Is my healthy routine ruined?
We know the story: It’s Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Easter or a wedding or, you get it), and you piled your plate high with stuffing and sweet potato pie and mac and cheese and fresh rolls and tons of gravy, and drank some wine, and ate cheese and crackers before dinner, and finished things off with pumpkin pie and whipped cream and maybe a piece of pecan, too.
You had to undo the top button on your pants and skip your workout the next morning because you still felt full.
You might as well give up and eat a bunch of junk today, too, right?
Just because you have an off day – and especially an indulgent family occasion like Thanksgiving or Christmas – doesn’t mean you should call the whole thing quits. It’s possible to get back on track (and not get derailed in the first place).
FitTrack’s Head of Fitness Programming, Evan Lee, says the best strategy is to get ahead of the game. First, take a look at your calendar, and plan for upcoming events. Then set concrete courses of action to keep you attuned to your goals as the special day approaches.
Step on the scale, eat healthy meals, get your workouts in. Then, when the big day rolls around, you can indulge without guilt.
“You free yourself to enjoy the day and to be fully present with those around you,” says Lee.
Good and Bad Foods
A pet peeve of Lee’s is labeling foods as “good” and others as “bad,” making particular food off-limits – and setting ourselves up for feeling “bad” if we indulge.
“Everything in moderation,” says Lee. “If we’re driving for a sustainable lifestyle, we know we shouldn’t always be eating fast food, for example. But if we have it on a rare occasion, then we shouldn't feel bad about it.”
He said the FitTrack smart scales and new MyHealth app are helpful ways to remind you that you’re still on the right track, despite treats, special occasion meals, and more. “The food scanning feature makes tracking foods way easier. It helps you see how nutrient-dense your foods are, and it’s easy to see what you’re missing.”
Shifting your focus away from simply looking at how many calories you’re eating and toward the awareness of the macro- (carbs, fats, protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that your calories are composed of is another meaningful change. You become more concerned about the nutrition your food is providing, rather than obsessing about a certain number of calories.
Step on the scale
When big occasions are coming up, continue to step on your smart scale every day. You don’t need to be analyzing the data constantly, but it brings awareness and understanding to how you’re doing, targets you may or may not be hitting, and more. “It gives you a data point of your life and lifestyle, and how that impacts your overall health,” says Lee.
Allow one day
“It’s not these big life events that are impacting your health,” says Lee. Instead, he says what often happens around the holidays is you see that Thanksgiving, for example, is on Thursday, and you say to yourself, ‘well, this week is a write-off.’ So maybe on Monday, you get take-out, and maybe again on Wednesday because you’re busy, and you don’t bother working out all week, and you stop weighing yourself because now you’re out of your routine.
And then Thanksgiving comes, and you indulge (as you should be allowed to do!), but then you feel guilty, so you eat poorly for the next few days. You think, “Thanksgiving ruined me!” and you continue in those unhealthy habits. Before you know it, you’ve put on five pounds and feel awful because of it.
“But the real story is, you allowed that one event to derail all your hard work and consistency,” says Lee.
Instead, maintaining your routine before and after a big event gives you the freedom to enjoy indulgence. “You can be present and recognize that holidays are a special day to celebrate with the people you love.”
Getting back on track
So you spent the week of Thanksgiving completely off your routine, and you’re having a hard time finding the motivation to get back to it. Don’t fret! Here are Lee’s steps to get back on track:
- Weigh yourself each day: Stepping on your scale keeps you accountable and helps you to realize, ‘when I make this decision, this is the outcome.’
- Take one step in the right direction: Choosing to do some jumping jacks or running on the spot during a commercial break or eating a healthy breakfast may not seem like a big deal, but they’re positive steps when making poor choices is often easier.
- Celebrate small wins: If you’ve had a tough or challenging week, sticking to even a few of your healthy behaviors is cause for celebration. Don’t ignore your efforts! Acknowledge your positive choices.
- Build on that momentum: Let that one positive step lead to a second and a third and so on. Training your brain is a real thing, and you’re helping re-establish healthy routines with simple, small changes.
- Talk to yourself: Yep. Have an internal conversation, reminding your brain that your future self will thank you for taking small steps in the right direction. “No one wants to exercise all the time. Even I want to ignore it sometimes,” says Lee. “But after I push myself to workout, I’m always happy I did it.” Remind yourself of the energy boost and the endorphins that come with exercise, and talk yourself into moving.
- Make an emotional connection: Connect your health goals to what is meaningful to you, and then honor and value yourself enough to give your body what it needs.
- Rely on the app: The workout programs in the MyHealth app are designed for specific outcomes, giving us the structure we need to succeed. “It provides the framework to build a healthy schedule around,” says Lee. It also keeps you accountable.
“There will always be Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc.,” says Lee. “But if we build and strengthen healthy habits, we create a sustainable lifestyle, and we can enjoy special occasions without them causing a complete derailment of our health journey.”