GETTING BACK ON TRACK: RESUMING YOUR HEALTHY LIFESTYLE AFTER THE HOLIDAY NEGLECT
If you are anything like half of the world’s population, you will need a plan if you desire to get back on track with your healthy lifestyle once the holidays are over.
Most of us, even when we follow healthy eating habits for the rest of the year, tend to overindulge ourselves during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Most of us start mid-December and don’t stop until New Year’s Day.
As a result of this, we gain a little more weight than we intend to, and then we start to feel miserable for not sticking with our diets.
This happens to the very best of us. Some people that have followed a healthy lifestyle for a very long time are so much better at limiting their holiday indulgences. However, even they still eat and drink more than they usually do during the holidays.
A biological reason
The challenge that we face is that once we start eating all of those delicious holiday treats, it can be hard to quit them and get back on track with our healthy lifestyle. And get this; this is not a question of your willpower failing you.
What you might not yet know is that there is an actual biological reason that this challenge confronts so many people. Let’s break this down:
The first time that you eat a treat let’s say chocolate cake, your brain’s reward center gets activated, and your body releases a rush of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that conveys the feeling of pleasure. This increases your feeling of reward.
If you, however, continue to eat this chocolate cake or other foods high in sugar, salt and fat, your dopamine receptors become less responsive. You will not feel quite the same level of satisfaction as the first time, so you will need to eat a whole lot more of these kinds of food to gain the same level of satisfaction.
This means that if you don’t make an actual plan to start eating healthier after the holiday season, your desire for high sugar, fat, and salt foods will continue. As this desire increases, the amount needed to satisfy you will also continue to increase.
You, therefore, need to give your body a break, for it to reboot itself and once again be okay with an occasional treat if you’re trying to reach and maintain a healthy lifestyle again.
You, therefore, need more than willpower and a New Year’s resolution to get back on track once you have overindulged during the holidays.
It would be best if you had a plan to eat healthier, and here are some tips to help you get started:
Tip 1: Get over the guilt
The damage is already done, so get over the guilt. Acknowledge that you got off track, then make a concerted move to get back on track. Beating yourself up over and over again will only delay your weight-loss efforts.
Tip 2: Don’t get on the scale immediately
Due to bloating and water retention following overeating, the number on the weighing scale is usually not very accurate and is often a poor reflection of the actual body weight. Additionally, one reason to avoid weighing yourself immediately after the holidays is because of the emotional stress that the scale number may cause. Wait for let’s say a week before you check your weight.
Tip 3: Be okay with being hungry
Most of us will do anything and everything to never feel hungry. To beat overeating, you will need to come to terms with the idea of being hungry every once in a while. It will help if you let go of the need to the full and comfortable all of the time. For example, try going to bed just a little bit hungry, and you will soon notice that this doesn’t mean that you will wake up hungry. And the beautiful thing is that your body adjusts to the new normal after a couple of days until you feel entirely satisfied with less.
Tip 4: Get enough sleep
We make irrational judgment calls when we lack sleep. The odds are that you didn’t get enough sleep over the holidays because of the excitement. Now that that is all over try and get between seven and none hours of sleep a day. This way, you will have less need for caffeine or sugar pick-me-ups.
Tip 5: Go grocery shopping
When you plan meals by making a list and going grocery shopping for items, you have no excuse for continuing to neglect your diet.
Tip 6: Pack your lunch
Don’t be tempted to go out to lunch if you work outside the home, as this may cause you to take in extra calories that your body does not need. Instead, get up a few minutes earlier so that you can plan and make a healthy lunch and snacks for the day. Even if you work from home, it’s a good idea to portion out lunch and snacks in the morning.
Tip 7: Pack snacks too
One mistake rookie dieters make is to skip meals to avoid calories. Avoiding snacks completely will only make you very hungry that you eat a huge amount of food later on. Rather, try healthy snacking, which promotes weight loss by managing hunger, stabilizing your blood sugar, and preventing binges. Choose snacks such as apple slices, almonds, baby carrots, whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt, and berries and nuts.
Tip 8: Drink a lot of water
Odds are, if you have been eating so much food, you will fill a void if you decide to cut down on your intake. A great tip is to replace the food with water. Not only will it make you feel full, but it will also help you with detoxification, and will boost your immune system and support digestion while improving your complexion.
Tip 9: Eat more vegetables
Sit down and plan your meals, and make sure to include a lot of vegetables. This is because they are high in nutrition and fiber, and the fiber keeps you feeling full while being lower in calories. For example, 100 calories of broccoli will keep you fuller than a 100-calorie cookie.
Tip 10: Don’t forget exercise, but don’t overdo it either
Now is the time to resume your exercise if you stopped. Do not, however, overdo it since killer workouts can lead to burnout and injury. As much as you can, jump right back into your regular exercise routine.
You can also change it up a little to prevent boredom and to challenge your body. If you’re a walker, incorporate intervals by changing up speed and inclines. You can also try a new sport or fitness class.
You can also sign up for a physical challenge that takes you a little outside your comfort zone.