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How to get back to being healthy (when you’ve had a few too many cheat days)
We’ve all been there- quite recently I might say. Eating way too many cookies because- you know- the holidays. Skipping a few visits to the gym because, again, the holidays. Either that or life just always tends to get away from us. It usually happens after we’re on a great roll too. Which can make it quite overwhelming when you know you want to “get back on track,” but you feel like you have a long way to go. Today, I’m here to share 6 little ways you can get back to being healthy. They don’t involve anything crazy. Just small lifestyle changes that will leave you feeling better and back on track to a healthier life.
1 | Eat out less
One of the biggest reasons why anyone with good intentions stops to have a cheat day (or week, or month) is simply because things in life start to get away from them. Life gets busy- and stressful- and sometimes the thought of taking the time to stop and make a meal feels like just the thing that might put you over the edge. I totally get that. I also get that eating out isn’t just done out of a necessity to skip the meal-prep all the time. Hey- eating out is fun. But if eating out too often is something that causes you to eat unhealthily too often, then it might be time to cut the problem at the root. By all means, go out and have a burger on the weekends. It’s ok to treat yo’ self once in awhile. Just be sure that “treating” yourself is just that- a treat. If you can eat clean foods 80-90% of the time, you’re well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.
2 | Cook fresh foods
Again, for many this might come down to simply a choice of convenience. But in all reality, keeping carrots or a few heads of broccoli in the fridge, chopping them up, and throwing them in a pan, doesn’t take that much time at all. Neither does putting a chicken in the crock pot at the beginning of the day and taking it out to serve later. Yes, dinner prep can be time consuming, depending on what you’d like to eat. But there are sneaky ways to cut down the prep time so that dinner can be made in a half hour or less. Cutting down prep time usually requires just one simple thing- planning ahead. On Sunday night, it might be a great idea for you to set out the chicken to thaw overnight in the fridge and then chop up a variety of vegetables for the week. Then, come Monday, throw that chicken in the crock pot and let it roast throughout the day. Take it out at dinner and portion it to meet your needs for your meal. Keep the rest in containers in the fridge and use them for lunches and dinners during the rest of the week for various meals. The internet is a library of healthy and delicious meal prep ideas and instructions and all that’s between you and a week of healthy, easy meals is cutting out the time one day to plan ahead and do some prep work.
3 | Drink more water
Sounds simple, but this can actually do wonders with how hungry you feel during the day, how well your body processes the food that you eat, and your overall health in general. There are many times when I feel myself getting that hungry feeling, but I just had a snack not long ago. In those cases, I know that instead of food, my body is actually craving water. It’s a good practice, in general, to drink 8 8oz. glasses of water per day. Doing so will help to curb your appetite, flush toxins from your body, and even improve the look of your skin (source here).
4 | Cut added sugar
From personal experience, this was the single most-important thing I ever did to lose excess weight. When I became pregnant with my son, I gained a healthy amount of weight- and then some. And it didn’t come off right away after he was born either. I would try to make an effort to work out and while I felt like I was feeling better and getting stronger, there was always a stubborn layer of fat that never seemed to take the hint that it was unwelcome. My husband struggled with the same thing. He was much more consistent than I was with working out. He was able to take his lunch break at work and do high-intensity workouts 3, 4, or 5 days a week. He saw some results and definitely gained strength, but really wasn’t seeing much progress towards the weight-loss goals he had in mind.
That is, until one night as we were scrolling through Netflix and trying to decide what show to watch next. We came upon a random documentary that opened our eyes to the real effect that sugar has on our bodies and how drastically it can affect weight gain or loss. So, the next morning, we started keeping track of our daily sugar intake. Although I learned that the DRI for a woman was only 25 grams, I set my daily limit at 40 grams, which is a lot harder to not go over than it may sound. So, every meal I ate for the next couple weeks, I read labels and kept track of how much sugar was in the food I was eating.
Now one thing Josh and I agreed upon was that we could have as much fresh fruit as we wanted. We learned- from the same documentary- that fresh fruit often contains a good amount of fiber that helps the natural sugar found in fruit to be broken down and processed after consumption. On the other hand, fruit juice contains 0 fiber (and often times added sugar) and will often be stored because the sugar is being consumed too quickly to be broken down and processed.
Since we started reading a lot more labels at that point, we gradually started to make changes in the food we bought- like tomato sauces; some tomato sauces have very little sugar, some have A TON added in. We never needed to cut out tomato sauce altogether, just to find one that was healthier. I also decided to make some hard decisions when it came to my coffee drinking habits. I liked it light and sweet with a flavored creamer and teaspoon of brown sugar in every cup. But the funny thing is, once my habits started changing, my appetite started to change too. Pretty soon my light and sweet coffee started to taste way too sweet and I stopped enjoying it the way I used to. That was when I decided to give almond milk a try- unsweetened almond milk. I found that, mixed with my coffee, I couldn’t sense much of a difference between this lactose-free, sugar-free milk and what I had been used to drinking. I even began to appreciate the added “nutty” taste it gave to my coffee.
To all those looking to “healthy-up” their coffee, I sincerely recommend trying Silk milk or creamer. Their unsweetened almond milk- original or vanilla- has 1 gram or less of sugar. And their vanilla creamer only has 4 grams! Which is pretty amazing for a creamer. I find mine at WalMart in the dairy aisle, but keep in mind that Silk is going to be changing the look of their packaging soon!
5 | Keep healthy (but tasty) snacks on hand
There’s no point in having healthy snacks in the house if you’re not going to eat them anyway. Avoid buying any kind of sugary or overly-processed snack, that way when you’re hungry at home, you only have healthy options to choose from. A good tip to avoid buying unhealthy snacks is to never go grocery shopping hungry. But, like I said, there’s no point in having a healthy snack in the pantry if the thought of eating it makes you queasy. I like to have healthy snacks in the house that satisfy both salt and sweet cravings. Like oranges, bananas, or berries to tame my sweet tooth and popcorn or nuts to curb my salt cravings.
6 | Don’t let the setback get you down
One of the biggest hindrances I face when trying to make healthy changes, is my own mental battle that comes with it. It’s often so easy to believe lies like, “Well, I already had one, it won’t matter much if I have another” or, “It’s going to take so much work to get back to where I used to be, it’s just not worth it to start today.”
I once heard someone say that eating healthy with the occasional “cheat day” is like having a cell phone and accidentally dropping it on the ground. You’re not going to say, “Oh well,” and then continue to stomp on it and break it worse. You’re going to pick it up again and pick up where you left off. See, when you have a setback to the healthy lifestyle you aspire to have, the best thing you can do for yourself is pick your chin up, and start again. There’s no use being discouraged that you’ve gained weight or maybe can’t push yourself during your workout as you used to be able to. The only thing you can do to fix that is to start again and be consistent. Remember, we’re talking about a lifestyle, not a diet.
Got any tips of your own for getting back to a healthy lifestyle? Share your thoughts, concerns, and favorite health tips in the comments below and share this post with your accountability buddy! (Or your mom, that works too).