As a health coach, I work with many women on a number of wellness goals: weight loss, increased energy, or a general desire to learn more about nutrition to name a few. But there is always a common thread with every client I work with: Sustainability. So many people (women especially) find themselves in a cycle of dieting and restricting, followed by periods (whether days, weeks, or even months) of “getting off track.” It is finding freedom from this cycle that I hear in almost every consultation I conduct.
This is fair. Life presents us with experiences that might encourage us to stray from our routines. Whether it’s shorter term occurrences such as holidays and birthdays, or longer term events such as having a baby, moving to a new city, or changing jobs, it can be challenging to maintain a fitness and nutrition routine.
The trick is to utilize mindfulness; to tune into your habits, thought patterns, and perceptions as you move through these experiences. That should be your foundation for your habits and choices. Then the actions you take (the actual choices you make), should be from a place of how you want to feel.
Labor Day weekend is approaching, which offers a chance to practice what I am referring to, but know these tips can be applied to any scenario or situation. Here are six healthy ways to navigate the holiday weekend.
Put pen to paper for a reflection exercise. Putting pen to paper is a powerful tool. On Friday (or at the beginning of whatever time period applies), write about how you want to feel at the end of the weekend. Without harping too much on the past, think about how you might have felt in previous years. For example, maybe you indulged too much or didn’t exercise, so you felt sluggish, tired, or uncomfortable in your body. How do you want this time around to be different, knowing that you have complete control over your choices to achieve those feelings? Perhaps you would rather feel energized, strong, and vibrant as the weekend comes to a close. Make choices from that place. These feelings are what should guide your decisions, knowing the actual actions will differ for everyone.
Move your body every day. As humans, we are meant to move, however that doesn’t mean you must maintain your typical fitness routine. For example, if you engage in HIIT workouts during your work week, maybe you walk or do gentle yoga instead. Give yourself permission to slow down if needed. Especially if you are traveling, walking can be a wonderful way to explore a new place. Or maybe you try something new. Keeping the goal of feeling good in mind, what forms of movement are calling to you? Also knowing that to take a rest day or two could also align with that goal.
Stay consistent as you can with your nutrition for the majority of the day. Holiday weekends call for more social gatherings, which often presents less than healthy food. Knowing you have certain events on your calendar, think both about how you can balance with more beneficial food when you are home. Additionally, plan to bring something on the healthier side, (here are some great options and tips!), and don’t stress about it. Food anxiety for these situations might increase your chances of getting off track. Lastly, give yourself permission to eat and enjoy, yet savor with mindfulness.
Prioritize sleep. High quality sleep is so important. If you are out of your routine, traveling, or with more loved ones than you usually are, it could lead to staying up late and sacrificing your sleep. It’s tempting to want to optimize your time at night, but maintaining 7-8 hours of sleep will help you feel happier and more energized the next day, allowing you to fully enjoy your weekend (and feel so much better when the work week returns!). You won’t be “lame” for turning in. Prioritize your sleep and self-care without feeling bad about it.
Hydrate. This one does not need much explaining. Staying hydrated should be at the top of any wellness routine, but especially during a summer weekend which calls for more fun in the sun. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces (i.e. if you weigh 140 lbs, aim to consume at least 70 ounces during a day).
Practice presence and give yourself permission. As mentioned above, stressing or overthinking these situations can do more harm than good, so practice presence and have fun. When you are joyful and in the flow with life, you realize there are more important things than food. Focus on the friends, family, and what is happening around you instead. Also start with the intention of giving yourself permission to eat, drink, do whatever you want, but then ask yourself the important question of “do you want to?” When you remember your foundation of how you want to feel, ask if the choice aligns with that feeling. These mindsets will allow you to experience life more fully, and help you keep your goal of feeling good at the forefront of your weekend.