No matter how much time passes since my weight loss in 2012, I still feel less than fantastic about interrupting my eating plan and exercise schedule. We all know that holiday weekends and traveling are a blast, but they can feel like a bust for the health-conscious if not kept in perspective. Keeping it in perspective means understanding that it’s healthy to embrace these interruptions every now and then. I like to eat comfort food just like everyone else, but I can’t help being a sucker for a routine and consistency.
My latest struggle with this took place on our honeymoon in April. I remember making it a goal to break the routine and live a little – and to do so without guilt. “You’ll never go on a honeymoon again” served as justification for eating too much food and getting zero exercise. Evidenced by the photos below, I certainly lived a little, but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t feel a little defeated.
I often think back on something that a good friend told me as we were in the thick of our weight-loss journeys. She told me something to the effect of:
Guilt isn’t a productive feeling, because it doesn’t change behavior.
I didn’t understand or agree at the time.
Is it because we don’t anticipate how bad we’ll feel emotionally about making an unhealthy decision? I tend to have the foresight to base my decision making on how I anticipate feeling about my actions and their associated outcomes.
Is it because of selective memory – subconsciously choosing to remember the desirable aspects and to forget the undesirable ones? For instance, we remember how good food tastes and not how badly it made us feel. Not me. I have memories of a few of my worst struggles with food during my weight loss journey. Like in February 2012, the first weekend I was on Weight Watchers, when I cried over three slices of pizza being an entire day’s worth of points. And in September 2012, after losing most of the weight, being rushed through ordering off of an overwhelmingly large, unhealthy menu and feeling like a failure for ordering seafood alfredo that was incredibly thick in consistency, overpriced, and didn’t even taste that good. That was a lesson in choosing to eat what will make me feel good afterwards. You only get to experience the enjoyment of eating food while you’re eating it. That feeling of success or failure is long-lasting.
My friend also said something to the effect of:
Guilt keeps us from moving forward.
This is what won me over on the idea that guilt isn’t a productive feeling. For instance, I’m much more likely to keep my head in the game after a healthy decision or string of healthy decisions. It’s the interruptions and one poor decision that knock me off track and leave me feeling defeated.
If you’re like me and progressing toward your health and fitness goals, you might be going into this holiday weekend feeling a little uneasy about how to deal with too many tempting treats and not enough classes on the schedule at the gym. I hope that you’ll find these 5 tips for living well this holiday weekend helpful.
- Set realistic goals and expectations. Is there something that you can easily go without and, therefore, cut out? Mine is alcohol. I’d much rather eat than drink.
- If you’re traveling, pack your bags for success with exercise clothes and healthy snacks. I packed some running clothes so I can hit the hills of Lexington, Va., tomorrow morning with Nate.
- If those with whom you’re celebrating give you weird looks for this seemingly odd holiday-weekend behavior, tell them what you’re doing, and ask them for support.
- Act with intention by thinking about what you’re eating and drinking. This can reduce the risk of experiencing guilt.
- Most importantly, be safe, have fun, and be good to yourself!