Finding a Balance: Tips for making Changes towards a Healthier Life.

imagePlease keep in mind these are MY thoughts and opinions. I choose to write about these topics and share my advice and opinions with you all because they mean something to me and I hope they can help someone out in the World. This is a written collection of my thoughts and experiences with the subject. Please comment below if you have any questions.

      Living a balanced and healthy life can take Time to truly achieve. It can seem so daunting, and difficult to manage. Yet, in the end it is all about making those small changes every day and making them a part of your normal routine. Make these changes into habits and a part of your lifestyle, because it is our routine and habits we create that will ultimately help us succeed. I am still learning about how to find a balance with some things, but for the most part I feel very happy and satisfied with my current routine. For me, making the change was not only about creating healthy and sustainable habits, but about cutting out the bad ones that were having a negative impact on my health and mental well-being. Not only did I change my routine by eating healthier, more nourishing foods and exercising regularly, I also stopped doing the things that were bringing me down. Partying at least 3 days a week and over drinking was a big part of my life for years, and cutting it out was one of the Best Decisions of my life. I still go out occasionally and have a drink or two, But it is Nothing compared to the old me. I am still learning so much about health, fitness and taking care of my body everyday. But I have established a routine that works for me, a balance that works for my body and each day I work hard to keep improving.image

 I found a Quote on one of my followers pages and it fit in very appropriately with my theme “You’ll Never Change Your Life Until You Change Something You Do Daily. The Secret of Your Success Is Found In Your Daily Routine”John C. Maxwell This is so very true, You must make a change to see and feel a change. You must make taking care of your body a part of your daily routine.

   You can make simple changes at first, small adjustments to what you’re used to. It could be a dietary change, like switching any heavily processed foods for fresh and natural products. For example:

  • Switching processed white sugar for raw brown sugar, stevia or another alternative natural sweetener.
  • Replacing white pasta and breads for whole grain alternatives, such as brown rice, sprouted wheat,  whole wheat or spelt.
  • Swapping sugary soft drinks and soda for regular or fruit infused water or tea.

BUT with all of these things, You MUST read the Ingredients and labels. There are many ‘Healthy” Alternatives out on the shelves these days, a gluten-free option, sugar-free, low-carb or low-fat, and while some of these are great, there are also many that contain extra preservatives or additives just to give them flavor or keep them on the shelves longer. Do a little research and Be aware of what you are buying. My goal when grocery shopping is to buy as many fresh and plain products as possible, fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt, brown rice, whole grain pasta, cage-free eggs (organic when possible) plain tomato sauce, etc. Then I add the flavoring at home, so I know exactly what I am putting on my food and into my body.

    Another important change is to start incorporating some kind of physical exercise into your daily routine. It can be as simple as:

  • Walking to the grocery store or university, instead of driving or taking the bus.
  • Riding your bike to work or going on a bike ride for fun.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walking around and exploring your city or surrounding towns.

   Each of these small things will add up and they Will make a difference. When you are feeling ready to do something a little more challenging there are soo many options!

  • Join a gym or local fitness center.
  • Sign up for a fitness class or join a local sports team.
  • Join a support group on Instagram or Facebook that will help you keep accountable with exercising and eating.
  • Watch Youtube videos of exercises tutorials and workout routines.
  • Hire a Personal Trainer to get you started.
  • Purchase a structured Workout guide such as the Bikini Body Guide or Tone It Up plan.

     There are soo many options. You must make a little effort and take the time do some research or ask some friends or family for advice and get started! There will always be people to Help you, but Ultimately it is Your Life and You Must put in some Effort!
   For me,  I cut out unhealthy foods and started at the gym almost immediately, after returning home from Spain. I knew that personally I needed a bit more of a challenge physically and was very motivated at the time, so I started going at least 4-5 days a week. At the beginning I was doing mostly cardio for about an hour at a time, followed by a few classic abdominal exercises or using a few of the weight machines for legs. Now, more than a year later, I do a mixture of resistance training using my body weight and light weights, High Intensity Interval training, heavier Weight Lifting, stretching (beginners Yoga) and some typical cardiovascular such as jogging or walking. I follow Aussie Trainer Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide, as well as my own extra routines. I have a very diverse and balanced routine in my opinion, and this is what has been working the best for me, but I absolutely respect those who choose to focus on just one or two of those methods.

 image    On an average week, I work out 5-6 days a week, for anywhere from 1-1.5 hours including warm-up, my routine and stretching, be that a bit of cardio, weights, or circuit training and always take at least one rest day. Currently, I eat home cooked meals 90% of the time and rarely drink. I try to have a semi-set schedule of when I wake up, eat, work, exercise and go to sleep, but my work schedule can vary greatly from one week to the next and so I have had to learn to be flexible and go with the flow.  My normal habits do not not change, but the order in which I do them and the amount of time I dedicate to each one sometimes has to be adjusted. But that is okay, because I know I have created a lifestyle and habits that are sustainable for me and I will absolutely keep it up. (will do a separate blog about my workout routine and schedule soon!)

Remember we are all capable of changing our habits and routines. Find what works for You and give it your best every single day!  ❤ Alena

Healthy Living Dreams

cropped-image14.jpegWe each have our own story, our history, our different experiences, opinions, our life plans, hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations and wishes. And each of our journeys is as beautiful and unique as the next. 

This website/blog is a dedication to a passion for life, all things fitness and health, exploring the World, living abroad and finding a healthy balance through it all. It is a collection of my personal experiences, research, and opinions that I want to share with others, in hopes that I might motivate, inspire and encourage someone else to change their life for the better, in whatever way that may be.  


❤ Alena Elizabeth


This Blog post is about the importance of Physical activity as well as a bit about my personal experience with different types of exercise, including cardio, lifting weights, plyometrics and part of my experience with the ‘Bikini Body Guide’ by Kayla Itsines. 

imageThere are so many different forms of exercise and so many people with an opinion about what is best for you. Sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming. But I find that it is important to remember that We are Unique Individuals! We are people who have different Goals, different Body Types and different Genetics. There is one thing we can’t argue with though, that Regular Exercise or Physical Activity of some kind is Absolutely necessary for our well being. Luckily for us there are so many different ways to stay active! We must each find out what works best for us as individuals and works for our goals. Whether you want to lose weight, get toned, get stronger, be able to run a marathon, get bendy with yoga, etc. there are so many options! Just to name a few, there’s swimming, walking, running, cycling, gymnastics, surfing, crossfit, lifting weights, yoga, resistance training, hiit, etc. We each have the choice to decide for ourselves, learn what we like best and learn what works well for our own body. It may take time to discover what we like best, but the journey can be rewarding and such a great learning experience.

Over the years, I have tried a variety of different types of exercise. However, it has been over the past year that I have really discovered the most about fitness and the healthy eating habits that work best for My Body.  {{ Check out my ‘About Me‘ for more information about my lifestyle change and fitness journey! }}  When I returned home from living abroad for the 2nd time(in Sept.2013), I was doing mostly cardio, 45 minutes to 1 hour+ on the elliptical, followed by some Abdominal exercises or a little work with the machines. This lasted for a couple of months and while it definitely helped me lose some initial weight, in addition to completely changing my eating habits, I still felt weak and was having so much trouble toning up. So I started doing more and more research online about different types of exercises and payed close attention to other people at the gym. I also started using social media sites such as Instagram and discovered so many amazing Health and Fitness accounts, and I will forever be grateful for those discoveries. I found fitness and food tips, daily workouts, insightful and educational posts about different types of exercises and more. This really sparked my motivation to try new things and step out of my comfort zone in the gym!

image One of my first big changes, during Spring of 2014, was to start lifting light weights and using more of the machines. I was nervous to pick up the free weights or get on a weight machine and look like an ass in front of the more experienced lifters, but thanks to seeing other women around the World doing the same, and the support of my sister (who is very knowledgeable when it comes to fitness) I quickly got over myself and went for it! Everyone starts somewhere after all. I started with super simple routines with free weights, but was still mostly relying on the machines.

      One of my Biggest discoveries on Instagram was Australian Personal Trainer, Kayla Itsines. She is the creator of the Bikini Body Guide, a 12-Week training program that uses variety of different training techniques. I discovered her Instagram and Website last February (almost a year ago!) but didn’t buy the guide right away. I was still learning, wanted to go at my own pace and didn’t feel I was ready. But I saw all these amazing women changing their lives and saw Kayla, a relatively small girl completely Destroying Stereotypes about smaller women. She was So Strong and Fit and her Strength and  Workout Videos truly Inspired me.. So I started slowly but surely started incorporating some of her recommended exercises, such as Box Jumps, Tricep Dips, Lunges and Step-Ups! Some of my Absolute Favorite Exercises Now. I followed her tips and also started using some weights when doing Squats, Lunges and Started using a variety of new machines and free weighted exercises.

Slowly but surely I was getting
stronger! Finally this Summer I decided to buy her training guide, but just as I was really ready to buy it, she came out with a 2.0 version. A continuation of her 1st guide. By this point I felt that my fitness level had greatly improved (it had been about 5 months) and I was much more into lifting weights than anything else, and knew the 2.0 exercises required the use of more weights. So, I purchased the 2nd Guide beginning of September and finished it 1st week of January 2015. Towards the middle/end of the 2.0 Guide I realized how much better it would have been to have done the 1st guide from the beginning! and so I decided after I finished the 2.0 guide (with some modifications) I would go back and Start fresh from the Beginning. So, I am on Week 6 from the 1st guide and I’m Loving it!! And I discovered that the 1.0 guide does actually incorporate some weights.

>>I HIGHLY Recommend starting with the 1.0 Bikini Body Guide! If I could go back in time I would start with this one, but instead I’m doing it now, alongside thousands of other women around the World with #thekaylamovement, which started January 5th, 2015 and is still going strong! I’m currently on my 4th round and just hit the 1 year mark!!<<

I really love the fast paced, timed workouts from the guide, but I do still like to go at my own pace and do some extra weighted workouts sometimes, although much less than before (will do a separate post about that Very Soon!). With the BBG, each session, (which are a variety of Legs & Cardio, Arms & Abs, and Full Body workout) has two different circuits, each of which you repeat twice. The goal is to repeat the 4 exercises and the listed repetitions as many times as you can can in a 7 minute period. Then you rest for a short period (30-90 seconds), and go on to do the 2nd circuit in the same way, and then repeat the 1st and 2nd again. It takes a total of roughly 30 minutes or so. It has been such a great experience having this guide and challenging myself to do all these exercises.

image Every week my fitness knowledge grows, thanks to easily accessible knowledge sharing through sites like Instagram, certain blogs and the internet in general. Each and every day I learn something new about about how to take care of my body, how to sculpt it, nurture it and heal it. My fitness journey has been such a learning experience, and I am grateful to have found my own healthy balance with exercise and eating. I am so excited to see what the future brings and what I can accomplish.

I encourage you All
 to do some of you own Research, ask friends with Fitness experience for help and find a supportive community of like-minded people with similar goals, whether it be on Instagram, Facebook or in the “Real” World.

Keep Believing in Yourself and Never Give Up!

Will share my Weekly Schedule, including my BBG Routine and extra Workouts very soon!
Love, Alena