How many times have you uttered the words “I need to get back on track with my diet/exercise/healthy routine”? It sounds like a perfectly natural thing to do if you’ve been out of balance due to a change in your routine. Summer holidays (or ANY type of holiday) can throw us off our regular schedule. We tend to eat differently, we stop working out, we stay up late, and/or we drink too much alcohol.
Let’s first discuss what the phrase “getting back on track” really means. What are you “on track” to? For most people, it’s a track to health, weight loss, muscle gain, or a combination of those things. Getting back on track essentially means that you’ve deviated from your diet plan, your fitness plan, or both. The entire concept is often built on the fact that we feel guilty for what we’ve been doing while on holiday.
But should we? Absolutely not! First of all, no one can diligently follow the same routine forever. We’re not robots! And secondly, it’s actually healthy and good for our body and mind to take a break, to let loose, to relax. What would happen if we just changed our perspective slightly on the phrase “get back on track”. If we think about it as simply returning to our daily lives, without attaching any morality to it, think about how much better that would feel! Our culture makes us believe that if we’re not constantly in pursuit of health and fitness in some capacity, we’re lazy and somehow ‘bad’.
Pursuing health through improving our diets and lifting weights is a wonderful thing! It really can make us feel our best. We gain confidence, we sleep better, we improve bone density, we can manage and prevent diseases. It’s amazing! But attaching morality to it, feeling like a bad person if we don’t, and a good person if we do, is not healthy. That’s the kind of thinking that gets us into trouble.
So when you do need a break, whether it’s a planned holiday, overwhelm from a crazy work schedule, having a baby, or ANYTHING in-between, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You don’t need a reason or an excuse to take time off. Practice being OK with it, and when you’re ready, when the time is right, you’ll find your way back to a routine that works for you.
So with that thought in mind, here are 7 things that I believe can help us return to a sense of balance when our holiday/hiatus has ended. These things are all intended to support the body in a gentle way, letting go of the need for unnecessary extremes.
- Let go of any stress surrounding what you did or didn’t do while on holidays, and most importantly, don’t feel guilty! The worst thing you can do is ruin all your fun memories by watering them down with a hefty dose of guilt. It will just make the process of getting back to routine that much harder. Go easy on yourself and accept that you made those choices and it’s now in the past. Move forward and ease yourself back into your regular routine. OR, create a new one! Sometimes a hiatus happens because we’re BORED of our routine. If that’s you, don’t let guilt send you back to the routine you left, try something different!
- Don’t overdo it with a hardcore plan the moment you’re back from holidays. This means don’t go on a crash diet while simultaneously hitting the gym twice a day to make up for all the sitting, eating, and drinking you may have done. As hard as it may feel, just get back to your regular workout schedule and return to eating as you were before you left for vacation. Leave the juice cleanses and “detox diets” alone!
- Chances are your glycogen levels are fully stocked and you’ve got plenty of carbohydrates to run on. You might want to use that to your advantage when it comes to your workouts. Choose big compound exercises that require a lot of fuel such as deadlifts, squats, and lunges in your first workout back. Or you might want to try some short burst HIIT type movements to really get the metabolism fired up. There’s nothing like a good round of burpees or box jumps to use up excess sugar floating around your blood stream! Just remember, if it’s been awhile since your last workout, don’t push too hard.
- If your digestive system is a bit sluggish, you may want to boost yourself up temporarily with a few supplements. Some of my favourites include ginger or peppermint tea, apple cider vinegar, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. After consuming certain foods and alcohol in excess, we might need a bit of support while our systems return to normal.
- When it comes to normalizing your digestive system after a holiday, it will also help to focus on getting in as many whole foods as possible. Don’t think “diet”, just make sure you get in some lean protein sources, lots of green veggies, and maybe limit the processed and sugary foods for a while.
- Water is another key component of getting our systems back into balance. Water can help support our detoxification pathways to assist in flushing out any lingering toxins from our indulgences. Aim for around 8-12 cups per day, depending on your size and activity level.
- And lastly, sleep. Most likely you stayed up later than normal, slept in late, and are now struggling to get up and get moving again. The best thing is to ease back into it. Go to bed a little earlier each night, and set the alarm a bit earlier each morning, until you’ve reached the time you’re used to. Try not to shock the system by going from late nights to early mornings immediately. If your schedule allows, make this transition slowly. If you struggle with falling asleep, turn off all devices and reduce blue light exposure an hour before bed. Try a soothing cup of tea, essential oils, meditation, or reading, to get your body into sleep mode. Be patient with this and if you’re truly exhausted, keep your workouts light, and make meals quick and easy. Try to make the other parts of your day as simple as possible until you catch up on your rest.
Holidays are a wonderful thing. There is no need to forgo fun in order to adhere to a strict diet or workout routine. Everyone needs a break once in awhile. Besides, research indicates that we don’t actually begin to lose strength gains until about 3 weeks from inactivity. Just remember to go easy on yourself and start back slowly when you return home.
One very helpful tool I love, is to actually plan your “off track” times. Take a look at your calendar, look at the entire year, and make note of times when you’re away, times when you know things get crazy busy, and times when things run smoothly. Who doesn’t love planners and colour coding things (LOL)! When you look at things ahead of time, you can actually plan for the times when your workouts won’t be consistent, or your diet becomes your last priority. When things are smooth, make it a focus to get your workouts in, to food prep, get to bed early, and whatever else you want. When you go on holiday, or have a busy season at work, know that you’re OK to take some extra rest because you’ve actually built it in to your plan!
If you’re struggling to “get back on track”, and your holiday fun has seeped into your everyday routine, perhaps you need an accountability partner to give you a boost. Sometimes a nutrition coach or personal trainer can provide temporary support to help you find your focus again. If that’s the case, I’d be happy to help! Simply contact me and we can discuss your goals, colour code your calendar, and get you organized and on track toward your goals! 🙂
Take care and happy holiday-ing!!
In Wellness, Krista