Alex’s Guide to Getting Back on Track
‘Twas the week after Thanksgiving and all through the house were the leftover pie slices and not a vegetable to be found.
Our bodies were full of turkey and red wine, and as we set out for the gym, we said, “I’ll save that for another time.”
Hopefully, you had a long weekend to revel in that time to relax and enjoy the leftovers for what they’re worth. Turkey omelettes anyone?
If you’re anything like the rest of us (I think I speak for just about everyone here), you’re in “getting back on track” mode. We’re talking about this all season for a reason, my friends. It gets exhausting.
Whether you stuck to your guns and ate healthy on Thanksgiving or you wore your yoga pants for a darn good reason, the focus now is to hold on tight for the next month until Christmas, at least.
I like to stress that “recuperating” extends far beyond food. You could have a slice of pie everyday leading up to Christmas and still stay on track. Alas, that isn’t the case for most of us. The all-or-nothing mentality can be tough to conquer, and dessert isn’t generally known for being terribly nutritious.
The true secret to bouncing back? Take it from someone who’s done quite a bit of it – it’s the little things that add up. I want to share my favorite tactics for gearing up and getting my body back up to speed after splurging or whenever you truly need it.
Wake up in the morning with a glass of water and a shot of apple cider vinegar. This stuff is like magic. If you add a little honey and cinnamon to hot water with it, it almost tastes like a glass of hot cider. If you can’t quite palate the bitterness, start small! At this point, I’ve grown to enjoy the flavor quite a bit. Why put yourself through the wringer with this tonic? Quite a few reasons:
Intermittent fasting can be done a number of ways, and you can safely practice it in your everyday routine if you do it right. It has a number of benefits which include some “time off” for your body to digest a large meal, and it’s often used as a weight loss tool. I personally like to implement it just by skipping breakfast the morning after a heavy dinner and waiting to eat at lunch and dinner. This creates an easy fasting window from your last meal through breakfast time, including the time you spend asleep. It can help your blood sugar stabilize and reduce insulin resistance which helps your body get back into the swing of things quite easily.
It’s only natural that we resolve to “work off all that turkey” in the gym or whatever, but I think the phrasing of that statement is all wrong. When we decide to workout to merely burn calories, it can often take away from the joy of exercise at all. Take it from me, someone who spent years in the gym counting all those ‘calories burned’ on the elliptical – it’s more stress than it’s worth. Take a walk after dinner or wake up early for a brisk jog. Keep it low-impact and casual. Better yet, take along a family member to catch up or bring the dog. Just moving will help your body to digest and keep burning fat. No need to go big or go home for now, even if you think it’s the only way to negate weight gain.
I think one of the most invasive thought processes during the holidays is the sense that we’ve lost control. We end up in a cycle that seems never-ending, and each time we make a comeback, the control is lost before we know it. Instead of acting like you’re going to get it back without a plan in place, face reality; you get what you give. Put in some effort, get into the kitchen, and give yourself options. Prep your food for the week ahead of time so that stress, weak moments, and unexpected busy days don’t get the best of your diet. The week after a big holiday feast is SO important to tackle. No excuses! I turn the crock pot on and make sure the fridge is stocked with veggies.
Epsom Salt Baths
I put it some work at the gym leading up to Thanksgiving, and I felt pretty good about indulging! Alas, my body did not. Besides being incredibly full and slightly bloated, my muscles were aching hard. I felt swollen and far less mobile than usual. Epsom salts are made for these moments, and I swear by their miraculous powers. They help your body absorb magnesium which relieves stress, helps you sleep, and helps digestion – all things to focus on around the holidays! It also soothes sore muscles and can help you to beat the bloat. All that food didn’t go straight to your hips – promise. Epsom salts are the sole reason I could button up my jeans the day after Thanksgiving. Be gentle with yourself and get soaking. Bring a good book, have a cuppa tea.
If you can swing it, don’t set the alarm. Between the cold weather, the stress, and the food-coma-feels, I know that my body wants more rest. Since most of us have time off, embrace a few extra hours of shut-eye. It’ll help you to be more focused when you wake up, and more aware which will inevitably lead to better, healthier choices.
Between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas morning, all that’s on our minds is shopping. I’m personally anti-Black Friday (hello, Amazon Prime!), but I’m not judging you if it’s your jam. Unfortunately, the stress of buying, buying, BUYING overshadows the whole point – giving. I like to take this time to make gifts, crafts, and cards for my loved ones instead. Not only do the recipients of my gifts get to bask in my less-than-stellar crafting abilities, but it helps me to de-stress all around. The thought of hitting the mall between November and December makes me shudder! Opt to stay home more often and tap into your creative side.
So there’s that. These are the things I rely on time and time again to help me get back on my game as soon as possible! Unfortunately, real life can’t always wait for me to feel 100% again to resume. That doesn’t mean I don’t loosen up sometimes. In this case, it’s about what you do rather than what you don’t do. Enjoy yourself, but remember to take care of yourself. It’s all about what you do most days, not that one day of the week, month, or year.
Master your instincts!
Alexandra Barone is a healthy living aficionado residing in Pittsburgh, PA. She writes about all things real food with a focus on paleo. From the kitchen to the gym to roaming the forest, she values a good soundtrack and a color-coordinated outfit.