What to do to 'bounce back'
“Mindful eating isn’t linear. It’s more like a spiral taking you deeper into knowing how to care for yourself.”
-Dr. Michelle May, MD
We’ve all been there.. the party, wedding, holiday, company dinner, Super Bowl, etc. and sometimes those events happen a little closer to each other than we’d like. Or, maybe it’s not a huge event and it’s get togethers, commiserating, celebrating, going out to a restaurant you’ve always wanted to go to- could be with any number of people for any reason, or perhaps you just took yourself out and just didn’t want to think twice about what you were eating (or weight, health, or any other little annoying voice in your head). Then you wake up the next morning, or after a few days, and you’re like ‘wtf, am I going to gain weight? Am I going to undo all the work I’ve put in?! Gahh…’
Good news. The answer is no.. no, you’re not really going to gain weight- weight happens over a period of time, and let’s actually define weight. There’s fat cells, which is typically what people refer to, and then there’s free fat mass- organs, bones, muscle, fluid (i.e. blood, water). Chances are if you’ve had a big meal and quizzically staring at that half empty bottle of wine one night, you’ll be fine. What you feel the next morning could be any mix of both guilt, and just not feeling good. Great.. what did you learn? How did you feel? What can you maybe not really do today that you can do other days? Shifting the conversation around turns it into a choice, and more empowering. Each meal you choose next is your choice, so instead of ‘I’ll start tomorrow eating healthy’, start the next time you get hungry.
What you did gain overnight is food.. food your body has not yet digested and excreted (it takes about 2 days for food to fully get metabolized and moved through from beginning to end), and probably some water weight you’re holding onto as processed, sugary, carb-laden, savory foods hold in water. And if you’re feeling bloated, well most of serotonin (our happy hormone), is in our gut, so chances are you’re literally not feeling super hot (tad more irritable/cranky). However, if you notice now your pants really aren’t buttoning, and something is a little tight.. yeah.. that’s more likely fat. Especially if upon reflection a few of those events happened close together, and perhaps your sleep wasn’t great and your exercise routine wasn’t as many days as you’d like. It happens- life happens. Not an excuse per se, but a responsibility for our health, whatever we expect of ourselves health-wise.
Here are my top 3 strategies for getting on track again:
Take a look at your schedule Sunday night- Do you have some events coming up, or dinners, where you really want to try whatever is on the table? How did you feel the last time you were at an event? Do you need a later start? Depending on what’s important to you, consider choosing which event you may want that extra glass of alcohol, or dessert. If there’s quite a few events, go for veggies and protein, while saving a little room for other choices.
Be mindful- In working with patients I educate- ask yourself, how did you feel after a certain night? You can eat all good stuff, but if you feel deprived, you’ll wind up feeling pretty lousy than if you let yourself indulge in that piece of cake. Eat until you’re 80% full so your body can digest what it needs, and shift awareness to how you feel the next morning. For example, if going to the gym becomes an important part of your life, you probably like feeling energized rather than weighed down- pun intended, haha. Eventually your inner values outweigh (ok, this time no pun intended) regularly planning.
Eat super clean- Whatever mind game you have to play with yourself, or tell yourself, the best way to bounce back after 1 day or a few days of knowing you weren’t eating fantastic, cold turkey with veggies, protein, and healthy fats. Just kill those cravings, and don't give your body a second thought. And drink at least a glass more water than usual, and add in a cap full of apple cider vinegar (great for digestion, cravings & metabolism). Even if you don’t really want to cook, get some frozen veggies, wild caught canned salmon in environmentally friendly can (i.e. wild planet), and some avocado. Can use apple cider vinegar & lemon as a dressing too, which is super detoxifying. All this also helps your liver process whatever was going on those past few days, so honestly after a few meals you’ll actually be craving all this. And yes, your brain will want to go back to the sugar/fat/alcohol, but you have to tell it otherwise (it will listen).
In the midst of all these diets, each decade or few years bringing about a new phase, it’s easy to jump from diet to diet to cleanse to the next shiny object, and almost makes one wonder what the next big fad will be in a few years. Who knows.. at the end of the day we have our body to listen to. Of course, if you find yourself reactive, restricting foods either out of fear or because you literally feel like you can’t eat anything, we should talk. Or gaining or losing weight and your food intake is pretty much the same. All of these signs help us turn inwards to understand what our body truly needs to be at its best, and in the overall, it’s part of why weight loss is a journey- it asks us to change our lives! Sometimes people even find themselves with new friends, or nixing old ones because soon their values change and they find others are not aligned. If you have any further thoughts/questions, I’m happy to chat about additional ways you can implement in order to bounce back after any scenario!