Having been eating healthy 9 months now and exercising 3-4 times per week for about the same time, there have been days I have strayed off the “health wagon.” It is going to happen. A couple weeks ago I had been feeling run down. My joints were hurting. So, last week I gave myself a week off from exercise. Within a few days my diet crashed hard. I haven’t eaten ice cream, chocolate, or cookies for months. Mmmmmm I love ice cream, so I had a few bowls over the past week. So what was I to do? I didn’t really feel like waking up at 6am to swim and I didn’t want to go stretch or do exercise classes. I got the sense that I was stalling! How did I get back on the wagon to fight the good fight again?
Here is what I did. I started eating healthy again but with the tastiest foods within my normal healthy diet.
First, I cooked up a mean, rare, tasty steak of the best quality. I sprinkled in with that some spicy salsa. For my next meal I went to the grocery store to sample the buffet food, again still going healthy but the tastiest healthy. Yes, you can actually eat steak and still be healthy. I also added some egg whites and tuna salad, not ideal but I only added greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. The next meal or two I repeated this. After a few meals going out to eat at the grocery buffet, I returned to making my own food where I can better control the portions and the toppings.
Second, I started swimming at 6am. I didn’t feel like going. I just did it! Then I started stretching again and tried out a few weight machines. I then forced myself to go swimming at 6am the next day, whether I wanted to or not, and then a third day. Once you start a new routine it gets easier. You must treat it like starting over, because you really are. Just one week off and you lose some of your endurance and strength. A couple weeks ago I was running personal triathlons three times a week, definitely too much for my body and hence I got injured. I strained my right hip. My shoulders were starting to hurt, too. A break was definitely a good idea.
During my week off from everything I am noticing something peculiar: mood change. I was sleeping later, feeling more anxious and more depressed. Yes, that’s going to happen. So it was imperative that I got back on the “wagon.” I wanted to come back but I just didn’t feet like it. When you get to that point it’s “danger time,” but I started again slowly. I just swam and stretched, no crazy hard triathlons, just warming up my muscles and joints. I swam every day one mile, 32 round trips in about 35 minutes. That I could still do that was good news; it revealed to me I was still in good cardiovascular shape. Going daily and just swimming is a good and safe way to get back into it.
That’s how I got back on the health wagon. You are going to experience times when you just need and want a break, too. If you are in school, maybe you stopped exercising because of a midterm or your finals. For me, it was just too much exercise I wasn’t ready for. It’s okay. Forgive yourself. But you need to get back on the “wagon” as soon as you can. You need to create a new routine. So do it. Start back again as if you hadn’t been doing any exercise all these months. Start back again slowly with both diet and exercise. In no time, you will be back to a normal, healthy routine.