Hi there! Today I am so excited to be talking about all things health and wellness! My journey towards better health (and falling in love with healthy foods) began my freshmen year of college, where I started developing all kinds of digestive issues. Since then, I have been on a journey of education, experimentation, and above all else, a newfound LOVE and passion for fueling my body and eating real, clean foods. You know that amazing high runners get, or that feeling you get when you watch a really amazing movie, or maybe even the feelings you experience when you are spending time with a loved one? Welp… those are the kinds of feelings I get when I experience a great tasting meal, or bite into a newly perfected recipe, or (if I am being completely honest) just walking down the aisles of Whole Foods. I know I know. Judge me all you want.
It’s only fitting then that my modeling career actually got started in a Whole Foods. I’d like to say my good health and healthy habits were rewarding me, but I know I was simply in the right place at the right time. But there I was. Completely sweaty, red-faced, and probably a tad bit smelly from my previous run, I was browsing the baking aisle looking for some alternative flour I needed for a recipe when someone approached me. A charming (& beautiful) couple walked up and asked me if I had ever considered getting into modeling. To be honest, it was something that I had mulled over in the recent months, after just moving to Hawaii. At the coffee shop I worked at, people kept approaching me and telling me that I had a unique look that would do so great in the market here in Hawaii. And, I guess my height was kind of hard to overlook. But I tend to get super uncomfortable with compliments and affirmation, so mostly I just got really awkward and changed the subject whenever this happened. Classic Tessa.
Anyways, I didn’t give it much time of day, because I had no idea how I would ever go about such a thing or who I would even talk to. And I honestly felt like I didn’t have a shred of self confidence, or think I had what it takes to make it! (But I have learned that confidence is KEY!) But it seems the aisles of Whole Foods had me covered. After chatting with the couple for a few minutes, I discovered the husband was a big-shot photographer and a very successful model (super casual, I know). He basically addressed all my concerns with entering into the industry, told me exactly who to get in contact with, AND told me he would start my portfolio and get me started with some great pictures. Just a side note, there was zero benefit to him in any of this besides helping me out and making sure I wouldn’t get taken advantage of. Totally crazy, right? And so, after some serious contemplation, I decided to give this thing a shot. Now, almost three years later, I am loving it so much. I have met some incredible people, done some amazing things, and had some unforgettable adventures. And the cherry on top, those two people who first got me started are now my agents and I get to work with them every day!
After entering into this industry, I knew that keeping my body healthy and active was even more important than ever. With that being said, I promised myself when I entered into the modeling community that I would never ever sacrifice my health to look a certain way, fit into a certain pair of pants, or be thinner for an upcoming photo shoot. Treating my body with love and respect has always remained a priority. And I guess that is why I am here, because my biggest desire and wish is that you too would have that priority. That you would understand the importance and the benefits of treating your body right and nourishing it with the nutrients that it needs and deserves. So with that being said, let’s take a new journey of our own and dive into what it truly looks like to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Having clear skin, being fit and healthy, and exhibiting positive energy are all things I have found to be of upmost importance not only in this industry, but also just something I strive for, like so many others, in my every day life. But like many things, it is easier said than done. But something many people seem to forget is the fact that the food we eat plays perhaps the biggest role in determining the outcome to these three factors. (1) The foods we eat greatly affects our skin/complexion, and knowing what foods to eat to achieve that healthy, glowing skin is crucial. There are no creams, lotions, or toners that can replace what a healthy, clean diet does for your body and your skin. (2) The foods we eat obviously affect our weight. We have all heard that saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”, right? Well it is very true. If you want a fit, lean, healthy body exercise can only get you so far. As a rule of thumb, weight loss has been said to be 75% diet and 25% exercise. So start getting smart in your kitchen, and you will see the results start to come. (3) And, something we don’t often think about, the food we eat is critical to the energy, positivity, and enthusiasm we bring to our day. Without proper nutrition, your body can’t function at its highest potential. Say for instance that you show up for a job without eating, or having grabbed a highly processed sugary bar. You’re either going to be hungry, irritable, and lethargic, or you are going to feel that rollercoaster ride of sugar and crash hard (most likely making you unpleasant to be around… definitely saying this from personal experience). Trust me, we have all been there.
I hear so many people tell me that they truly desire to eat healthy, but they just don’t know how! I first and foremost want to say that this isn’t about “dieting”. This is about making a lifestyle change to better yourself and your body. It’s about making better choices, and being educated on how those choices affect you and your body. With that being said, it is extremely important to change your mindset from eating to become thin, to eating to become healthy. The point of eating is to nourish your body and to give it the proper nutrients it needs to function. If you are nourishing your body with real, clean, WHOLE foods, then you will be setting yourself up to lose weight (if that is your goal), get toned, and feel amazing. And who doesn’t want that?
Before we get into how to actually eat healthy, here are some helpful tips to starting your journey:
- Find something that works for YOU. There are seriously hundreds of plans, diets, lifestyles, fads, etc circulating in our society right now, all offering the “best” and most effective way of losing weight, or getting thin. But I will be the first to tell you, what works great for someone else may not work for you… at all! Our body compositions and genetic makeups are all so unique and individual that it would be impossible to follow someone else’s diet plan and get the exact same results. For instance, I am plant-based, flirting with veganism (I still eat the occasional fish, eggs, whatever). I don’t like to label myself and how I eat, but to make a point, there you go. I have been eating like this for a couple months, and I feel like I am thriving. My body has never felt better, and my skin has never been clearer. I have tried basically everything out there (paleo, vegetarian, crazy macro-counting, high carb-low fat, low carb-high fat, etc etc etc), and this is what I have found works best for me. That being said, I eat what feels good to my body. I eat a TON of veggies, a TON of healthy fats, and have cut out all processed foods and sugars because I know my body rejects them. If I want to eat fish, I am going to fuel my body with high quality, unprocessed fish. I used to crave big juicy burgers and meat with almost every meal. But knowing how great I feel without that, I don’t ever crave it anymore. Like I said, you just have to find what works for you, and what helps you to perform optimally. Don’t follow someone else’s plan because you think they look great and are super thin. I’m saving you a lot of time and energy by telling you that does not work! (For example: I tried eating a high-carb high-fruit totally plant based diet and I felt terrible. I saw so many beautiful, thin, confident women doing this so I thought it had to be the ticket. But it wreaked so much havoc on my digestion and I ended up actually gaining weight, or at least bloating up like a balloon, and breaking out. It may work for those women, but my system could not handle all that fructose.)
- This is not, I repeat, NOT about restricting yourself and taking out a bunch of things from your diet. When you feel like you are being restricted, healthy eating can become a chore and feels more like a punishment than an exciting adventure. Eating healthy is about adding IN the foods and nutrients that make your body thrive. It is about learning the amazing wealth of healthy foods that taste amazing AND nourish your body. It is about making better decisions for your body and knowing when to “treat yourself” and when to make an educated choice that you know your body will appreciate. I don’t necessarily cut out coffee and frozen yogurt because its unhealthy or bad for me. I choose to try to avoid these things because when I do make a decision to eat them, I know that I am going to pay the consequences in the form of irritability, slugish-ness, bloating, acne, etc. This goes back to knowing your body. And let me tell you, fro-yo is my Achilles heel (gosh, ask every single one of my friends, it’s bad). And do I still eat it? Abso-freakin-lutely. But I prepare myself for the consequences when I do, and I only have it in moderation. Moderation becomes your best friend.
- PLAN AHEAD. PREPARE. PREP. Eating healthy is an investment in your future. And with every investment comes commitment. I am not saying you need to spend hours every week planning and prepping, but you do need to spend a little extra time to set yourself up for success. And if you think you don’t have time, trust me, you do. I am insanely busy and involved in probably way too many things, but because my health is important to me, I make the time for it. And here is what I mean by planning: go grocery shopping to prepare for your week. Meal prep so you have healthy, available options on hand. Make a game plan for how you want to live this lifestyle and stick with it. And if you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to buy at the grocery store” or “I have never meal prepped before” don’t worry. I’m here to help you out with that! I have a couple resources on my blog to give you some ideas. Check out the meal prep blog post I wrote, to see how I do it!
- Remember to eat foods you enjoy. Yes I eat salads. And veggies. But that is because I LOVE the taste and the exciting combinations I can come up with for my salads each day, and I love the different flavors and creations I can come up with for different veggies. But if you don’t like salads, you don’t have to eat them every single meal, all the time! Find a fun way to incorporate your leafy greens and veggies another way! (Smoothies, buddha bowls, stir-frys, quinoa power bowls, egg scrambles, etc etc you get the picture!) If you love pasta? Eat pasta! But find healthy alternatives that nourish your body and make you feel good! You love white rice? Hello! Who doesn’t? But try eating it with some healthy fats, like avocado, so you aid the digestion process and slow the uptake of your carbs! You love chocolate? ME TOO. So eat chocolate! Find good brands that are made of real ingredients and aren’t highly processed… the more processed the bean the more nutrients are lost! (For example, Eating Evolved, Honey Mama’s, & Hu Kitchen are some of my favorite brands.) Like I said, this isn’t about cutting all the things you love out of your diet. It is about rethinking the way in which you eat them, and being able to make healthy, educated decisions.
- Learn. Balance. This goes hand in hand with the point above. If you love chocolate, eat it! But eat it in moderation and in the proper serving sizes. Your body can handle the sugar (it’s an amazingly complex and capable machine and is able to do so much more than we give it credit for). But when you eat it in excess, that excess is stored in your body as fat. Learn to say no to things, but also learn how to say yes. This is one of the hardest things when starting to shift your eating habits. You have to find that sweet balance of enjoying the things you love, but also steering clear of the foods that don’t serve you well. When you find that balance, you find a lifestyle that you can maintain. So many of those fad diets out there don’t work in the long run because they are not sustainable and almost impossible to maintain. If you completely cut out ALL sugars & chocolate for a month, yes, you are going to lose weight. But is that something you want to maintain for the rest of your life? Probably not. So find a balance between saying no to the sugars you don’t need and don’t serve your body, and saying yes to eating those sweet treats in moderation and in proper serving sizes. There’s no shame in that, friends! (I’m eating a black bean brownie as I write this, guys! My middle name is basically balance…)
Being able to achieve these things takes time and a good amount of will power. It also takes failure. Because we are human, we are going to fail from time to time. But learning how to respond to that failure and being able to make the cognitive decision to pick yourself up, brush your shoulders off, and keep going is what will make you successful in this. Give yourself grace when you fail and give yourself the confidence to know you are fully capable of changing your lifestyle and make better decisions for your future.
I know those of you reading this are not all at the same place in your journey. For some, these may be things you have already heard, or feel like I am just beating a dead horse over the head… (that’s a saying right?) And for some of you, this may all be totally new information. Regardless, we are all still on the journey, and that’s what makes us similar. In any case, I want to offer you some helpful tips that have worked for me and I am hoping help you as well. Because grocery shopping can be the most daunting task, I’m providing a helpful grocery list to make things a little easier. I also made a list of the best foods to eat for healthy skin (coming SOON), because we know how important this is! I also have many healthy recipe ideas here on my blog if you need some inspiration. And as always, please reach out with any questions that you have! Have a wonderful day, loves! Make it count!