As summer comes to an end, and we pack away our bathing suits and our, "Suns Out Guns Out" tank tops the world delivers us pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice donuts, pumpkin spice air; pretty much, this year, pumpkin spice is the new black. But whatever your favorite fall treat is, and it's most likely not pumpkin spice ricecakes, which I'm not sure if they exist, but chances are they will by the time I'm done typing this post, something delicious and autumnal will be calling your name every day. Additionally, we have a ton of 3-day weekends, holidays that revolve around food, and the natural instinct to put on weight to stay warm as we suffer through winter, from our heated homes. So what can we do to stay on track when there are all of these tempting treats being shoved under our noses, and the propensity to be 7/8 naked in public is greatly diminished?
1. Re-evaluate your goal. Say you weigh 180lbs and wanted to lose 10 pounds by December 1st, but you are going away for 2 weeks on vacation in October. Then you have Thanksgiving weekend, and then you have your goal date. You've been doing great, but you're worried about vacation. Set a small goal right before you go on vacation. Make your goal to not gain any weight, or to only gain 3 pounds. That way, just like I mentioned in Cheat Meals, you can have tastes of foods, but still opt for mostly healthy options. When you return, give yourself a day to get back to your typical diet and exercise plan, then weigh yourself the following morning. Did you maintain? Did you gain 5 lbs? If you gained weight, that's okay, by creating a goal to not gain weight, or by allowing yourself to gain a small amount of weight, you ate much healthier than you would have if you just said, "eh fuck it." So way to go! You gained less then you probably would have, and you're already back to your healthy habits, congratulations, you're phenomenal!
2. Decide before you go away, even if you're only going home to your parents house for a 3 day weekend what your exercise schedule will look like. It's okay if it's less rigorous than you are used to, chances are you're not training for an Olympic team, so doing any exercise, instead of none, is beneficial. If you usually work out for an hour on Saturday, but realistically you'll only have 30 minutes, schedule it in, just like you've scheduled in seeing Sally who you just caught up with on facebook after not having talked to her since high school. This will be a time commitment you make with yourself. Give yourself an actual time to workout, and stick to it, by scheduling it in for yourself you'll have it in your mind that you've committed to it and you will be more likely to actually do it.
3. Let yourself have the pumpkin spice muffin, but balance it out by pairing it with a protein, like some eggs or a salad with chicken. Instead of just having the sweet, make it part of a meal instead of a snack or a treat. When you have the piece of chocolate, or the bite of pie, or the pumpkin spice everything, your brain gets so excited, it wants more. Essentially you're training yourself to want sweets or cake. By pairing it with nutritious options, since your brains reward system is already activated, you're helping yourself learn to eat better, and diminishing the rewarding effect of the sweets on your brain. At the same time, you are increasing the association between balanced meals and feeling fulfilled and happy. So don't deny yourself the occasional sweet, but just make it a part of a meal instead of a reward, or a cheat snack.
4. Don't be so hard on yourself. When we set our initial long term goals, we usually give ourselves a time limit. That can be a beneficial way to stay motivated, just like a work deadline for a project you wouldn't actually do unless you were going to be fired for not doing by a certain time, a goal to hit a certain mark by a certain time can be helpful. However, life happens. If someone died, your boss would probably give you an extension, if you aren't going to hit your goal, set a new goal, give yourself an extension. You've come so far so don't give up. Maybe you want to get back on track by the day you had set to hit your goal weight. Maybe you've been perfect and now your weight loss has slowed or platued. See a personal trainer or a nutritionist to mix things up and revamp your plan. Or even see a behavioral therapist to find out if there is more to this than meets the eye. Remember just because you didn't hit that long term goal, you've still come far, you just might have to be more realistic about when you'll get there, it doesnt mean you never will.
So even though we are covering our bodies with oversized sweaters, that probably have pockets to hold all of the delicious treats the world has to offer, not to mention that we didn't eat all summer, remember, you are working to have a healthy body all year round, not just when your prancing around the beach trying to get a life gaurd to give you mouth to mouth even if you're not drowning. The biggest thing that happens in winter, is we get discouraged that we arent making the same progress, but it's only natural. You have been making changes for a few months now so progress will be less intense. Appreciate how far you've come, enjoy the treats in moderation, and create realistic wellness goals that you can stick to for now.
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