The holidays are wonderful times to enjoy the little things and take a break from your everyday efforts to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. However, when they are over, we’re often left feeling bloated, lazy, and sluggish.
Whether you fell off your dieting wagon big time or only slightly, taking a break from your typical eating habits and daily exercise regimen can make it hard to pick up where you left off. By focusing on these seven tips, you should be able to shake off the holidays and jump right back into the habits that you know keep you happy and healthy.
Let Go of Guilt
Somewhere along the line, most adults picked up the habit of feeling guilty around food. Deep down, we believe if we eat vegetables and brown rice, we are “good,” and if we indulge in a cookie, we’re “bad.” This way of thinking has countless adverse effects, but one of the most noticeable results is feeling as if we need to be punished for eating “bad.”
The punishments are often:
- Over-exercising, to somehow burn off the calories you consumed over the holiday
- adopting an extremely rigid diet to make up for overconsumption
The problem with over-exercising is the potential to get hurt and a continuation of feeling as if we need to do things to be good, not because we enjoy them. The problem with rigid, restrictive dieting is—it doesn’t work. Sooner or later, your motivation collapses, you binge eat, all your efforts are for naught, and you’re back to feeling guilty.
So, try to let go of any guilt you feel for the way you ate or your lack of exercising over the holidays. You ate yummy food; you will get back to eating a balanced diet and an exercise program because it makes you feel better.
Don’t Do a Cleanse, Just Drink Water
Diet cleanses are essentially just marketing tools playing on the illusion of health and the disturbing relationships we have with food. Whether you’ve read about skinny teas, juice cleanses, or pills, your body doesn’t need to be “cleansed” this way. Normal liver and kidney functions continuously purge the body of toxins naturally.
The only thing a cleanse might get you is a couple lost of kilos of water weight, which ultimately comes right back when normal eating resumes. Instead of wasting money on cleanses, increase your water intake.
Ensuring your body is properly hydrated has lots of health benefits. Specific to cleansing your body: drinking more water does flush more toxins out through the liver and kidneys. Aim for anywhere between three liters and one gallon of liquid per day.
Plan Your Dinners and Your Snacks
Instead of purging your fridge of the holiday leftovers, eat modest servings for lunch and plan your dinners. For most people, failure to plan meals often means stopping at a fast-food restaurant on the way home or calling for pizza. By eating leftovers for lunch and planning your dinners, you ensure at least one of your meals is nutrient-dense and balanced.
Consider also planning a snack for the day, too. Choosing whole foods like apples, bananas, and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers keeps you from grabbing a candy bar or avoiding snacks altogether, leading to excessive hunger and overeating at meals.
Plan one week of dinners and snacks at a time and grocery shop for the supplies you need in one day.
Along with one planned, balanced meal a day, focus on your micronutrients. Vitamins and minerals play a significant role in how we feel, so ensure your days are filled with foods rich in vital vitamins and minerals.
A great way to pack lots of micros into a condensed meal or snack is a smoothie. Make one of your meals or snacks a smoothie packed full of protein, fruits, and leafy greens. You can find tons of unique smoothie recipes on the internet, or you can improvise using the food you have at home. Most smoothie recipes include water or your milk of choice, yogurt, bananas, fruit, and spinach or kale.
In addition to a daily smoothie, get back in the habit of taking your daily vitamins. Often when we take a break from our routines, we also skip our vitamins. While it might not seem like much, you could notice a significant difference in the way you feel when you resume taking your multivitamin.
Get Back to Your Exercise Regimen Sooner Rather Than Later
The more days off from exercising, the less you want to start again. This phenomenon occurs even for the most dedicated gym-goers. Instead of succumbing to the dread and putting off your return to your exercise regimen, get back to it as soon as you can. Suck it up and just go.
Sometimes even just getting out the door and going for a walk is enough to ease back into the routine and remind you that exercising is beneficial to your mind as much as it is to your body.
If you’re getting back to lifting or running, you might want to ease off the weight or distance to ensure you don’t get overly sore, which can contribute to the apprehension. You will pick the habit back up much faster than before.
Focus on Movement
Even if you’re not jumping right back into your heavy lifting or distance running, make an effort to move your body every day. Try:
- taking the stairs
- playing a sport
These are all great ways to make sure you’re raising your heart rate and avoiding being sedentary. Ensuring you move your body through the period between the holiday and return to your normal routine makes it easier to get right back into your healthy habits.
Get Back to Your Sleep Schedule
If you need a big reset, sleep is a great place to begin. We typically stay up later and sleep in when we don’t have work or our normal routines. Sleep is a natural reset, so going to bed at your regular time and waking up when you usually do is a great place to start.
Aim for seven to eight hours a night and wake up at the same time each morning. Getting back to your sleep basics is a great way to reset your routine. Wake on time, then start your morning with your vitamins, a nutrient-dense smoothie, and planned dinners. Before long, you will be back to exercising, eating well, and feeling your best.