You started your diet, you suffered through all those hungry days and nights and you even built in smart breaks along the way.
It would certainly seem like you should be able to enjoy life a bit on occasion but whenever you do you seem to go overboard and when you check the scale it’s bad, like real bad, like all the progress you made is now gone or pretty close to it.
What do you do now?
The first thing you don’t do is say “fuck it”, that’s not going to help. Also the feelings of guilt and shame aren’t helpful here. Why should enjoying life be accompanied by guilt and shame?
Here are a couple of thoughts that might help….
- Give yourself some grace, you are probably a little bloated from all the foods you normally don’t eat (or drink) but did, it’s simply going to take your body a few days to process all that extra sodium and water that your body is holding. Be more conscious of sodium and drink more water the next few days.
- WEIGH YOURSELF if you can detach yourself from the data. Wouldn’t it be nice to know the difference between one night out and a weekend of fun? You can actually know this based on the data you can provide yourself. Once you can mentally process the data it can help you with strategies so that you can plan better for next time, I will talk about that below.
- I am not a fan of a “it’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle” for this EXACT reason. No one wants to aspire to a lifestyle that is joyless. If your “lifestyle” is super rigid, you only eat wholesome foods and you never enjoy alcohol, most people don’t want to live like that and you don’t need to. That’s the most important part. There are certainly programs out there that are super rigid and frankly I think they are part of the problem and not part of the solution. The reason is because they never get your calories ACTUALLY back to normal and so when you have ANY moment of indiscretion it sets up this cycle of guilt that is not necessary.
It’s also harmful long term if you ever want to live a normal life.
So now let’s talk about strategies….
- You can’t wing it, you have to go in with a plan and I get that what I am talking about might sound a bit rigid but hear me out. If you want to listen to music there are a few ways to do it, you can turn on Spotify and listen to a playlist, you can share the experience with friends or family or you can go to a concert. Each of those require a different level of preparation. Food and alcohol is no different. Here is an example, you have a planned dinner with friends and you have a babysitter for the event. You absolutely know that there will be a lot of calories and alcohol consumed, it’s also safe to say that your weight will be up the following day and you might feel a bit bloated. In this example I am not going to give you a strategy related to this meal but obviously there are strategies. I am going to give you a strategy around the rest of the day. First of all, you are probably going to be a little hungry going into the meal but that’s ok, you are going to enjoy yourself. In that situation for breakfast I might have a small serving of full fat yogurt, some granola with a little honey right before a hike. Try and stay active as much as you can. It can help, it won’t help burn 3000 calories and you shouldn’t be in the habit of trying so that you can earn food for later. I am simply suggesting that you stick to the active lifestyle that got you here but rather than spending an hour and a half on a treadmill to pay for a baked potato and dessert make part of your experience related around the joy of food also be about the joy of what you can do as result of using the food you consume (or will consume). That’s important, food is an ally to who you want to become. For lunch have a salad with protein and keep your guard up throughout the day. Let me also add that letting your family go apeshit for no reason isn’t going to help either and won’t set them up for healthy habits. Even your kids are probably going to have pizza later so there is no reason they can’t have healthy snacks along with you throughout the day.
- I have a rule when on vacation or away for a weekend, if it’s not the best of the best I don’t eat it. If I am going to deviate from my normal plan the food needs to be A LOT better than mediocre. That said, a diner you have been going to since you were 6 years old might represent a great experience for you and your family. Build that into your day in reverse from the example above. The key is to just be conscious as you go.
- Your weight is going to be up no matter what. Mentally you have to have a plan for this, we have all gone on vacation and come back home and surprise surprise you are only up a pound. In fact, more often than not this is going to be the case if you are mindful and your alcohol consumption is moderate. What you have to ask yourself is who you want to be? If you are going to live in a very rigid way most of the time and then go off the rails occasionally is that who you want to be? OR would you rather live flexibly most of the time so that when vacation or weekends away hit you can make small additions or deviations that are easy to work around. Most people land in one or the other but I can tell you from personal experience the second one is a lot more satisfying and comes with a lot less stress and guilt.
- USE THAT ENERGY! Rather than focusing on calorie burn and doing an ultra marathon so that you can have a piece of cheesecake bang out a good sets and reps session. Let’s be real here, unless you are a bodybuilder with a good routine you probably spend more time “earning” calories rather than “using” those calories. This is why a lot of folks that workout quite a bit don’t have the kind of muscle they want because they don’t workout smart. When you have taken in excess calories try and USE them to build some extra tissue so that you can see the value of what that looks like in the mirror long term.
It also helps you mentally see the value in having a better approach.
PS I am not talking about cheat meals, if you really want to fuck yourself up and your relationship with food cheat meals will do that. Whatever plan you have PART OF THAT PLAN should involve enjoying food responsibly.