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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).
Girl! This is me today! I was extra indulgent over the weekend. I think I need to get that water going and start cooking. Great tips.
I really needed this. I have let my eating slide over the holidays. It is about time to get back on track for the new year
These are great tips. I know I certainly struggle with sugar myself. It is so hard to avoid as it is in everything. You really have to pay close attention to the labels.
I really need to switch to almond milk for my morning coffee. I am drinking more and more (I blame having three kids) and putting cream in my 3+ cups is really starting to cut into my calorie allotment for the day.
You are so right on about the water. Such a simple thing but I am often guilty of not drinking water. Like, I dont know what my problem is! haha… but, I am trying. Some days I drink gallons and other days just drops.
Story of my life! I loved how you make it seem achievable to make little changes! Great post!
Talia Brooks says
Needed this today! It can be so discouraging sometimes to get back on track after a cheat day. I love the tip about keeping snacks handy
Terri Steffes says
I think sugar should be illegal. Or, that it should be rationed. That’s the only thing that will help me!
I’m in the process of getting back to a healthy lifestyle. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in January 2015, lost 60 pounds, and put back on 50. I’m borderline diabetic again and there’s no way I’m going back. I dusted off my FitBit, my LoseIt! app, and my motivation to get myself in gear!
Eugh been here so many times! these are some fantastic tips and definitely saving for the next time a cheat day turns into a cheat week!
Krystel @ Planning The Magic says
Cutting out eating out is perfect for your diet AND your pocket. It’s just very hard when you can’t cook haha.
This is an awesome article! OMG I really needed this so bad! Thank you!
Love these tips! Drinking more water is always good, but not letting yourself get too down about it is so, so important!
Kristin Cook says
Eating at less is HUGE for me. I usually eat a little healthier when I am home so not only does eating out hurt my wallet but it also hurts my waist-line!
Great suggestions! I think I’ve been on cheat months, not days over here. Time to makes some changes. Never tried Silk in our coffee – will have a taste!
Having predetermined healthy choices for breakfast, lunch, and supper is helpful in not eating just anything that appeals. Buying what you know you will eat and is healthy is a great tip.
This is so funny because I am totally dealing with this right now, My biggest problem is 3/4 of the day I want to get back on track it’s the 1/4 of the day when I have a weak moment that messes me up every time.
Seriously all of these tips are great! I have to eat at home if I want to eat healthy!
Amanda Rosson says
YES to all of these tips!! I was pretty much bedridden for a year and am now trying to get my body back on track. I’ve been doing all of these things to help. You don’t see progress immediately, but all these little things add up 🙂
#1 has been clutch for us! We ate out way too much last year and have spent the first part of this year getting back to eating at home!
David @ Spiced says
This post is spot on! It’s totally ok to have a cheat day now and then as long as are good for the rest of the time. And I agree with you about your coffee. I used to add a bunch of cream and sugar, and I’ve slowly dialed it back, too…and I enjoy it even more now! Thanks so much for sharing these tips! #client
This was such a great reminder and lots of great healthy tips. Thanks for sharing.
This is amazing! I’ve struggled so much since the holidays! Eating out is our biggest downfall. Things get busy and then the pounds start adding up!
Di Hickman says
Love plant based milks. Being vegan they are a staple in our household. I’ve had a triple whammy of vacation, holidays, and another vacation and so to get myself on track I signed up for Golds Gym 12 week challenge. ACCOUNTABILITY is a huge part of staying on track
Samantha Lee says
These are great tips! I’m just now getting back into exercising and eating healthy after the holidays. It takes dedication, but but being healthy is very doable!
Jennifer (JenuineMom) says
I just recently discovered almond milk (like, a week ago) and it’s amazing!! It tastes great and has so much less fat and calories. I’ve gone through three cartons for smoothies already and just stocked up on more now. I didn’t know you could buy an almond milk creamer. I’m going to look for that next!
Tabitha Shakespeare says
These are awesome tips! So practical and doable! I will definitely be applying these in my day to day life!
Omg great advice!!!! I was one who had way to many cheadmt days a few weeks ago. It was definitely hard to get back on track
Barbara Ritzman says
I need to drink more water, most certainly. And I am good about cutting sugar out of my diet.
These are great tips! I need to get back to drinking more water. I always get so caught up in my day and forget.
This is such a nice well thought out post! My boyfriend and I try to frequently make food at home with what we have rather than going out to eat cause not only does it save money but also calories! I don’t think I can give up my hazelnut creamer though LOL.
Courteney Noonan says
I love this post! I feel so much better when I eat out less and drink more water – they’re two of the things I’m striving to put more effort into this year 🙂
Reesa Lewandowski says
I so need this advice! After a weekend of over indulging, I am feeling it! I have been chugging a lot of water for right now!
Dawn McAlexander says
That’s the problem with having cheat days: I usually get discouraged about my diet and don’t want to start back. Thanks for the encouragement and tips. They should both help.
Krystle Cook says
It can feel so hard when you haven’t stuck to your original plan. You can get back on track though!
Robin Rue says
I have cheated on a few diets and it doesn’t feel great. Getting rid of the extra sugars is definitely a key to feeling better.
Keren Charles says
When I cheat, my go-to get back on track tip is to drink more water. I’m glad that you’ve shared some much needed tips. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve been cheating for the past few years LOL! But, I’m going to take everything in baby steps. First I’m going to eliminate sodas and chips. Then I’m going to slowly cut back carbs. Baby Steps 🙂
Agness of Run Agness Run says
Amazing tips, Chelsea! These tips are worth knowing during the holidays!