Sometimes we fall off the wagon with our health and fitness goals.
It's ok. It happens.
Before getting back on track, it's important to maintain perspective, be patient, and not be too hard on ourselves.
There's no use in being critical of ourselves if we had a (long) break from health and fitness. It's time to look forward and get back in the game.
Whether you took a few days off, a week off, or fell to the wayside for a few months here are my go-to strategies for getting back on track.
Clean Up Food Environment
When you are looking to eat healthy and nutrient-dense foods, it's best to eliminate temptations. If you're someone who gets tempted by a cookie or chips, then keep those food items out of sight. You know what they say, out of sight, out of mind.
Don't rely on willpower. Willpower is easily depleted and you don't want to run into a scenario where you just crack.
You can throw out the items, give them to neighbors, or have someone hide them for you so you don't find them.
No point in tempting yourself with foods that might be difficult to avoid.
Focus on High Volume veggies and healthy fats
Particularly, focus on high-volume veggies and healthy fats. These types of foods are great not only from a nutritional aspect but also from a satiety aspect. It's easy to feel sated with a plate of veggies and healthy fats. In terms of healthy fats, my go-to's are avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fish (salmon is my favorite!). I feel full on these things and especially with vegetables, you can load up on as many as you'd like because they're so good for you and it's easy to get full off of them.
As someone who does not snack, I still make sure I have healthy snacking items in my fridge. Washing and prepping veggies like cucumber, celery, and carrots are great for when you want to add on to a meal or nibble on something later on in the day. I also love having nuts or apple slices with nut butter around.
Choose your favorite healthy snack and keep those around!
Sometimes, what you might think of as being hungry could just be thirsty. The 8x8 water rule does not seem to be the general rule of thumb anymore since everyone is different and needs to consume different amounts of water daily.
Dr. Peter Attia has a detailed review of the literature on water consumption. The summary is that:
- The "8 cups a day" recommendation has no scientific basis, as is the case with many of the public health recommendations we treat as sacrosanct.
- The body's hydration needs will vary significantly depending on body type, activity, climate, and what you eat, so adherence to a specific amount irrespective of context doesn't make sense.
- The body is very good at regulating hydration, so simply hydrate when you are thirsty and you should be fine.
- The risk of overhydration is only really applicable at the extreme during endurance activities like a marathon.
Add More Movement
You'd be surprised how much a little bit of extra movement throughout the day adds up. A five-minute walk, a few push-ups, an extra loop around the block, a quick jog-in-place all amount to something at the end of the day. Energy expenditure happens throughout the day as much as you want it to and it does not even have to be in the shape of formal exercise. In addition to your morning workout, extra steps can be achieved without much effort provided that you don't sit at your desk all day. If you find yourself doing a lot of sitting - be it at a desk or on a couch - set reminders and make it a point of moving more frequently. I like to get a warm beverage every hour or so and that serves as a perfect excuse to walk over to the kitchen and refill my cup.
Don't underestimate the power of LISS, low-intensity steady-state cardio, to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. After I do my strength and resistance training, usually in the morning, I hit my step count goal by going on walks and running in place at my desk while reading or checking email. It adds up!
Re-Start with Body Weight
After a workout hiatus, it's a good idea to get back into it with bodyweight exercises. This allows you to focus on form and mobility. Allowing your body to remember the moves and get muscle memory to kick in. The activation pre-workout is where you can really sink into the mind-muscle connection. Doing bodyweight exercises allows us to concentrate on form, mobility, and stability while also activating our strength-building capabilities.
After a few days or even a week of body weight, jump back into weight training.
Take it slow. Don't put pressure on yourself. Trust in the process and keep it consistent. Be patient!