“It happens to the best of us,” I told myself gently, while simultaneously feeling bad about how I feel and look after letting all of my good habits slide in recent months.
During the time, I convinced myself that I had good reasons to do so.
“I’ll be OK. I’ll still work out, which is better than nothing.”
“I deserve some slack. I’m selling/ buying homes in two different states, and moving 500+ miles in under two months.”
“I’ve got good genes. The change in diet won’t affect me much.”
While all of that may have been true, I still found myself a month into our relocation from Minnesota to Indiana feeling like, and eating like, garbage.
Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau in the past, or are feeling super low on energy, maybe even irritable, or your cravings have simply gone wild. Perhaps your gut has been sending you signals for months now, yet you continue to ignore them… but deep down, you know it. It’s time to get back on the wagon, and ain’t nobody gonna convince you to do a celery juice cleanse.
Ready to buckle down and get back to balance? Try to adopt these tips back into your life.
1. Nix the Punishment Mentality
Getting back on track does not mean that you’re going to be a drill sergeant with yourself and punish yourself with an insane diet and crazy exercise. While you may lose weight this way, it’s almost definitely going to creep back, creating an unhealthy pattern of gaining and losing, and creating anxiety about your relationship with food.
2. Make a Plan
This one doesn’t even involve you setting the bag of Cheetos down (quite yet). Once you’ve decided it’s time to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle, make a plan, but keep it realistic. What works for some may not work for you, and if it doesn’t work for you, it’s NOT GOING TO WORK. Period.
Here are some ideas of things you can plan out to get back on track:
- Your meals for the week: meal prepping has LOADS of benefits. This doesn’t have to include all three meals, but it certainly can. If you feel you run the risk of eating ice cream for lunch if you don’t have something planned- PLAN IT. Afraid you’re going to grab a donut at breakfast in the break room? Plan to bring a better option into work so you’re not tempted. There’s a saying somewhere along the lines of preparing for success, or you’ll be preparing for failure.
- When you’ll work out: carving out time for yourself is SO important, especially if you’ve been making excuses not to. Whether it’s as simple as committing to an afterwork dog walk, or spending an hour at your beloved yoga studio, getting back into a fitness routine is key. Be kind to yourself- habits take time, too, so if you miss a day or two, recommitt next week. The key is consistency over time with all things.
- What’s on your plate for the week that could deter you from your goals? Be real with yourself- do you have a happy hour with friends planned? For Pete’s sake, keep it! (Who is Pete?) Know that it’s not the end of the world, but consider modifications to accommodate.
3. Hydrate Well
As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended to drink 8- 8oz glasses of water daily, or 1/2 your body weight in fluid ounces of water. In my case, I weigh ~130lbs, so should get ~65oz of water per day.
If you’ve loaded up on garbage food lately- whether it be dehydrating alcohol, sugary desserts, salty snacks- or all of the above- H20 should be your BFF, as water helps to flush the body of the junk it doesn’t need to function optimally.
Do yourself a favor and try to make it actual water, too. Coffee may be water-based, but many people agree* that coffee is a diuretic, therefore does not count towards our hydration for the day.
* If you follow me on Instagram, a recent theme in my stories involved questioning whether coffee (and 2019’s beloved White Claw) were hydrating and counted towards my hydration quota for the day. I did have a few folks with knowledge in the field suggest that coffee and tea weren’t dehydrating enough to be considered such, but all in all, coffee is not as good as plain ole’ water. White Claw, on the other hand? Drink your water.
4. Eat Often
Of course I’m serious. This is a post about things to do to get back on track, and I’m sorry, but an extreme diet- or simply starving yourself- will not do it.
While we live in a world currently (largely) in support of Intermittent Fasting, starving yourself is not the same, and will do you NO good. Here’s the easiest way I can explain it: when you don’t eat, your body acknowledges that it’s starving, and begins to store fat and slow your metabolism. This is all in an attempt for your body to keep you alive because it’s selfish like that! Sadly, when you begin to eat again, your body is more likely to continue to store fat, which can result in weight gain you may not have otherwise experienced.
What will help? Eating a variety of real, whole foods that are high in nutrients. Ask yourself, “does this food fuel me? Or does it just taste good, with no additional benefit?” (I’m thinking about my beloved Cheetos here.) If you’re eating mostly real, whole foods and limiting highly processed garbage, you’re in good shape.
5. Listen to Your Body
My education is not in nutrition, per se, but I’ve done a whole lot of self-study across the years. In part, on a journey to overcome 10 years of wicked disordered eating, and to learn what- and how- to eat again.
I credit some of this body awareness to yoga, but I’ve also learned a lot about what my body responds best to over a lot of trial and error. This is why I struggle in recommending any particular diet to one person, because not all diets work for everyone. Some people respond very well to a plant-based diet, whereas I know many who have tried to adopt one, only to find out their body really didn’t respond well. This is just one example, but there are countless.
When we’re listening to our body and giving it what it’s asking for, and needs, it responds much like a neglected plant finally being cared for properly. If you’ve ever (successfully) revived a dying plant, you get it… and if you don’t, let me just tell you, your plant will almost literally smile, and so will your body.
6. Be Forgiving
It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to creep in when you aren’t feeling your best.
It’s easy to “give up” and eat the whole pie when you’ve “slipped” and had one slice.
It’s easy to start your week off well, and watch it spiral out of control as the week nears its end.
YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.
Check back in with yourself when you have these limiting thoughts, because not a single one of them in true.
I’m a chronic Negative Nancy with myself- but the rest of the worlds biggest cheerleader. You too? Phew. One thing I remind myself (and share with anyone else) is that it’s consistency across time that is key. Forget about your goals and down a whole pizza? Cool, try again tomorrow. Miss a workout? That’s ok, maybe your body needed the rest. You’ll get back on track with your next workout. Take three months off from regular exercise, and healthy meals? You’ll find your way back if you keep returning back.
You are enough, and you’re doing the best you can.
Over to you- what’s worked in your world when getting back into a healthier lifestyle? Do you have any healthy meals or snacks to share with the community? Drop them in the comments below.