Every day we are bombarded with tips about how to “stay lean”, “grow a booty” or “get fit in four weeks”, and while these all sound fantastic, Ariel Kaplan (@arielerinkaplan), better known as Lisa Atwood on The Saddle Club and Imogen Willis on Neighbours, says she’s “come to learn that none are the magic ticket to true health or happiness”.

We asked our #instacrush (oh did we mention she’s also a singer and dancer?) to share her advice on how to balance the daily squeeze:

In my late teens, I really took healthy eating and exercise to the extreme, which left me very unwell, both mentally and physcially (I’ve shared that story on my Insta here). After many years of heartache, I finally reached a place where I realised that health is not just about having perfect abs or only drinking green smoothies. It’s about learning to treat your body with love and respect, and realising that your version of health will always be different from someone else’s.

Here are six key things I learned on my path to a truly healthy lifestyle.

Carbs won’t kill you

Carbs are our main source of energy, fueling our brain and our body. Scared of carbs? Don’t be. It’s about being smart with your carb of choice. Reassess the types of carbs you’re having—go for protein-rich quinoa over nutrient-void white bread. 

Change up your exercise routine

I used to run at the exact same speed for one hour every day on the treadmill. Never more, never less. HOW!? Now, I do boxing, spin, sprint training, pilates, kettlebell training, F45 and everything else under the sun. Not only do I never get bored, I’ve become so grateful for all the different things my body can do! 

SLEEP!

I go to bed at around 9pm every single night and have zero shame about it; I know if I don’t get at least 7–8 hours I just don’t function at my best. You will be shocked at how good you feel if you ensure you’re getting enough shut-eye. 

Eat that dessert

The amount of times I restricted myself from eating a certain dessert or unhealthy meal, only to go and binge on it later is off the charts. I have learnt my lesson: if you really want something, just eat it. It ain’t gonna kill you. Of course, I’m not talking about eating a whole cake to yourself every night, but life’s too short to refuse a piece of choccy. 

Don’t use exercise as a punishment

If you do have that piece of choccy (or 12) and find yourself feeling a bit guilty, don’t try to “run it off”. It doesn’t work like that, and just creates a terrible attitude towards exercise. Just get up the next morning and return to your normal routine, without the side serving of guilt. 

Comparison is the thief of joy

By far the most important tip on this list. It’s way too easy to compare yourself to others, especially with social media shoving the “perfect body” down our throats. I spent so long trying to achieve an unattainable version of “perfection” and ignored all of the amazing blessings I already had in my life. So as the saying goes, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”.

Health is not a one-size-fits-all; to me, health is waking up in the morning knowing that you’re going to do everything in your power to be the best possible version of you. From there, the opportunities are endless…