KITK’s Guide To Living A Healthier, Happier & Better 2018 Than Ever!

KITK’s Guide To Living A Healthier, Happier & Better 2018 Than Ever!

Hey loves! 

<3

A few days late, I know. BUT IT’S FINALLY HERE! This post took me a bit longer than expected to put together because I didn’t realize just how much I had learned & how much I had to say!

Now, without further ado, I present you with:

KITK’S GUIDE TO LIVING A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER & BETTER 2018 THAN EVER, you ready for ‘dis?

For some of us, 2017 brought sorrow. For others, it brought joy. For some, it brought pain, laughter, success, lessons learned, stories shared, new friends, old friends; for others, fresh relationships, accomplishments, illness – a year, 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, is filled with many events, emotions & things, some tangible, some not. Some moments, we wish to be a part of & hold on to forever; others, we want to forget. But through it all, we PUSHED ahead. We LIVED our daily lives & we MADE IT to today. Today, 3 days into January 2018, no matter what this past year brought you, good, bad, ugly, amazing, beautiful, hurtful, I want to share with you some of the things that I learned throughout my life & especially, in 2017, that I think will help you step into 2018 on the right foot & ultimately, live a healthier, happier & better life moving forward!

These are not resolutions. They’re not goals. They’re simply ASPIRATIONS & AMBITIONS for a long-term PERMANENT shift in your LIFESTYLE. These are not things I’m telling you to implement overnight, nor do I believe that it’s physically, mentally or emotionally possible to do so. These are things I want you to try to live by for the next 363 days of 2018. Choose your top 3, top 5 or strive to incorporate them all into your life. Do what works for you. Don’t set each one of these lessons or tips as a short-term goal, that may or may not set you up for failure or disappointment. Broaden your scope. See the bigger picture. 2018 can be the year that you CHANGE YOUR LIFE, not just to say you did & then let go, but permanently!

No matter how much of a rut you are in, I want you to know that it’s NEVER too late or too early, to be whatever you want to be. There is no time limit. You can start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing called life – you can make the best or the worst of it; you can strive for more or settle for less. Make the best of it. Take matters into your own hands. Let yourself feel things you’ve never felt. Meet people who will better you & uplift you. Build & work on a life that you can be proud of. When things go wrong, build the strength & courage to lift yourself back up. Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams. Step into 2018 with POSITIVITY, DREAMS, ASPIRATION, AMBITION, DESIRE, FIRE, LIGHT, BRILLIANCE, DESIRE, CHALLENGE & HEALTH. How so? Let me explain!

Get moving for at least 30 minutes everyday.

It doesn’t have to be an intense spin class or an hour long of strength training, all you have to do is get your blood & juices flowing! Most of us work full-time jobs or are studying, which inevitably means that we are sitting at a desk for the majority of the day, which ALSO means that we don’t get much activity in.

My whole life, I believed that exercise was important for one thing & one thing only: staying at a healthy weight. And don’t get me wrong, IT IS. But, now, after months of being super committed to it & using it not only to stay healthy but to find my mental stability & clarity, to disconnect from the struggles of everyday life & find ways to cope with them & to help increase my energy levels & boost my mood, I realize that getting my body moving is about SO MUCH MORE than just weight. Trust me when I say that it will change your life FOR THE BETTER. All this to say, try to find a way to incorporate some activity into your life a few times a week (based on your lifestyle & what it permits!). Consistency is key. View it as a journey, not  a destination. Listen to your body. Take rest days when you have to. Motivate yourself but don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Know them & listen to your inner wisdom. Trust it. Better to rest than to injure.

If you’re not the spinning type or if your body doesn’t permit you to do a workout that intense (for whatever reason, such as: illness, injury, etc.), try a HITT workout. Not into HITT? Lift. Not into lifting? No problem! Do some other type of cardio. Not into cardio either? Go for a walk. Not into walking or don’t have the courage to step outside in -40 temperatures (Me neither)? Do hot yoga or Pilates. No matter what your restrictions or preferences are, there is always a way to incorporate movement into your life. No excuses. Do it.

Find ways to cope with & manage your stress.

Stress management is a huge aspect of living a healthy life. For a long time, I overlooked this aspect of my life because I really believe diet & exercise were the most important things when it came to overall health & wellness. But, during the height of my eating disorder, my body failed me, despite my best efforts. I knew I had to try something new & find a way not only to recover from my ED, but also to face the stress & anxiety that it was causing & to find ways to cope with it & reduce my external & internal stress.

BTW, did you guys know that stress is one of the number one causes of an unhealthy gut? So while you think your stress is only affecting you mentally, THINK AGAIN. Your stress levels are having a way larger impact on your life & your overall state of physical & mental health than you know. Worry not, there are ways to cope with it & reverse it – the damage is not permanent, but it will require effort & commitment on your part. If you’re at a point in your life where you are not putting stress management at the forefront of your journey towards living a healthier lifestyle, MAKE A SWITCH.

Whether it be related to work, family, school, relationships, body image, expectations, standards, etc., TAKE CONTROL. Stress can be the one thing that is actually stopping you from attaining many of your other aspirations or ambitions, such as: maintaining a healthy weight, coping with anxiety/insomnia/depression/fatigue & other symptoms of depression or mood disorders, maintaining healthy relationships & friendships, proper time management etc. Stress is at the CORE of all of these things. And I promise you that when you learn to understand what triggers & causes the most of your stress and you find ways to cope with it, EVERYTHING in your life will turn around.

Don’t let your weaknesses define you. Focus on your strengths.

You’re human. I’m human. We both have weaknesses & strengths; in fact, that’s what makes us human. Nobody is perfect & nobody is superhuman, whether they make it seem that way or not. It’s human nature to be focused on our weaknesses as opposed to valuing our strengths; unfortunately, we live in a world where we’ve been taught to put ourselves down & to NEVER be content with what we have or with who we are. Fight that. Acknowledge your weaknesses & find ways to turn them into strengths.

If your weakness is sugar, find a way to eat it in a healthier way by opting for healthier sugar substitutes. You can have your sugar & eat it (healthy) too. If your weakness is public speaking but you so badly want to speak your mind & raise awareness about a topic that rings close to home, start a blog – talk about it, spread your message but so do in a way that makes you feel comfortable. OR FACE YOUR WEAKNESSES & OVERCOME THEM. And if you just can’t seem to beat your weakness & it gets you every time, so be it. It doesn’t define you. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you who you are.

If you have weaknesses, odds are you also have strengths. PUT THOSE AT THE FOREFRONT. Make those your core. Focus on them & cherish them. Use them to your advantage. Channel them into something positive. Use them to inspire others. Use them to give others hope. In life, there will ALWAYS be two opposite ends of the spectrum – the beauty in life is to find your balance & to get to a place where you feel content being somewhere IN THE MIDDLE: not completely imperfect but not superhuman perfect either. DEFINE YOUR PERFECT, whatever your perfect is, but know that REAL PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST. In fact, it isn’t real. Nobody’s perfect. Don’t believe everything you see or hear & don’t let what others put out there skew your perspective. And always remember: they don’t say “you never know what happens behind closed doors” for nothing.

Speak up & accept the help being offered to you.

If you’re hurting, suffering, feeling lost, confused or if you’re afraid you may be dealing with something you just can’t seem to take into your own hands, tame or control on your own, for example: an eating disorder, a mental health issue, addiction, etc., PLEASE SPEAK UP. Reach out to those who love, care for & support you. Odds are, if you’re hurting, or feeling uneasy & if you feel or see it, they see it too. A lot of the time, they simply don’t know how to reach out to you in a way that will make you feel comfortable & that won’t make you lash out. Take it from someone who dealt with this first-hand, it’s NOT EASY to confront someone about a mental health issue, let alone if that person hasn’t yet come to terms with the fact that it’s there & it’s real.

For so long, I refused to speak up. I knew I was suffering. Everyone around me knew I was suffering. Both my physical & mental health were degrading before everyone’s eyes, yet I refused to admit it or come to terms with it. Throughout my life, people always referred to me as strong-willed, motivated, determined & independent. You can imagine that, in my eyes, facing the truth that I had developed a very severe eating disorder, went against all those things. It made me weak, vulnerable, needy & meant I couldn’t handle or cope with it on my own. And so, instead of facing my truth, I kept harming myself. I was dying in every possible way but I refused to come to terms with it. My family reached out more times than I can count but I continuously refused.

Until one day I realized that accepting help & finally seeking therapy to recover from my eating disorder made me stronger, more motivated & determined than I ever was because it meant I was able to accept that I was human & that I was ill. Acceptance is one of the hardest things a human being must learn. Some equate acceptance with giving up, others with coming to terms with a situation they can’t control, but whether it’s about giving up or finding closure, acceptance is a crucial part of life & of facing our truths & realities. It signifies strength because it means that you reach a point in your life where you’re comfortable with knowing that not everything will always go as planned; life is a rollercoaster – sometimes, it flashes right before your eyes, sometimes, it throws curveballs at you that you never expected & sometimes, it gives you the most amazing ride of your life. What makes you strong as a human being is the ability to embrace the scary, the unexpected & the amazing & to face it. All this to say, if you are suffering, embrace & cherish the fact that there are people who love & care about you enough to WANT to help you get better, recover, heal & regain your life. ACCEPT their love & support; you’ll be forever thankful, I promise.

Trust yourself & go with your gut.

Stop second guessing yourself. Do you know how many times in my life I made decisions based on how I thought others would react? TONS. Do you know how many times I retrospectively regretted doing that? TONS. I made those decisions or behaved in ways ways because I sought others’ approval as opposed to seeking MY OWN approval & trusting myself.

When I finally realized I was acting & reacting for others (& not for myself) & learned to let go of the anticipation of what others thought, I finally found confidence & reassurance in my decisions, not by seeking that confidence or reassurance from others, but rather from going with my gut & trusting my OWN instincts. At the end of the day, the decisions you make, the way you react to situations & the behaviours you engage in are UP TO YOU. These decisions, reactions & behaviours should be the by-product of the way YOU are feeling & not how others will feel in response to them.

At the end of the day, this all boils down to being authentic. Trust that your body, mind, heart & soul knows & wants what is best for you & in turn, will trigger the reactions, behaviours & choices that go in the same vein. There’s no reason to seek what’s best for you from others when the simplest way to seek it is within your reach 24/7, 365 days a year – SEEK IT FROM YOURSELF. Are you happy with the decision you made to pursue your career as a personal trainer? To end your relationship because it was no longer making you happy? To go vegan? To fight for what you believe in even if it’s the road less traveled? Good. Does your best friend approve of it? Maybe not. Do you care? No. So long as you find comfort & happiness in the way you choose to lead & live your life, you will be comfortable, happy & most importantly, REAL with yourself & in turn, with all those around you. There’s a reason first instincts / gut instincts exist – they are your body, mind & heart’s first reaction to a situation – trust them, they know what’s best for you.

Drink more water.

This one’s easier than a lot of the other ones I mentioned because it hardly requires any mind work or mental effort (Ok, fine, maybe a bit of memory, but that’s it!). Most people that I talk to about their health & nutrition tell me that they don’t go a few days or a week without feeling bloated, puffy or getting headaches. What if I told you that simply drinking more of the simplest & most accessible beverage on the planet could help with all of those things & more? Would you make an effort to do it? I think so, no?

A common misconception is that drinking too much water makes you bloated. Obviously, everything in moderation. I’m not here telling you to drink 15L of water per day. But, staying hydrated means that EVERYTHING moves & flows easier through our bodily systems. Moreover, if you aren’t drinking enough water, your body activates its fight or flight system & holds on to whatever water is already in your body (as opposed to excreting it through urine). This means that the water in your body will be used for normal bodily functions & will cause you to appear & feel bloated. The only way to get rid of that bloat & puffiness? DRINK MORE WATER!

As for headaches, the body requires proper balance of fluid & electrolytes in order to function properly. Everyday, the body loses water through daily activities as simple as sweating & urinating. Most of the time, the amount of fluid lost is easily balanced through drinking or eating foods rich in fluids (such as fruits & veggies). BUT, when the body loses water faster than it can be replenished, the body can become dehydrated, which can lead to dehydration headaches (they can be mild but they can also be as severe as a migraine!). What happens scientifically is that when the body is dehydrated, the brain temporarily contracts or shrinks from fluid loss, which causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing pain & leading to the headache. Once rehydrated, the brain plumps up & returns to its normal state.

ALL THIS TO SAY, staying hydrated is so important AT ALL TIMES, whether you’re the most active person on the planet or not, whether you’re sitting at a desk all day or out & about. And it’s SO EASY to do, so why skimp on it? Get yourself a Swell bottle, or any bottle that’s easy to transport around with you in your purse/briefcase (or just carry around a water bottle that you can refill throughout the day). Keep it on your desk, in your bag, your car, or wherever you are & trust me, YOU WILL DRINK IT SIMPLY BECAUSE IT’S THERE (kind of like when there’s food sitting in front of you & you just eat it because it’s there, ya know?).

Commit to making one healthy lifestyle change regarding your nutrition on a weekly or monthly basis.

You can tell me it works until you’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t. That whole “I’m starting to eat 100% clean, organic, green, healthy & raw tomorrow” thing is simply TOO overwhelming not only physically, but also mentally (even for the most motivated person in the world!). Yes, it’s probably a good idea, but no, you can’t accomplish it overnight. And trust me, I know, you want to see results instantly – it’s human nature to crave immediacy & instant gratification. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t always come easy. It takes hard work, commitment & a newfound love for this different way of life. That’s why I believe that instead of tackling a complete 360 shift overnight (especially if you’ve been adhering to nutrition habits on the complete opposite end of the spectrum for months or years), take it slow & ease into it. Like anything in life, I strongly believe that permanent & real lifestyle changes are only achieved with baby steps.

If you’re used to a diet comprised of processed & packaged foods, refined white grains & fatty meats & you suddenly make the shift to eating only greens, fruits, veggies, minimally processed foods, whole grain or sprouted grains & lean meats, not only will you shock your mind but you’ll also shock your body. Reality is you’ll still crave all the foods you were used to & while it may be easier to say no to the cravings in the first few days of committing to this shift, eventually, you’ll crave those foods so badly that you’ll give up on your healthy shift entirely. I mean, who really wants to engage in something that makes them feel deprived & unhappy, right?

Instead of jumping right into it full circle (or cold turkey, whatever you wanna call it), take it upon yourself to make one switch a week or a month (whatever works for you!). The changes could be anything from: eliminate soft drinks, refined sugars &/or hydrogenated oils, make a conscious effort to eat intuitively (eat when you’re hungry & stop when you’re not), make sure to snack throughout the day to avoid feeling starved at meal times, don’t eat just to eat – eat for fuel & benefits, understand & know why you are eating certain foods & what benefits they provide you with, incorporate probiotic-rich & gut-healing foods into your diet, start taking collagen, incorporate superfood powders into your smoothies, go for plant-based milks as opposed to dairy milks for healthier fats, more vitamins & nutrients & protein, drink more water, give in to your cravings (in moderation) instead of depriving yourself, make sure you’re getting enough carbs to fuel your body withe energy (especially if you’re working out daily), have greens with every meal, incorporate more healthy fats, change your oils & make sure not to cook them beyond their smoke points, drink less alcohol, switch from refined white grains to sprouted or whole grains, bake your own healthy cookies or muffins as opposed to eating the packaged ones, use Greek yogurt instead of mayo, etc. These are just a few examples of small changes that you can make that when combined will ultimately lead to you leading an overall healthier lifestyle & diet! At a certain point, you’ll realize that because you incorporated these changes slowly, they were able to become a part of your routine & you learned to love them. Eventually, you’ll get so used to them that you won’t even look back or miss your old eating habits.

Don’t live with regrets. Acknowledge how past experiences shaped you, helped you grow or develop a sense of self you didn’t have, but don’t dwell on them.

Guys, not every decision you make is something you’ll be proud of or approve of in retrospect or in hindsight. But, if you dwell on what would or could have been had you reacted, behaved or decided differently, you’ll stay stuck in the past & that will hinder your ability to enjoy the present & savour every moment. Life is too short & too precious to dwell on the things we cannot change & the things that have passed us by. The past is the past & you can’t change it. You can learn from it. Grow from it. Change because of it. Get stronger & develop a sense of self that you didn’t know you had until it happened. You can take something positive from it & use it to better your life. BUT IF YOU REGRET IT, none of that can happen.

Do I regret my eating disorder? No. Do I regret that I didn’t grieve my mom’s death until years later? No. Do I regret that my marriage ended? No. Do I regret that I worked my butt off in university & bar school to succeed & become a lawyer? No. While some of these things may have had a negative impact on my life or may have impacted me in one way or another, I don’t regret any of them because every single one of those things had to happen for me to get to where I am today.

I don’t regret my ED because I didn’t choose it. I don’t regret it because it allowed me to get healthier, stronger & more educated than I’ve ever been. It taught me to appreciate life, to value every moment because life & health is the most precious gift one could ever have. It allowed me to start my blog, to develop friendships & relationships with all of you & to spread awareness about eating disorders & mental health. It taught me that life won’t always be perfect & that that’s okay.

I don’t regret not grieving my mom’s death until years later because it’s never too late to grieve. I don’t regret it because even though I was dying inside, I stayed strong for my family & helped them keep it together. I don’t regret it because years later, I GRIEVED HER PROPERLY. I came to terms with the fact that she was no longer with me but I reflected & held on to all the beautiful life lessons she taught me & all the ways in which she contributed to shaping me into the woman I am today.

I don’t regret that my marriage ended because I now know that it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t regret it because it helped me understand what I truly seek & want from a relationship in the future. I don’t regret it because it taught me the difference between loving without boundaries, unconditionally & in sickness & in health & loving with condition & only in good times. It taught me the real meaning of BEING THERE for someone. I don’t regret it because I’m happier now than I was before. I don’t regret it because it made me stronger & taught me that even if stigma surrounding divorce exists, I’m strong enough to fight it & to hope that one day I’ll meet the love of my life.

I don’t regret committing to my education as hard & intensely as I did because it taught me the value of hard work, dedication, motivation, time management & striving for success. I don’t regret it because in retrospect, I now know the difference & found the balance between overworking myself & self-neglect & prioritizing myself & engaging in self-care. I don’t regret it because whether I practice law for the rest of my life or not, I have a law degree, I’m a lawyer & I worked hard to get there & fought for my success without letting the competitiveness of the legal environment get to my head.

All this to say, instead of living with regrets about the challenges, setbacks or obstacles I faced throughout my life, I ask myself how every single one of those experiences contributed to paving the road towards where I am today & that makes it all worthwhile. When you look back on your year, I want you to be proud of yourself for everything you overcame & experienced. I want you to pat yourself on the shoulder for all your accomplishments. I want you to shift your focus away from what you could’ve or should’ve done & instead, leave the “what ifs” & “could haves” in the past. Focus on the present & the future – WHAT IS & WHAT WILL BE.

Shift your mindset. Let go of the negative self-talk, body-shaming & stop putting yourself down & comparing yourself to others.

We all do it. But it’s wrong. Nowadays, we live in a society where we have been taught that we must constantly compare ourselves to others in order to determine, create & impose standards (sometimes, unrealistic ones) upon ourselves for the way we should look. Why do we do this when we know that ultimate happiness is achieved only once we are happy in OUR skin, in OUR uniqueness & in OUR individuality? Because it’s all we know. 

What if you took it upon yourself to wake up everyday in 2018 & remind yourself of one thing you love about YOU that has nothing to do with your appearance? But rather that has everything to do with the kindness of your heart & the beauty in your soul? Guys, 2018 is the year to be KIND to YOURSELF. Yes, it’s so important to be kind to others & to be mindful of their feelings. But, there’s also so much importance in being kind to YOURSELF. Ultimately, in being kind to yourself, you will further reinforce your ability to be kind to others. It’s a domino effect: be kind to yourself, love yourself, spread that kindness & that love & you will radiate & attract it in everything that you say & do. Putting yourself down plays on your mind. It destroys you internally & in turn, externally in terms of the energy you give out & radiate. Instead of comparing ourselves to other women in a workout class or in general, why don’t we instead walk into a workout or wherever with a positive mindset & commend ourselves for our strength, our motivation, our determination? Why don’t we acknowledge how much stronger we’ve become since we started? Why can’t we for ONE SECOND acknowledge the things that we feel good about ourselves for instead of putting ourselves down? And in acknowledging those things, why can’t we acknowledge how motivated, determined & strong we are WITHOUT comparing ourselves to the person next to us

If you constantly nitpick everything you don’t like about yourself, you will not feel good about yourself. No matter how “thin”, “big”, “small”, “tall”, “short” you are. We are all human & we are all our own worst critic. There are a million things we don’t love about ourselves or that we’d like to change, whether it has to with our appearance, personality or the fact that certain things make us anxious or stressed. But why do we focus on those things? Why can’t we instead focus on the things that we love about ourselves

The reason we can’t do this is because society has taught us to always compare & to impose unrealistic standards on ourselves that puts pressure not only on our bodies but also on our minds. We also live in a society that is SO focused on appearance that we’ve reached a point where we fail to recognize that a person’s worth is not based on how they look but rather on the goodness of their heart. Shift your focus & perspective and instead, look at yourself in the mirror & acknowledge how good of a person you are, how big your heart is, how you did something for someone without expecting anything in return, how much you love your smile or your eyes, how much you appreciate that you are such a loving & generous person, how you are proud of yourself for contributing to someone else’s life or making someone’s day better.

You are AMAZING in your own worth. In our own way. When you walk into a room, whether it be at the gym or elsewhere, know that every person in the room is going through a struggle you know nothing about. We all struggle with our bodies. It’s human & it’s normal. The real problem lies in the fact that we let that struggle control our lives & minds. It’s so easy to walk into a room & to look at everyone else & pass judgment about yourself, but what if you looked around the room & acknowledge how different & unique every person is & that that’s what makes life so beautiful? What if you acknowledge that you are unique in your way, that EVERYONE is going through something & being in competition serves no purpose at all.

You are the only person that can change your mindset & the way that you view your body. If you fuel your mind with negative thoughts about how much you hate your thighs, stomach, arms or face, or whatever it is, on a regular basis, you will begin to think those things & you will teach YOURSELF to hate YOURSELF.

And I know, it’s hard. Some days, it isn’t easy to look in the mirror. Although I am recovered, there are days where I look in the mirror & I want to crumble & cry. I don’t recognize myself because ED is trying to trickle her way back into my life. But, when those moments happen, I have two options: I can give in to those thoughts or fight them. It takes a lot of strength & mind work to fight them but I choose to do that every time because I know what the alternative entails. One thing’s for sure: fuelling your mind with negativity will lead to the development of negative self-worth. Why do that to yourself? Your body is here to sustain you. You should love it for all that it is.

The real answer to all those questions is that every woman has the power IN HER OWN HANDS to make that change. If we all made that change or strived for it, and started to value ourselves & who we are as people, for the goodness of our hearts & we all collectively lifted each other up to be better, do better & get better, the world would be a better place. And yes, we do have WAYS TO GO. We live in a  sad world & this is not something that will change overnight, but as women, we must come together, lift each other up, surround & encourage each other ON WHATEVER JOURNEY WE ARE ON. Every single person is on a journey. Every person has an ultimate goal, a mission, challenge & everyone is striving for or fighting for something: recovery, weight gain, weight loss, getting over or moving on from a breakup or a divorce. If we learn to see our worth in our strength, perseverance, determination & motivation as opposed to seeing it in our appearance, comparison & vanity, we would all be so much happier in our own skin.

Self-confidence & worth is one of the most important things in the world. It’s everything. The way you view yourself translate & radiates in everything that you do. If I asked you if you wanted to radiate positivity or negativity, today & always, I’m sure you would say positivity. But if you view yourself negatively, you will NOT radiate that positivity. It all boils down to loving yourself first before you can properly love anybody else. You cannot properly & healthily give yourself to people, friends, relationships, family members, if you are not happy with yourself & in your skin. This is why it’s crucial to work on that aspect of yourself, talk to yourself, go through the stage of developing a relationship with yourself & connecting with your inner being. It’s only once that relationship is healed, healthy & at a place where you & your SELF are on the same page, that you will truly be able to say that you love yourself more than anything in the world & you will radiate positivity & be able to give of yourself fully to someone else.

Guys, this shift in mindset is in YOUR HANDS. YOU have the CONTROL to determine how you will view yourself & nobody can change that for you. The only way we can all contribute to each other’s well-being & development of self-worth is by working harder to change the perception that society has ingrained in us. This is not a change or shift in mentality that happens overnight, but if each & every one of us does our part, if we each work a little bit harder to think of JUST ONE THING we love about ourselves that has NOTHING to do with appearance, this is a first step. Think about something you value about yourself, something others appreciate about you, how giving you are, how big your heart is & pat yourself on the back when you recognize & acknowledge these things because THEY MAKE YOU WHO YOU ARE & MAKE YOU UNIQUE. If you wake up every day & fuel your mind with just one positive thought, you will end up radiating positivity & love yourself for everything you are as a person, in a relationship, as a sister, brother, mom, dad, wife, husband, friend, cousin etc.

I challenge you all to wake up everyday for the next week & think of just one thing you love about yourselves. And then smile. Smile because that one thing makes you unique, makes you who you are & gives you individuality. If we didn’t have that, the world would be a boring place. If we all fit the stupid mould that society has ingrained in us, if we were all prim & paper & perfect, there would be nothing left to strive for or to do better for. Value & love yourself for all that you are. Take your body image into your own hands. Don’t let anyone or anything control it or determine how you view yourself because ultimately, the only person who will end up suffering if you have negative self-worth is YOU & in turn, everyone else around you.

Wake up earlier.

I don’t know about you guys but there’s nothing I hate more than feeling rushed, ESPECIALLY in the morning. How pleasant would it be if you could start your day with an hour or even just a half an hour to yourself, to read the news, browse the Internet, do a face mask, take a long bath,  do your skincare routine, make a complete breakfast, sip your coffee or tea, read a book, catch up with a friend or simply just RELAX before you actually have to get out of bed, shower, get ready &  head into the hustle & bustle of your day? REALLY DAMN PLEASANT, right? I know. And guess what? It’s so simple to JUST DO IT. Of course, the first few times are hard – we all know the feeling of NOT being able to get out of bed, but like anything, you gotta start somewhere.

BTW, scientifically, after a full night of sleep, it actually takes the human body about 2-3 hours to WAKE THE F UP & be able to function at its optimal level. Waking up earlier not only means that you’ll be able to do any or all of those things (OK, maybe not all of them), but it also means that you’ll actually be 100% awake & more focused, concentrated & ready to tackle the day than you would be if you woke up, took a 2 minute shower, did your makeup in the car, forgot breakfast & lunch & rushed over to work all within a span of 30 minutes.

I totally acknowledge that not everyone’s lifestyle or family situation allows for this. Some of us have jobs where we’re expected to show up at the crack of dawn, others work until the wee hours of the night & sleep during the day to refuel, some of us have kids, breakfasts & lunches to prepare in the morning & some of us simply have other responsibilities that make this morning “you time” hard to do. But, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to do it, try it. Tomorrow morning, set your alarm an hour or 1/2 an hour earlier than usual. When it rings, GET OUTTA BED (as hard as it is) & do whatever you would have LOVED to do yesterday, when instead of waking up, you were sound asleep & dreaming. See how you like it & then decide for yourself: is this something you value & want to do everyday, or a few times a week? Or can you do without the “you time” in the morning & find some time for yourself at night, after work or school? Everyone’s situation is different so you really have to gage it out for yourself.

For me, waking up early is something I value because I love being awake when the rest of the world is sleeping & it allows me to just chill, write, talk to you guys, prepare a recipe, make lists to get my day in order, do my skincare routine, etc. before I actually tackle my day. My days are usually pretty full & on the go, so it feels great to actually have that time in the morning to myself.

When you feel overwhelmed, make lists.

Lists. Lists. Lists. Where do I begin? They’re literally my saviours. Those of you who have been following me for a while now know that I keep a weekly agenda, but also that I make lists for basically EVERYTHING I have to do, whether it be groceries, shopping, blog posts, segments I want to do, questions I want to answer, etc. Keeping an agenda & staying on track with lists helps keep my life in order from a practical perspective, but more importantly, keeps me grounded, teaches me to manage my time in the most efficient way possible, helps me be more productive & in simple terms, makes me feel on top of my sh*t. And let’s be honest, we all like to feel organized, right? Nobody likes when their mind is racing in every possible direction & nobody likes not knowing where to start. The answer? List it up!

Don’t have an agenda? Get one. Not down to get one? No problem. Jot your lists down wherever is easiest for you: a napkin, LITERALLY, your phone/computer/iPad, a notepad, etc. The vehicle you use to do it doesn’t really matter – what matters is that you get your day in order so that you get sh*t done!

Be true to yourself & be authentic with others.

If you’re trying to be or become someone you’re not, STOP RIGHT NOW. We live in a world with billions of souls, each of which is different in their own unique way. If we were all the same, if we all strived to be the same type of person, the world would be a pretty damn boring place. Instead of striving to be like someone else, why don’t you shift that energy into loving yourself for all that YOU ARE, for everything that SHAPES YOU & makes you YOU? Is there really a purpose in trying to be someone you’re not & radiating that not only with yourself but with those around you, when ultimately your true self will eventually come to the surface? NO. You have no reason to aspire to be someone else – ASPIRE TO BE YOUR BEST YOU. Be authentic with yourself & with those around you. Don’t lie yourself through a job interview. A first date. A first encounter. In the end, the only one who will suffer is you because you’ll ultimately end up living a fake or double life & you’ll constantly live with the pressure of having to measure up to the mask you put on.

Those who love you & cherish you will love & cherish you for WHO YOU REALLY ARE. They’ll love you for all your strengths, weaknesses, faults, perks, bizarreness, uniqueness, wisdoms & quirks – those are the people you should strive to keep in your life. Those are the people who value you for who you are. As for those who expect you to change to fit a mould or to be or act like somebody else sadly don’t deserve a place in your life or in your heart. Don’t change for them. Cut the bullsh*t. Be you. Do you. Embrace you. There is no better feeling & no better time than NOW.

Let yourself feel.

This is something I struggled with MY ENTIRE LIFE & one of the things that ultimately led to the development & progression of my eating disorder. My whole life, I lived with the belief that letting myself feel & exposing my vulnerabilities made me weak. But, when I finally realized that I hadn’t properly grieved my mom’s death & that I was in denial about my eating disorder to the point where my health degraded & my life was flashing right before my eyes, I took matters into my own hands. I finally accepted that in order to properly grieve my mom & to regain my life and recover from my ED, I had to let all the emotions I was concealing & bottling up come to the surface & let myself feel. And so I did. I can’t tell you how liberating it was & still is today.

Today, when something makes me sad, I cry. When something makes me happy, I laugh until it hurts. When something makes me angry, frustrated or triggers anxiety, I face the anger, frustration & anxiety & I find ways to cope with it as opposed to bottling it up. I’ve learned that reality exists, NO MATTER WHAT. No matter how hard we try to pretend it doesn’t. No matter how much we avoid it. No matter how bad we don’t want it to exist. It’s there & it’s real. So LET’S FACE IT & LET’S FEEL IT. And in feeling it, let’s acknowledge the beauty in real, raw emotion & become stronger & find ways to DEAL WITH IT so that the feelings no longer phase, hurt, destroy or pain us. There is nothing wrong with feeling. Put it this way: after all, you are human & you were put on this earth with the ability to feel, why would you deprive yourself of it.

Be grateful for all that you are & all that you have & spread love & kindness.

Nowadays, we live in a world where it is far too easy to get caught up in what we want, whether it be from a material perspective (clothing, shoes, cars, or makeup) or an emotional or intellectual one (what we want from a job, relationship, family members, friendship etc). IMO, this mentality stems, in large part, from modern-day consumerism (I mean, the definition really speaks for itself: a social & economic order & ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods & services in ever-increasing amounts). We’re constantly spoonfed with messages, emails and advertisements encouraging us to WANT, NEED & BUY MORE. In adhering to these messages, we lose sight of what we already have. And that’s where the danger lies.

Instead of focusing on WHAT YOU WANT TO ACQUIRE, be grateful for what you have. You want that new pair of adidas sneakers to look cute for your fave workout class or the new model of your current car? Take a second to think about the women who can’t go to the gym because she can’t afford the membership, let alone a pair of sneakers or the man who takes the bus & metro to work in -40 degree temperatures to make a small living to provide the minimal sustenance for his family. Appreciate what you have because there is always someone out there who has it worse than you & who WISHES to be in your shoes.

By the same token, yes, there will always be people who have it better than you too. But that’s just how life goes. Don’t focus on that. Don’t preoccupy yourself with the belongings & possessions of others. What do you possess? What makes you happy? What makes you feel grateful? What are you proud of? How did you acquire what you have? Through hard work? Good. Keep at it. Be happy for others if they have more than you. Be giving & generous with those that have less. Spread kindness, not jealousy or envy. If you have the means to give a little bit of what you have to others, do it without expecting anything in return. If you don’t, give of your heart.

Make yourself a priority. Engage in self-care, self-love & positive self-talk.

Self-care isn’t selfish. I know, it sounds cliché because EVERYONE says it, right? It’s not a trend. It’s not narcissism. It’s knowing & loving yourself enough to want to be & strive to be the best possible version of yourself for YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, LOVED ONES & THE WORLD. Taking even just 15 or 30 minutes a day to do one a simple act of self-care that speaks to you shows yourself that you are WORTHY of LOVE & CARE & teaches others to love & value you as well. Once you believe that yo u deserve care, love & respect & really learn to LOVE yourself, you’ll find the tother people catch onto it too. Radiate it & you will attract it.

Self-care can be anything from an epsom salt bath, to a face mask or skincare routine, to reading a magazine, blog or book, writing, journalling, walking, listening to music, watching your fave guilty-pleasure TV show, spending time with family or friends, exercise, yoga, lying down & doing absolutely nothing at all, playing your fave sport, going on a date night, having a glass of wine & writing down some of your intentions, sitting in front of a mirror & telling yourself how beautiful you are for all your inner beauty, positive self-talk, etc. There is no right or wrong way to practice it – what matters is that YOU DO IT.

To read more about how I practice self-care & why I value it so much, click here:

Be optimistic & open- minded & say yes to new things & take risks.

I talk about comfort zones & security nets all the freaking time. Wanna know why? Because it’s human nature to be afraid of stepping out of them. The expressions include the words “comfort” & “security” for a reason, because they provide the human mind with just that. We all like to feel secure & comfortable, right? But what if I told you that one of life’s many gifts & beauties is to be spontaneous, adventurous, try new things, face fears & take risks? What if I told you that doing all of those things could open your eyes, heart & mind to things you never knew existed because you subconsciously hid from them by being a slave to comfort?

What if you went on that date even if you were a bit skeptical? What if you took that trip around the world alone without knowing where you’d stay or who you’d meet? What if you took the leap of faith & embarked on a journey to heal from your mental illness? What if you accepted to seek therapy? What if you applied for that university program halfway around the world and got in? What if you moved out & tried to live on your own? What if you moved back home? What if you ended the relationship that has been making you miserable for months without knowing if you’d meet someone else in the near future? What if you tried that new food that has scared you for months or years? What if you loved it? What if you opened your heart to a new relationship even after being cheated on, mistrusted or betrayed? What if you did something different for a change?

LET GO OF THE WHAT IF. Go on the date. Take the trip. Embark on the journey towards healing. Seek therapy. Apply for that program. Move out. Move back home. End your relationship. Try the new food. Love the new food. Open your heart to a new relationship. Let go of the pain. DO & BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS YEAR. I promise, your life will only get better.

Spend less time on people & thing that are not good for you & that fill your life with negativity.

Trust me, I know, sometimes it’s hard to get rid of negativity. Sometimes it’s hard because the negativity has been a part of our lives for so long that we’ve sadly gotten used to it, accepted it & found comfort in it. Other times, it’s because we hope that the negativity will one day, magically, turn into something positive. The unfortunate part about letting negativity into our lives & allowing it to stay there is that it subconsciously harms us more than we know. When we surround ourselves with negativity, we end up radiating the same negativity we choose to accept.

Negativity hinders growth, development & self-love as it fuels the mind with bad thoughts as opposed to filling & fuelling it with happy & positive ones. Eventually, after accepting it for long enough, it becomes a part of who we are. When you finally get rid of the negativity & surround yourself with love & positivity, you realize that what you held on to for so long was only holding you back. So as hard as it is, take it upon yourself to let go of it this year. Keep those people in your life who deserve to be there because they love you, cherish you, care for you & support you. Steer clear of those who bring you down, promote self-hate, feed you bad vibes & neglect you.

Are you staying in an unhappy relationship that you’ve been in for years only because you’re afraid of being alone or because you’re comfortable? Are you holding on to friendships that are making you feel shitty about yourself because you do so much for them but they’re only there for you when they need you? Are you stuck in a job or university program that you don’t love or find passion in simply because others approve of it? STOP RIGHT THERE. If you answered yes to any & all of those questions, let go of that relationship, stop putting so much effort into those friendships. Change programs or start a new job that you are passionate about. When you finally do the things that you love, surround yourself with positive & uplifting people & find passion & motivation in the things you invest your time in, you will be a much happier person overall.

And last but not least: COMMIT TO SMILING & LAUGHING AT LEAST ONCE A DAY!

2018… WE READY FOR YOU!!!!

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