This past week, I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to visit one of my best friends from college. It was a seriously amazing week of exploring, catching up, riding the T, and eating- mostly eating. Getting back on track from this trip has been a little tricky.
I love food. I’m never not going to love food. My relationship with food is a little complicated and stems from my childhood. Growing up, I never was very disciplined with food. I was never taught to be. I don’t blame this on my parents at all, but I think learning more about nutrition early in my childhood would have been good for me. As a kid, my family ate frozen meals, pizza, tacos, sandwiches, spaghetti. All of these are easy meals for a family of four to afford and prepare. Making these foods more nutritious is easy, but I never wanted to eat healthy. I was a picky eater as a child, and that has kind of stuck with me. I wanted to eat the most tasty, cheesy, indulgent food all the time. Vegetables were pretty much the enemy- I didn’t eat a salad until I was 13 years old!
In my junior year of college, I started changing my habits. I learned a lot about food. I began to care a little more about what was in the food I was consuming and what my body actually needed to function at its best. It’s been two years since I first started changing my lifestyle, and I am still a work in progress.
Living 80 / 20
I don’t think that we should have to give up certain foods to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. I truly believe that it is all about moderation and consistency. It’s about trying to live 80/20. 80% of the time, I aim to eat foods that satisfy me and that I love- but in moderation. If I’m severely craving a cookie, I’ll eat a cookie. I’m literally eating a cookie while writing this blog post! I’ll find a way to make it fit into my daily calories (side note: I know calorie counting is scary and sounds negative, but it’s what helps me at this point. I hope to switch over to intuitive eating in the future when I’m more confident!). 20% of the time, I’ll eat delicious foods that may be over my calories- I’ll treat myself.
Sometimes these treats, “treat meals”, or “treat days” (I prefer not to call them “cheats”!) can last for a whole weekend. In the case of my Boston trip, they lasted 5 days! I don’t feel ashamed at all about it. Food is not something that should cause guilt! Food should be all about fulfillment and joy. It is ok to enjoy food! I ate incredible handmade lobster ravioli, saag paneer with garlic naan, Boston cream pie, a red velvet croissant stuffed with cream cheese frosting, soft serve from Milk Bar, macaroni and cheese served in a skillet, a lobster tail pastry. Everything that I ate was so worth it.
Now I’m back in Cleveland, and it’s time for me to get back on track and not let this trip deter me completely from my goals. Here’s some tips for how to get back on track from an indulgent weekend or vacation!
1. Drink Water
It’s the simplest, most repetitive thing that people say. Drink water! It’s so important for resetting and getting back on track with healthy habits, yet so ignored. When I’m drinking alcohol or eating lots of super salty foods without drinking a good amount of water, it makes the morning after so much worse than it has to be. Water cleanses the body and I also find that it clears the mind, helping me feel more aware and focused. Lemon water is even better! Lemon juice is full of vitamin C and has antioxidant properties that can help give your immune system a boost.
2. Prepare a Healthy Meal
Have some ingredients on hand? Make one of your favorite, nutritious meals to help you reset mentally. My go-to is my avocado toast: two slices of whole grain toast, avocado mash seasoned with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and two over-easy eggs with Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning. You can take out the bread and make this into a salad if you want something more refreshing. It’s nutritious and perfectly proportionate with whole carbs, healthy fats, and protein. Avocado toast isn’t just a trend- it’s a well balanced and satisfying meal that is great for when your body needs a reset!
3. Take a Work Out Class
Or just go to the gym, on a walk, a bike ride, or a run! Exercise has a transcendental power to boost your mood (endorphins make you happy!) and also improve mental clarity. This is something I never realized until I was 20 years old. I always thought exercise was a chore or a punishment, but now I have learned to enjoy and look forward to it. Spin class is what has really helped me come to this realization.
After a weekend of treats, working out is probably the last thing that anyone would want to do. Going to a class can make this much easier. Being in a space with people that have similar goals as you creates a sense of community. The day after I got home from Boston, I went to a St. Patrick’s Day themed class at Harness Cycle in Cleveland. It was one of the funnest classes I have ever taken! It put me in the perfect mindset to be productive for the rest of the day.
Don’t like work out classes? See if a friend wants to exercise with you! Having a buddy always helps!
4. Journal and Forgive Yourself
Maybe your indulgent weekend wasn’t just that. Maybe it was a binge. Or maybe it was something more serious, like a relapse into binge-eating or another disorder. Feeling yourself slip back into old habits can be discouraging. Sometimes we can feel like one night (or a few nights) can erase all the progress that we have made. This is a common anxiety that isn’t true. But sometimes, feeling guilty is inevitable. The sooner you can realize this, the better. Journalling really helps to release the negative thoughts that you might have after over-indulging. Write down how you’re feeling, why you feel that way, how you can make the next time better. If it was a binge, write down your trigger foods and other things that caused the binge. Write down other coping methods you can use if it was stress related or emotionally charged.
If you don’t like to journal, talk to someone. If you have a therapist, talk to them. Is there someone in your life that you trust 100%? Like your best friend, parent, or spouse? Tell them how you are feeling. If you feel embarrassed to tell someone, make a voice memo on your phone and just talk. Let it out!
While coming to these realizations is hard, it is important. An enormous weight will be lifted from your shoulders by releasing your thoughts. It will help you give yourself some grace and stop you from spiraling. It is an act of kindness you can do for yourself.
I definitely took a longggg nap the day that I got back from Boston. I also drank two coffees (this may not seem like much but it is for me, ok!). Even if you go out with your friends and refrain from alcohol, chances are that you’ll still feel gross the morning after. Anyone would after staying up until 4AM! So Sunday is the perfect day to catch up on sleep. Take a nap. Go to sleep early instead of staying up late in bed scrolling on Instagram. The blue light emitted from phones and other devices suppresses the production of melatonin and can disrupt your sleep patterns.
If you do have to use your phone or watch TV before bed for whatever reason, make sure that Night Shift is activated on your phone or invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. You can buy them at Warby Parker and there are cheaper options everywhere, including Amazon!
You’re in Control! You Have the Strength!
With these few things, getting back on track after a period of partying or overeating can be made so much easier. Knowing that you might end up off track is important to keep in mind while trying to live healthier. Having a personal plan for when this happens can make one step back turn into two steps forward. Knowing that the potential weight gain and other consequences aren’t permanent is incredibly empowering. You have the ability make the changes you need and to completely flip one or even seven bad days around! Knowing that you have the power is a priceless and freeing feeling.
If you have any other tips you would like to share about how to get back into a healthy routine, leave a comment below! Thank you so much for reading my little tips for getting back on track. I hope this helped some of you, especially after St. Patrick’s Day weekend!