I remember when I first started to try to be healthier. My thought process went a little something like this: “How the F am I going to afford all of this? Being healthy is expensive.” I now realize this isn’t true, but it is a common misconception. Any lifestyle can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on how you choose to live it. Like, being unhealthy can also be expensive…feel me? Kombucha, collagen, vitamins, matcha, “natural” skin care products, group fitness/gym memberships, high-quality activewear, the list of what some consider to be “healthy lifestyle MUSTS” goes on and on…and that shit adds up.
I’m definitely guilty of purchasing things I didn’t need in the long run, but since becoming vegan and making my health a top priority, there are also things I’ve purchased that made being healthy MUCH easier. To save you some grief (and hopefully cash), I’ve compiled them all into a list. Some of these are specific brands, and some are general concepts. Some are brands I’ve worked with, some are not. Overall, though, I believe they’re all worth investing in.
healthy lifestyle essentials, according to G
Investing in a QUALITY, high-speed blender is seriously life-changing; no matter what your diet looks like. Before I got a Vitamix, I was eating vegan food. After getting a Vitamix, I was experimenting with, creating with, and LOVING ON vegan food. Here are a few things I make with my Vitamix that I couldn’t make with my first blender: homemade nut milk, vegan raw desserts, vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan sauces and dishes, juices, soup…the list goes on and on. Investing in a quality blender up front is worth it in the long run. I like my Vitamix because the blade is stainless-steel so it will blend through basically anything, it has up to 10-year full warranty, and it’s available in big sizes, which makes meal-prepping for the week a breeze.
*TIP: You can a Vitamix refurbished for WAY cheaper, and they come good as new!
a LEGIT waterbottle
…or a few, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll accidentally leave a trail of them all throughout Manhattan. (Let us take a moment of silence for every water bottle I’ve lost.)
A legit waterbottle is essential for a few reasons. First off, it’s better for the environment to minimize how much plastic you use. (Duh.) Second, it encourages you to drink more water, which is basically #1 on every, “What to do to be a healthier human in general,” list on the internet. (Here’s mine!)
books, books, books!
It seems silly that I have to mention this but it is SO IMPORTANT. Every life-changing decision I’ve made or positive mental shift I’ve experienced has been because of a book I read. If you struggle with finishing books or taking the time to sit down and read, buy them on audio and listen to them on your commute, while you’re cooking dinner, or whatever. Some of my favorites include The Secret, The China Study, You’re A Badass, Co-Dependent No More, How Not To Die, The Universe Has Your Back, and Woman Code.
I know, I know…buying organic groceries is more expensive than it should be. However, in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. Buying organic helps keep our water clean. It also helps protect animals because pesticides sneak into their habitats causing them to suffer. It also helps with soil erosion and lessens your chance of consuming GMOs. If you’re on a tight budget, I suggest searching, “The dirty dozen” on the internet. This is a list of 12 foods you should always buy organic, even if you’re on a budget.
I’m not talking about having a bunch of random free apps on your phone. I’m talking about investing in a yearly subscription and making these apps part of your daily/weekly routine. My personal favorite is a meditation app called Headspace. To find the app that’s worth investing in for you, I suggest two things. 1. Look inward and ask yourself: What areas of my life could I improve on? Narrow it down to categories (health, fitness, organization, etc), and go from there. 2. Practice a TON of trial and error. Obviously, you’re not going to love every app you come across. But once you find one that feels natural to your routine, don’t half-ass it; commit to it and buy it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Set yourself up for success. You can definitely be healthier and mindful without fitness trackers, bullet journals, and organization apps, but why would you make it harder for yourself to succeed and refrain from investing in things that will make your life easier? In my experience, tools like these have held me accountable. They make me excited to exercise, plan out my day, and cross things off my to-do list. A few of my favorite productivity tools are my apple watch, my 5 Minute Journal, and my planner.
Right before and after January 1st, all of my social feeds become filled with endless, “how to keep your resolution” articles. Apparently, the media has caught on to the fact that the idea of keeping up with something for an entire year (or even a few months, at that) is pretty daunting. People love to set New Year’s resolutions for themselves because a calendar forces them to do so, yet there’s a universal, collective scoff at the concept of actually keeping them. I remember reading something last year that said 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Well, that’s encouraging!
I bring this up because the inability to “stay on track” is one of the biggest reasons people tell me they’re hesitant to eventry to be healthier. I often hear things like, “I could be vegan for one day a week, but that’s it.” or, “I want to be healthy but I couldn’t keep up with it.” Come to think of it, I’m definitely guilty of this thought process as well. I believe a huge part of how I’ve successfully eliminated things out of my diet was by telling myself at first that whatever I was changing wasn’t forever, just to take the pressure off. Wtf is up with that?
In my opinion, there are two big reasons that many people don’t feel like they can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The first reason is that food choices often turn into habits, and habits are hard to break. The second? Fear.
I’m definitely a creature of habit. Once I’ve found a routine that makes me comfortable and gives my life structure, breaking away from that can be extremely difficult. Especially if those habits stem from my emotions (sweets before bed). Once your brain has made space for a food habit at a certain time of the day, your life can feel empty without it.
I’ve come to find that when people ask me how I stay motivated in all aspects of my health, my go-to answer, “willpower” isn’t supppeerrrr popular. Here’s the thing, though: Over the years, my willpower has gotten MUCH stronger because before making any drastic changes or right when I started my journey, I prepared myself to do so.
My advice? Simple: Set yourself up for success by PREPARING. Mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare yourself for the changes you’re about to make. Don’t let a habit or fear dictate your decisions. You dictate your decisions.
8 things you can do maintain a healthy lifestyle
1. educate yourself
What are the factsbehind your decision? This has been really helpful for me when my emotions tempt me to make choices I normally wouldn’t. Before I went vegan, I read countless books on the lifestyle. This way, in a, “I want that slice of pizza and it’s making me sad I can’t have it, so I’m gonna have it,” moment, the logical side of my brain overrides the emotional and all of the FACTS behind why I became vegan pop into my head. You can do this with any lifestyle, form of exercise, etc. Read a damn book, peeps!
2. be honest with yourself about your reasoning
Why do you want to do this? Are you trying to lose weight, are you doing it for the environment, or are you just trying to experiment? There isn’t a right or wrong answer, however, there is an honest and dishonest answer. If you stay true to yourself and your reasoning, nothing can take that away from you; and it feels liberating as fuck.
3. surround yourself with like-minded people
I’m definitely not telling you to ditch your friends that don’t choose to live the same way you do. BUT, I definitely am telling you that adding more people into your life that do choose to live the same way you do makes the entire process a hell of a lot easier. I mean, who doesn’t want more friends?
4. find your “tools”
Imagine me saying tools in air quotes because these tools can be both a tangible and emotional thing. I’ve found a little bit of both work for me: journaling (physical and emotional), meditating, and running. For my personality type, fitness trackers really help with holding me accountable.
5. meal prep!
SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE FOODIES IN THE BACK. (Insert clapping emoji.) I can’t stress this enough. Obviously, you’re more likely to make a healthy choice if it’s waiting for you in your fridge. People are so hard on themselves when they make unhealthy meal choices, yet all they’d have to do to make choosing a healthy meal a no-brainer is prepare it ahead of time. It saves you money, you learn how to cook, the list of pros goes on and on. If you’re looking for some meal prep inspo, here’s my formula for quick, easy, plant-based meals.
6. share your experiences
I have amazing news: There is enough positive energy and abundance in the world for EVERYONE. So, why not share it with as many people as you can? Once I started noticing all of the positive things a healthy lifestyle did to my body and mood, I felt an overwhelming need to share everything I learned with others. Not only did this allow me to help people I cared about, but it also held me accountable. The more people I’d share it with, the more people that would reach out to me for help. Because of this, I made sure to educate myself as much as I could. It’s crazy what you can do when you know others are depending on you.
7. know that change is coming
…and keep with it until you start noticing a difference. In anything. Energy levels, weight, acne, etc. Everybody is different, therefore, change comes at different paces for everyone. But something I can guarantee is that as soon as one change happens, the rest come very quickly. Use this as motivation to keep up with it until you see the first change.
8. only do it if you’re ready
My mom read Skinny Bitch, The Secret, and The Seat of the Soul when I was in high school. She told me all about them, and I read The Secret when I was 17. It didn’t make a difference to me, though; the information went in one ear and out the other. During that time in my life, I was stubborn, insecure, and unwilling to change. It wasn’t until after recovering from my eating disorder that I was mentally prepared to take in all of the information I needed to make some positive changes. Don’t force it or it will become a chore. No one wants to do chores…
I hope these things can help you as much as they helped me. If you ever feel like you’re about to “fall off the wagon,” don’t be so hard on yourself. All you have to do to stay grounded is remember where you started and never lose sight of where you’re going.
I’m pretty sure that when the photo above was taken, at that moment, I was the happiest woman in Times Square. I was hungover as shit, and my $3 bagel and $2 iced coffee were bringing me back to life in just enough time to only be five minutes late to a meeting with my editor, rather than the usual 10 or 15 after a night of clubbing with promoters. At that point in my life, you might have well just stuck an IV of iced coffee in my arm for me to have at all times…then I’d REALLY be a happy camper.
I don’t remember the moment where coffee started becoming a regular part of my routine. If you know me well, though, you know that when I’m invested in something, I’m REALLY invested. My relationship with coffee was no different. As soon as I started, I couldn’t go a day without it. The moment I woke up, I’d feel a headache if I didn’t have a cup in hand right away. If more than a half hour went by and I didn’t have any, I’d start to feel REAL withdrawals: shakes, mood swings, digestive issues, you name it. And—stating the obvious because many people feel this way—without coffee, I was pretty unpleasant to be around.
I smoked cigarettes in college, and when I interned in London senior year, the black coffee and cigarette duet was 100% the highlight of my day. On my way to work, I’d sit on the tube with a cup of black coffee in between my legs and use the napkin they’d give me to hold the cup as a rolling station for my hand-rolled cigarettes.
The time period between living abroad (and then a short month in New York) and graduation was when I first started becoming interested in my health. I knew I was going to move to the city and try to make my dreams come true, and I also knew that I had to be in a good mental and physical place to do so. That’s when I decided to quit smoking. If only coffee were that simple.
I moved to New York to be a journalist. My first job in the city required me to write five stories a day, five days a week. Given the fact that I’d literally have five deadlines every time I went to work, coffee quickly became my safety net when yet another deadline would approach and I felt behind. Every morning, I’d have a cup of coffee at home. Then, I’d pick up a venti iced coffee on my way to work. Every afternoon, I’d have a cup of tea. Around three or so, my coworkers and I would make another Starbucks run, making that coffee number three or four for me. Finally, while I had that job, I’d often work from home if I didn’t meet what was expected of me that day. You better believe my “work from home moments” consisted of cup after cup of black coffee, accompanied by Anderson Paak and a lavender scented candle.
As I sit here and type this, I’m realizing that though I’ve changed my lifestyle dramatically in the past few years, the present and past Gater have something in common: Deep in my gut, in my soul, I always know when I’m doing something that doesn’t serve me in ways that will push me forward, towards a better life. The main difference between the present and past Gater is that back then, I’d ignore it, even if I knew it was wrong. Now, I always take action and make a conscious effort to make positive lifestyle adjustments. If I see myself walking towards a cliff, I just turn around.
Needless to say, when I was having anywhere from four to six cups of coffee a day, it became clear to me that this was something I needed. At that point, I was beyond just wanting a cup of coffee. Without it, I couldn’t get my day started. I couldn’t get my work done. I couldn’t function.
At the time, my desk was nestled in-between another section editor and our copy editor. After realizing that I was depending on coffee to do my job, I asked the copy editor (also a dear friend), if he’d be interested in seeing how long we could go without it. To my surprise, he agreed to try it out. Little did both of us know that this would ultimately lead to my decision to quit coffee altogether.
Something I want to mention here is that when I went vegan, I didn’t do it by going cold-turkey. First, I tried being a vegetarian. After seeing all of the positive results that a meatless diet had on my body and mind, I decided to stop having dairy six months later. Then, I learned more about the vegan lifestyle, and a few months after that, I let go of eggs and fish. I compare quitting coffee to going vegan because when I got started on both, I put ZERO pressure on myself. When I became a vegetarian, I didn’t intend to become vegan, it happened naturally. This is the same thing that I did with coffee, and I really believe that that’s how I’ve kept up with it for this long!
Long story short: Letting go of a part of your everyday life is a huge decision. For me, it made it so much easier if I told myself, “I’m just going to see how long I can go and take note of how I feel. If I want to have it, I’ll have it. If I feel okay and see positive results, I’ll keep at it.” If I took it truly day by day and didn’t make it a big deal in my mind, then that’s exactly what it was. Not a big deal.
Sure, I had withdrawals at first. Right when I woke up on day one, I wanted a cup of coffee. But in that moment, I just told myself, “Try to make it to lunch, AT LEAST.” Once I pushed through and lunch came around, I would think, “Try to make it until the end of the workday,” or even, “try to make it another hour. Another minute.” After I got through day one, I realized I could do this, so day two didn’t seem as bad. After three days, I started to feel better. I noticed how much money I was saving. I woke up naturally. I felt less foggy. This was enough for me to keep at it, and it wasn’t until a year and a half later that I decided to have a cup, simply because I missed the taste and my boyfriend at the time made it every morning. To my surprise this time around, every time I’d have coffee, my body would reject it. This is the same thing that happens to me if there’s dairy in something that I’m unaware of, and for me, when my body sends me signals, I really try to respect it and listen.
So, do I have caffeine? Yes! I just don’t drink coffee. I have caffeine in the form of matcha and kombucha. I enjoy these drinks because I LOVE the health benefits and taste of both. I don’t drink them every day, and I don’t have them first thing in the morning. I only drink them after a meal due to the effect it has on my hormones if I drink them on an empty stomach.
During and after my “coffee cleanse,” I did have cravings, there’s no doubt about that. Even to this day, sometimes I see someone walking down the street with an iced-coffee, and for a split-second, I think, “Damn, that looks good.” Over time, though, I’ve learned a few tricks to stay on track. I’d love to share them with you here!
Quitting coffee has been such an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. I have no regrets. If you’re interested in giving it a try, here are some tips that helped me.
tips on quitting coffee
1. hot water + lemon
When I first decided I was going to give the “no coffee life” a shot, a friend had told me that hot water and lemon was said to give your body a natural boost of energy when enjoyed first thing in the morning. Not only did this wake me up naturally and help with my coffee detox tremendously, it has also become part of my daily drink routine. Lemons are full of tons of lovely benefits, so I add them to everything I can.
2. replace the ritual
Looking back, I think this is what I wanted to hold onto the most. Sure, the withdrawals weren’t a pleasant thought, but for me, coffee was an experience. I loved holding a hot mug in the morning and before I went to sleep. I loved hugging my hands around a mug at brunch. The smell it had, the culture surrounding it…these were things that seemed irreplaceable to me at first. If you’re serious about trying to quit it, I promise you, there are so many other things that can replace your coffee ritual that provide the same emotional experience. For me, those things were (and still are) enjoying hot water and lemon, learning to make my own matcha latte, and making my own nut milk. I still believe the culture surrounding coffee is bad ass, but I can wholeheartedly say I love my new rituals just as much if not more.
3. Be honest with yourself, and then experiment
Are you wanting to quit caffeine altogether, or, are you just trying to lower your coffee intake? Are you open to alternatives, like matcha or decaf? Also, why are you having coffee in the first place? Do you truly enjoy the taste, or do you need it to start your day or get your digestive system going? If you are honest with yourself about all of the above, your journey and the decisions make will seem much, much clearer.
4. grab a buddy
This was a deal-breaker for me. It’s kind of like having a workout buddy; it’s a win-win situation. If you embark on this journey with someone else, you’ll have a shoulder to lean on when things get rough, you’ll have someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, AND, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable. I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it if I didn’t have someone to check in with throughout the process.
5. keep track of how much $$ you save without it
I’m not even going to tell you how much money I spent on coffee each month…THAT’S how embarrassing it was. Even if you don’t drink it often or make it at home, that shit adds up. If you don’t really have an emotional attachment to coffee and you’re looking for other reasons to quit, this could serve as great motivation. Who doesn’t wanna save some extra cash?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope I can help you on your journey, no matter what you decide!