We’ve all been there at some point. You manage to have the perfect healthy lifestyle. You eat a good, balanced diet, you move your body every day, you are relaxed, life is good. Until one day… STRESS happens. You gotta work some extra hours, the kids get sick, your car breaks down, you go through a fight with your partner. The list goes on and on. The solution? Well, there are plenty of GOOD solutions. We’ll talk today about the one we choose far too often even though it’s far from good: FOOD. Chocolate, pizza, pasta, chips, ice cream or whatever else you prefer. Unfortunately, contrary to what they say, chocolate is not the solution for everything. At the end of it all, when life gets back to normal, all you want is to get back on track.
Of course, there’s no one size fits all. This is how I get back on track. I know there are others out there. If you’ve read my story with binge eating disorder you know my background. You also know my thoughts on what a perfect diet should be all about. To get back on track for me is more than just diet and exercise. It’s equally about forgiveness, giving myself grace, loving myself and having a balanced approach.
Cleaning up your diet
Like it or not, after a long period of eating unhealthy foods, sometimes we need a bit of detox. I never go on a juice diet, not even for a day, because I know that kind of restriction will send me straight to a binge. However, I do like to include as many fruits and veggies as I can, maybe even go into a “Paleo” kind of day. Meaning I’ll take out everything processed and just go with natural foods – fruits, veggies, meat and eggs.
I like to start my day with a green smoothie. Lately, my favorite has been this spinach orange smoothie. You can switch the coconut water for normal water or even for coconut or almond milk. I like to mix it up depending on what I have on hand. It’s delicious and it was great for winter as we had some really good quality oranges here.
For lunch I’ll usually go with a big salad with baked/roasted sweet potatoes and some protein (usually some white fish because it’s my absolute favorite). For dinner I’ll either have the exact same thing, or depending on how I feel I might cut out the sweet potato or the meat and go vegan. Finally, for my snacks, in winter I chose either apples or oranges and nuts (cashews usually). The other seasons allow me to vary things a bit more, but it’s always fruits and/or nuts.
I never count calories on detox days, I just listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry, then stop when I’m full. If the bad eating period was long, I’ll try to stick with this type of diet for at least a week. Of course, I’ll switch up the protein sources, the smoothie and even add an omelette for breakfast. It’s a type of diet that allows me to easily eat out and continue enjoying life. I try to avoid heavy sauces and dressings, or at least have them on the side.
It’s important to never feel restricted. I know I’ve said it a hundred times on this blog. But the internet is still so full of restrictive diets and so many women choose them, that I feel the need to keep saying it over and over again. In a scenario where you try to get back on track, where you are trying to combat the side effects of days or weeks of junk food it’s important to not feel restricted. Clean your diet enough to combat those side effects. Maybe you’re like me and your skin starts breaking out from too much sugar. Or you get acid reflux from fried foods. Start by taking out all processed foods to detox a bit. Maybe take a probiotic. Then slowly reintroduce some of those foods if you enjoy them.
Get back on track with your exercise routine
When life gets too busy to handle, we tend to give up our exercise routine. While I don’t recommend this, because I’ve tested on myself how beneficial working out is when you’re stressed, I know sometimes it happens. And sometimes you truly are just too tired or too busy to get more than 5 minutes of stretching. And all your good progress goes away. I love this article about “detraining” and as it breaks down nicely how much time it takes for your fitness progresses to be lost.
Now of course it also depends for how long you’ve been training before you took the break. If you’ve only been working out for 2 weeks and then took a 1 week break, chances are you lost the progress, because well…2 weeks don’t allow you to see much progress anyway. But if you’ve been working out for a 6 months or even 1+ years you can start applying the rules in the article I mentioned. That is, you won’t lose your progress in one week, it will take a month or more to start loosing strength and endurance.
If you are in any of the cases where you lost some of the progress, starting a bit slower is a good idea. Use lower weights than the last time you were at the gym. Run a smaller distances and at a slower pace. If you take group classes, try those for beginners. If it’s too easy, awesome! You can increase intensity the next time. Better to feel like you wasted one day with an easier workout, than get an injury!
Feed your soul
Something often overlooked when talking about how to get back on track, is feeding your soul. We are tempted to always think about the physical aspect of our lives. But especially after a stressful period, taking care of our soul is just as important. Pray, meditate, quite your mind and be grateful for all the good things in your life. And it doesn’t have to be only spiritual. It doesn’t have to be spiritual at all if you don’t want to. Go to the spa, read a good book, lay in bed, or outside on the balcony and listen to your favorite music.
Allow the stress to truly leave your body. Relaxation is just as important to a healthy lifestyle as food and exercise are. Find peace, happiness and gratitude in the small things. Give thanks for getting through a stressful time in your life. Let go of the worries of what’s to come. Let go of the anger for your messed up lifestyle. You’ve made it! You won! Whatever the outcome of that period, you made it out. It’s why you’re here, reading a blog post about getting back on track. Maybe the outcome was not what you expected. Maybe you still have lingering wounds in your heart. Or maybe there’s still work to be done.
Whatever it is, let it all go. Even if only for an hour, or a day or ideally a weekend. Be happy in this moment. Be grateful for coming this far. Know that if things are not OK right now, they will be. You are strong enough and you can do it! So get back on track by believing in yourself.