Living a Healthy Life

When I woke up this morning Facebook greeted me with a little dose of “time hop” with the photo below, on the left, taken in July 2007. It’s hard to believe that was 11 years ago, and even harder to believe that it would be another 3 years before I would actually start making real changes to start living healthier. I am always super curious about other people’s health and fitness routines, especially “normal” people who aren’t fitness models. Aren’t you? I’m always intrigued by people who live a healthy life but still appear to go out, drink wine, mix up fancy cocktails and eat ice cream in bed (I do all of those things on a regular basis), and don’t have a personal trainer. Just real people giving it their best, you know?

Dani Before and After July 2018

I think it’s good to show people that you don’t have to spend 6 hours in the gym each week to feel and look your best (it’s not realistic for most of us and I would much rather be outside!), and that you don’t have to have 5% body fat and ripped arms to be fit. One of the first things I noticed after moving to Europe is how few gyms there are here. They exist, for sure, but it’s a stark contrast to the US, where there are gyms, boot camp facilities and barre studios on every corner (sometimes a few on each corner, am I right?), and yet everyone is pretty trim and healthy. What’s their secret?

Their secret is pretty much the same as mine. They build activity into their daily routine (lots of biking and walking) and they avoid processed foods. That is pretty much, in summary, the routine I have followed for the past 8 years. I’ve not only had great results, but I’ve found it very easy to maintain. Here are 9 of the things I do to feel my healthiest:

I eat mostly whole foods. Sure, I consume my fair share of beer, wine, and ice cream, but the rule I follow is to eat as many whole foods as possible, especially Monday-Thursday. I try to make sure that at least 80% of my diet is made up of whole foods. Think of whole foods as something that has just one ingredient, i.e. spinach, cashews, an apple, a banana, brown rice, a sweet potato. It doesn’t mean that you can’t combine them into salads or rice bowls, it just means trying to fit as many of these foods into your meals as possible. Eating this way helps you avoid processed food, which results in a healthier diet full of the nutrients your body needs.

I get a lot of fitness from function. I like to walk and bike, and I try to work as much of that into my daily life as possible. Now that we live in Copenhagen and no longer have a car, it has been even easier to just get daily exercise by walking to the store, going to get coffee, walking the dog etc. I prefer fitness from function because it doesn’t feel like working out. Being more active in my daily life means long-term wellness is more maintainable.

I do simple, at-home workouts. I recently wrote about how I’m staying in shape despite no longer having a gym membership or regular workout class. See here for my at-home workout tips. I do short (15-20) minute at-home circuits that focus on things I want to improve or maintain. I love doing ab exercises, so I do a lot of ab work. I have family history of arm/shoulder problems, so I build arm strength to hopefully help avoid problems.

I stay hydrated. I try to drink at least 100 ounces of water each day, usually closer to 150 ounces if possible. I’ve been doing this for 8 years and it is such a huge part of what makes me feel my best. Being hydrated not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, it also impacts practically every aspect of your overall health, from healthy skin to brain function. When I’m hydrated I feel more alert and creative. Here are my Tips for Drinking more Water.

I get plenty of sleep. You know who has been in bed by 9 or 10 PM practically every weeknight for the past 8 years? This girl. It has meant saying no to some social activities and occasional jokes about how early we eat dinner, but there’s no shame in prioritizing your health (and that means your sleep). Do what you gotta do to get a good night’s rest.

I don’t take birth control. I’m not anti-birth-control. In fact, I spent almost 15 years on it. However, I’ve been off it for 4 years and have no intention of ever taking it again. Birth control doesn’t make me feel healthy, and I prefer other forms of contraception over taking hormones on a daily basis. For me, being off birth control makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, helps me feel more focused, and helps me manage natural changes in my mood by being able to experience and understand my natural cycle of ups and downs. It’s not an answer or even an option for everyone, but for me, it is the right choice.

I use The Daily Page to stay motivated and organize my life, wellness and work in one place. There’s a reason why I’ve sold over 20,000 of these. They work! I designed The Daily Page to help me get everything out of my head and onto paper. If you feel like you wake up in the morning, sit down at your desk, and spend the next 8 hours procrastinating, or that your days aren’t as productive as they could be, these are for you. They help you extract that information out of your head and onto paper. Not just your to-do list, but your personal goals, shopping list, meal plans, fitness goals, cleaning, hydration + more. There are plenty of productivity apps out there, and I love several of them, but for me, they can become just another digital space that ends up adding to me stress. There’s scientific evidence that supports the benefits of writing things down. Using The Daily Page helps me feel less anxious and stressed and also helps me sleep better at night.  Get 10% off your order with code HONEY at checkout.

I limit social media. This might be a funny one considering that social media is my job. But, consider that part of what makes me an expert here. Social media is great, but being in control of how it impacts you is key to having a healthy relationship with it, and it’s important to understand the impact it can have on you mentally and emotionally. Think about how you can limit it while still enjoying it (if you desire). For me, I keep social media notifications turned off on my phone (and I have for years), that way when I’m away from the computer and enjoy my own time, social media isn’t interrupting me. I can check in on it when I want to or need to, rather than having it bursting into my evening. Do what works for you, whether that’s turning off notifications, removing the apps entirely, deactivating your account for a break, or deleting your account altogether. You’re under no obligation to put energy into social media if it isn’t benefiting you.

I take collagen peptides. I’m not a huge supplement person, but this is one I’ve taken for a couple years and really see benefits from. I usually drink it in the form of agua fresca (click here for my go-to recipe) and love the benefits it provides to my skin, hair, and nails. The brand I use is Vital Proteins, I take their Collagen Peptides and also love their Beauty Water (you can find them at Target and Whole Foods, too). People sometimes ask me for my skincare routine, and although I love good skin care I usually just direct them to Vital Proteins because I think it has had such a huge impact on my skin.

Before and After 2007/2018


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