A Nutritionist's Guide To Keeping Healthy (And Sane) Long-Term
I'm a nutritionist and I totally let my diet and exercise regimen go … once in a while.
I've been in the health business for a long time, and I've realized that if I'm too rigid with my healthy habits, I get bored and feel like I am punishing myself and eventually lose my motivation.
So I learned to incorporate my strategy for "letting go” by cultivating a relaxed attitude toward food and sleeping in when I feel like I need it.
Letting go isn’t easy if you've achieved great results and feel amazing when you eat clean and keep fit. You might feel anxious to let go because you think it can be a slippery slope. In life, there are numerous times when you have to learn to become flexible in order to succeed, and your healthy routine is no exception.
You have to learn to become flexible in order to succeed.
I believe that if you let go by indulging in a few glasses of wine, a great dessert, eating out more than you usually do, or exercising a little less than usual, you build a healthy relationship with yourself, your body, and your health views.
You learn to build a flexible health routine that allows for exceptions and moderation, which in turn helps you to stay on this routine for life.
To help reduce the stress or anxiety of letting go, I suggest a few simple strategies that have helped me along the way:
1. Have a scheduled time for your “break.”
Similar to a cheat meal or a treat meal strategy, create a cut-off date or a date when you know you will get back on track.
Schedule in a few extra fitness sessions (before and after your little break), fill the fridge with healthy foods, create a clean-eating menu, and know that once the cut-off date appears in the calendar, you're back on track.
2. Always choose quality over quantity.
Even (or perhaps, especially) with the foods you're indulging in.
Say you love chocolate and feel like eating more chocolate while on vacation; make sure to choose the best quality chocolate you can find (80 percent dark, raw cacao is best).
Same goes for ice cream — go for the real deal, like a good gelato versus a supermarket-bought cheap treat.
3. Don’t forget to take your supplements, especially the probiotics.
When indulging, we sometimes eat fewer veggies than normal. This can cause us to bloat a little more than usual. In order to prevent that, probiotics are essential.
4. Focus on the people you're with and the experience.
Don’t make the indulgence about the food; make it about the experience. For example, watching the sunset with a glass of wine — enjoy the sunset first, and let the wine be the cherry on the top.
5. Be mindful.
Acknowledge that you are eating certain foods, see how they make you feel, and listen to your body. Quiet the negative talk that might come up by knowing that you are in control of the food and not the other way around.
6. Choose your indulgence wisely.
For example, if you have dinner reservations with friends, try to eat clean during the day so that dinner can be relaxed, allowing you to choose whatever you want from the menu.
7. Have a chat with your significant other or a close friend.
Ask them to keep you in check when indulging might get out of hand.
8. What you do 80 percent of the time is what matters.
So this little “time off” shouldn’t make a big impact on your health if you go back to your healthy ways.
I love going on vacations and relaxing my regimen by sleeping in, having a glass of wine, and not thinking too much about what I eat.
What's interesting is that my body always tells me when it’s had enough and wants to go back to its clean eating, yogi ways, making me feel super motivated to get back to my routine.
Eating perfectly isn't possible 100 percent of the time. There will always be situations in life in which you won't be in control of the food around you, and trying to will cause you much more stress than it's worth.
Like every area in life, you need to be flexible and learn to go with the flow when needed. The key lies in getting back on track. If most of the year you eat clean and stay fit, then it's not a problem to indulge a little more than usual here and there. Why don’t you give it a try?