Let's be honest...we've all been there. Stuck in the "I've been so good, let me just treat myself" cycle. One day turns into two -- two turns into three, etc etc. You beat yourself up about not staying on track so much that you resent any form of proper nutrition and routine. Your whole life becomes a "it's just one more dinner out" mentality. Well guess what? You're not alone. And guess what else? There IS a better way.
Let's talk 80/20. The concept of 80/20 is essentially a simplified way of talking about balance and moderation. It's an extremely important part of health (and kind of everything else in life, too), and without learning to flex your moderation muscle... you simply won't succeed in a long-term health journey. When we preach 80/20 though, it also leaves you that 20% to be flexible and enjoy your life. Where we often go wrong has a lot to do with taking that 20% and turning it into 40-50% of our time and then getting angry with ourselves for the lack of progress/results. Setting realistic expectations is SO important-- it's okay to enjoy yourself, but don't hop on the scale the day after a lavish dinner and expect to see weight lost. That, my friend, is setting yourself up for failure and a perfect example of negative reinforcement.
So how do we change it? First things first, we aim to change our mindset on health and fitness. These things aren't a punishment, they are a GIFT. We are lucky to be able to work on them. The healthier you are the better you feel and the more you can experience-- and isn't the whole goal to truly LIVE? Health gives that to you. So why do we look at it as a punishment? As something negative? Let's change that.
Second- get brutally honest with yourself. This step is really important. Sit down with your calendar and be pickier about when you do decide to go out to eat. Every birthday, holiday, event, or Friday night doesn't qualify as a special occasion! And remember; you can go out and make healthy choices. That doesn't have to equal deprivation. Going out to eat once a week and over-eating by thousands of calories can offset a nearly perfect week! And while balance is definitely important, there is really never a reason to forget about your health completely-- even when you are out to eat.
Here are some of our "health hacks" for your next social event or holiday:
We have heard the story time and time again....
You were doing SO well on your diet until that time of the year rolled around. You were going to the gym regularly and feeling great, but now you are "too busy" and "don't have time" to eat right or exercise enough. That's a silly excuse, and it always has been. If anything, the holidays should be an excuse to help keep you ON TRACK.
Being around our families and friends and celebrating together can be a wonderful thing. But one day shouldn't be enough to undo a routine. Our biggest trouble happens when we miss a month or two of healthy living, and THAT can cause some regression. So this year... let's prepare and stay on top of our health before, during, and after the holidays using some of these tips!
1. Get into your healthy routine NOW.
Start the new exercise program, make healthier choices when planning your food for the week, start meal prepping.. whatever you need to change, change it now! Don't wait for after the holidays, or the new year. Carry the healthy change with you THROUGH the holidays, don't wait until after. You don't need a new year to start working towards a new you!
2. Make exercise and fitness a PRIORITY,
even when you're busy.
Staying on track and keeping your body in a healthy routine can make a huge difference when it comes to consuming more calories during the holiday season. Remember that when you build a solid foundation of lean muscle, your metabolism functions at a higher rate.
AKA your body can put those extra calories to better use building you some MUSCLES!
A reminder that consistent doesn't meant PERFECT, remember to set realistic goals during holiday and busy times.
3. Plan healthy snacks and alternatives.
If you know you will be eating out or with family one night, make sure to plan some healthy snacks for earlier in the day. Keep yourself on track before and after the splurge. One meal cannot undo all of your progress, and you don't gain fat from just ONE MEAL. Just make sure you stay consistent overall and get right back on track the next day. Remember... you can still make healthy choices even when eating out! Opt for foods high in protein and nutrients, select whole foods whenever possible, eat your veggies, drink water, and go for a walk after dinner!
4. Avoid beverages HIGH in calories and sugar!
This is a BIG one!! Most people drink a few beers, wine, soda, and other beverages super high in calories during the holidays... not realizing that you are DRINKING more macronutrients/calories than you are even eating every day. This is where things start to get out of control. Try swapping the beer or wine for water or seltzer water. (or alternate 1-for-1) This will save you a whole ton of calories (which you can happily EAT instead!).
5. Keep the candy/holiday snacks
OUT of the HOUSE when possible.
We all know it's hard when Halloween comes around and theres extra bags of candy in the house, or during Christmas when there are tons of cookies laying around. Anytime something is IN THE HOUSE, it will become a MILLION TIMES HARDER not to eat it. Make it easier on yourself and don't keep that stuff laying around the house. Bring it to your workplace, kid's school, friend/family's house, wherever you need to. Trust me, it will be easier to avoid temptation when it isn't around.
Michelle and Phil are NASM Master CPT's with a combined 30+ years of experience in the fitness industry. They each have numerous specialties and have dedicated their lives to helping people become their best selves.