tesco or the big chains as they are pricey and the quality of the food is terrible.

I recently found a rare pearl where I live: it is Bill Hall fruiterer and greengrocer near Victoria Park (Hackney, East London).

He sells local produce and amazing seasonal food.

The fresh organic tomatoes I have been buying the whole summer were amazing and they were just 3.99 per kilo! They were almost as good as my grandma's!

Another very good place to shop if you don't have time is to place online order to Riverford organic farmers ( www.riverford.co.uk ).

You can choose between a wide range of organic products and building your own box that will be delivered at your address or where you work when it's more convenient for you. It is a bit more expensive but I truly believe that what is going to fuel your body should be the best possible quality.

Alternatively, rescue misshaped but delicious fresh fruit and veggies with the Odd box.

If on a budget there is also the option of buying only the products that are most commonly high in pesticides.

While browsing online, I found that every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a consumer's guide, which is a list of the "Dirty Dozen," or the fruits and vegetables the nonprofit claims have the highest amount of pesticides when grown conventionally versus organically. Basically is a very clever list of items to know what's worth buying organic or not:

I also prefer to buy seasonal fruit and vegetables: it costs less, it is more eco-friendly for the environment and again, it tastes much better.

I am not vegan or vegetarian, but I am making efforts to reduce my meat and dairy intake and when I feel like having some, I prefer buying from my local organic butcher and fishmonger.

I recently swapped whole cow milk with homemade oat or store-bought coconut milk. The main reason is that unfortunately in my family there are many cases of cancer.

According to doctors, the best way to avoid triggering the hereditarily of the disease is to eat less meat and dairy and all processed/canned and refined food. I am not super strict with this rule and I don't want to sacrifice all the pleasures of life, so I still enjoy a slice of cake or a steak + fries meal if I fancy them, but I am now aware that food can be both poison and medicine.

Moderation is key!

I have always been a sweet tooth since childhood but I try to restrain myself from high sugary snacks and sweets daily.

Keeping my body well hydrated is my main goal as I often forget to drink during the day when busy at work and I sometimes experience symptoms of dehydration such as headache and dry skin.

Find out my healthy french toast recipe here

I invested in a reusable metal bottle and I try to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Fizzy drinks are not tempting for me because they cause bloating, hence I prefer herbal tea or coffee, however, I would drink no more than 2 coffees per day, otherwise, it will affect my sleep.

I only drink alcohol occasionally and always when I am having a full meal.

I enjoy going to the pub now and then, but I don't drink more than two glasses of wine or beer, and I don't do liquors/spirits.

Since I moved to London, I noticed that English people have concerning drinking habits. I often heard friends and colleagues boasting about drinking a whole bottle of vodka or having a record of 12 pints of beer per evening during the weekend.

I avoid commenting because I don't want to seem petty or rude but what I really think is: how sad that people have to drink that much to have fun, especially women.

Bill Hall- 205 Victoria Park Rd, London E9 7JN

-Tidy and clean environment:

Being an adult means also that you should be able to keep your body and your house clean. Admittedly, sometimes it is a real struggle, but it is so satisfying when you manage to achieve a routine when you can actually enjoy yourself and be in a nice environment.

As a general rule, I clean as I go every day to avoid spending a whole weekend day tidying up.

I feel anxious around clutter/dirt and I just can't relax when my flat is not as I would like it to be. To get cosy and improve the quality of air, I also like to have plants and I recently invested in a good essential oil diffuser.

I still own a few scented candles as I really like the atmosphere they create, especially in winter but their smoke is not healthy.

-Spare time and productive hobbies:

Free time is gold when you have a full-time job.

My days off seem to fly away in seconds. That's why I am trying to make healthy choices with how I spend my time too.

Last year in September my boyfriend and I decided to start a challenge to read a few pages of a book every evening before sleeping. We were spending too much time scrolling on social media or video games and we suspected that this was affecting our ability to relax and recover after work and ultimately, the quality of our sleep.

We decided we would spend from 30 to 45 minutes per evening on social media or video games but after that our devices had to be turned off.

Same thing with Netflix.

It is ok to watch a movie per week or a short episode of a series per evening but after that, it's time to read. It has been a big change but so far we have always been loyal to our books and we ended up reading more than a book per month. It also helped us to reduce snacking after dinner.

I have to admit that I am always looking forward to our bedtime reading together now, as it is such a nice and relaxing activity that brings us closer as a couple and that often leads to interesting conversations,

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Would you like to know more about my idea of self-care?

Check this article:

What self-care really means