What to Do After the Holidays to Get Back on Track

It’s okay if you missed my first blog on how to stay on track with your health goals this holiday season, or even if you just tried your best this season and it didn’t work out. No worries. Here is how you can get right back on the wagon!

Learn from it and be kind to yourself!

Don’t be too hard on yourself, since now you know better for next time! Some of the most transformational cleanses or great starts to a health or fitness goal occurred right after I had a very unpleasant experience with overeating, indulging in something that did not sit well with me, and so on. I simply kept that emotion in my mind and repeated to myself several times: “This is really good motivation to stick to my health goals, because I am experiencing how I do not wish to feel anymore, and it is very unpleasant!” Use that mantra as an initiative, and not a punishment. The good news is that feeling bad about yourself and being hard on yourself will only slow down your progress, so it is actually better (and feels better) to be nicer to yourself and to learn from it.

Decrease portion size.

The first step to eating the proper amount and losing weight is to cut the portion size down. Someone had mentioned to me that using a smaller plate and starting off with a smaller portion size can trick the mind into thinking you have eaten a lot more than you have. Psychologists have done studies showing that if you eat while distracted, or serve yourself from a large platter and onto a large plate, you are more likely to overeat. You don’t have to get this crazy, but I have seen health books that have proposed eating with a smaller fork or even chopsticks to slow you down! It's all about playing games with your mind.

Every little bit counts.

Taking on too lofty of a goal can see daunting, so start small! Do you want to start walking a few minutes after meals? Eat a little less? Add more veggies? Subtract some carbs? Eat half of the dessert portion? Setting smaller and specific goals might work moreso for you if you like to work your way up to larger goals instead of going straight cold turkey. However, some people like drastically changing their habits and having things be very black and white. You can decide which category you fall under!

Try out many tactics, but don’t get discouraged.

In my experience, I have had to try many different things to find what worked best for myself. I also had to observe what my tendencies are; for example, I am the type of person that can have one bite of a cookie and be fine. Some people will either not have the cookie, or if they do have some, they want to eat the whole bag. Be patient with yourself and see what works for you! Ask people that have successfully completed similar goal to your own what has worked for them, and then, try those tips out for yourself. It can save you a lot of time and frustration to simple ask people who have already gone through it what they did. I have actually met and became close friends with people this way, because we bonded over the common interest of bettering ourselves. Also, keep in mind that whatever worked for you in the past may not always work for you in the future! Instead of getting frustrated, take this as a time to really listen to your body and get creative. We are constantly changed and growing, and our habits and tendencies will likewise do the same!

Get creative with your workouts and activities.

You might not be able to do the entire workout routine you want to, but you can always switch it up and work up to it. There are numerous YouTube videos or videos you can google for a quick workout. There are also the common body weight exercises available to you: squats, push ups, burpees. I am not too proud to admit that I have succumbed to lifting furniture or other house hold items because I had to work with what I had (dogs, babies, cans, and many more). Go sledding... Join the kids in whatever they’re doing... Propose a family walk. It is both pro-quality time and health-centered, so how can you go wrong?

Intermittent fasting for weight loss.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) has been proven to promote weight loss, digestive health, and even longevity. Harvard Health Publishing stated: 

“IF makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flours and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there. Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight, then, if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat stores.” (Tello 2018)

Yes, yummy food is addictive, but so is feeling good! So, don’t fret! The longer you adopt these good habits, the better you will feel. Once you know what it is like to feel good, such as when you are eating less, exercising more, eating more mindfully, etc., it will be hard for you to go back, since you want to keep feeling this way. It is almost like your body becomes more “sensitive” to rich, sugary, and fatty foods the healthier you eat, so it serves as a very quick and sensitive feedback loop. You may have once been able to eat that whole pizza, but now, if you eat even a few slices, your body will scream right back at you! See this as an act of self love, not as a punishment. It is very important to re-frame your perspective of your healthy habits.

I learned from Dr. Barry Taylor, ND during his 21-Day "Love Your Body" Cleanse, that if you frame goals in a positive and abundant language instead of a negative and restrictive language, it will be much more pleasant and easy to follow through with those goals. For example, use a positive-spun phrase, such as, “I want to eat a diet rich in green vegetables that are packed with nutrients to fuel my body to do all the wonderful things I enjoy doing,” instead of using one with a negative connotation, like “I can't eat cake, cookies, ice cream, even though I enjoy them, because my diet won’t allow it and I can’t eat anything I want." Write down your own statements, and try to identify which perspective you are coming from and how you might be able to rephrase them. Try it below in your phone or on a piece of paper now! 

Visualize the food fueling your body.

One of my best friends Tiffany O’Rourke gave me this wonderful advice: "As you eat the healthy food, just picture all the cells in your body jumping up and down like they’re jamming to some great music and thoroughly enjoying themselves." It sounds goofy, but this made me laugh! You can even jump up and down smiling while telling yourself to think this way. This is a decent representation of what is actually going on in the body. As you eat healthy and nourishing whole foods that your body recognizes, it happily and readily utilizes them. Healthy foods send good signals to all of your cells because it is getting the exact fuels it needs. That is why you feel so much better after a savory, healthy meal as compared to eating a whole chocolate cake lathered in rich, creamy icing. Get excited about supporting your body and loving it! Your body will thank you later!