We’ve all been there: doing super well with our workout routine, eating super clean and healthy, and then the holidays roll around, and you feel like you ate so much mac n cheese, you could literally die. You had the best of intentions. You told yourself you were going to fill up on salad and green beans and turkey. (Okay, so maybe you were a bit unrealistic). That didn’t happen, because food is delicious. If you’re like a lot of people, you might be feeling a whole lot of emotions, and probably not a lot of them are positive. I don’t need to tell you that beating yourself up over not being perfect is counterproductive… but I’ll tell you anyway. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
When all is said and done (and eaten), you probably came to one of two different conclusions, right? One, you say f*ck it, you already messed up, might as well give up. Two, you own up to your sh*t, recover, and get back on track. If you picked one, then we need to switch your whole mindset. How are you ever going to reach your goals (in fitness and life in general) if, for every one mistake you make, you give up and make another four or five? One bad meal or one bad day doesn’t have to set you back for a week or more. So take a deep breath, stop beating yourself up, and take a look at my best tips to helping you get back on track.
Instead Of Beating Yourself Up… Forgive Yourself
I already touched on this a little, but first and foremost, realize that you’re human and no one on Earth has ever stuck to a diet or lifestyle change perfectly. Diets are not designed for perfect execution, but that’s a whole different topic of discussion that I could talk about forever. Bottom line, if you went harder at Thanksgiving than you had initially intended, forgive your mistake and dust yourself off. It’s just a speed bump, you didn’t crash and burn. You’ll be okay.
Instead Of Feeling Regret… Find Appreciation
Instead of focusing on all the negative feelings, focus on the upside. Did you have a great time with your friends and family? Did you enjoy the food? Did you avoid getting into an argument with Uncle Paul by making sure your mouth was full with mashed potatoes at all times? Regret nothing. The more you focus on the negative, the more you’ll stress yourself out, which will raise your cortisol levels and cause you to further demonize food. If you follow my school of thought, then you know we don’t demonize food—doing so will just make you want more of the “bad” foods you have deemed off-limits, and in the long run, sabotage your own goals and happiness.
Instead Of Doing A Cleanse… Hydrate And Eat Fiber
Okay, so instead of just not eating the next day to counteract the damage, drink a lot of water and make it a point to eat something green and crunchy like a salad (crunchy because of the lettuce, not croutons, sorry) for either lunch or dinner. The water and fiber will help move things along, literally and figuratively. Salad, soups, feel free to add whatever lean protein you want. Avoid processed foods and try to limit your sodium intake, because it will just make you more bloated. But, for the love of God, eat! Don’t try to crash diet or deprive yourself of food or go on a juice cleanse—that’s setting yourself up for more struggle, disappointment, and bad feelings in the long run.
Instead Of Working Out As Punishment… Do It As Motivation
If you feel so motivated, try to get a workout in. To be clear, this is not a punishment for your mistakes. Don’t approach it like that, but approach it like, now that your gas tank is full, you have the resource to go the extra mile. You may find that you are able to lift heavier, run faster and go for more reps and sets. Use the extra fuel as a resource for achieving new fitness goals, but make sure not to over-exercise to the point of injury.
Remember: As long as you don’t give up, you’ll be okay. Keep the vibe and self-talk positive, because literally, EVERYONE on Earth goes through this. What matters is if you choose to bounce back from these setbacks. The difference between progression and regression not just in fitness, but in life, is realizing you’re bigger than your mistakes.
This article originally appeared on Betches Lifestyle.