You planned on eating a few chips and now the entire bag is empty... We’ve all been there. And we’ll all be there again.
We diet, eat healthy, workout and maybe even meditate to alleviate stress. We’re committed to a healthy lifestyle until the moment we decide we can cheat a little.
It’s easy to let a few bad days snowball out of control until you’re eating donuts for dinner and binge-watching Jessica Jones instead of going to the gym. And some are so incredibly hard on themselves that they accept the shame and depression that goes along with failure.
Instead of labeling ourselves losers after a cheat day, I’d like to put a few bad decisions into perspective. Let’s focus on gently forgiving ourselves for not being perfect and create a plan to quickly get back to healthier days.
Have a bounce-back plan
We all know we’ll drink too much, eat an extra piece of birthday cake or be too busy for a regular workout at some point. Having a plan will help us get back on track quicker and give us actionable steps we can implement that will help us feel better immediately.
Let’s start with actions that can help us get rid of toxins and the tired, bloated feeling we get after a few cheat days. There are a few supplements that can help with extra sugar and salt associated with overindulgence. In These 3 Tips Will Help You Bounce Back After A Cheat Day Sharon Young suggests magnesium, B vitamins, and extra water will help us bounce back quickly and adds:
“Ginger or peppermint tea will help with the bloating and possible indigestion – both ginger and peppermint help relax the muscles in your digestive tract, helping excess wind and food pass through comfortably.”
It’s also a good idea to have a few quick and easy dishes to make with staples in your pantry. Think of stress-free, whole food recipes or something like this yummy Antioxidant Super Smoothie which is both easy to make and will help your system detox.
While it’s important to jump back into healthy eating, don’t forget about getting some kind of physical movement. If you can’t sweat out toxins at a Zumba class, try a full-body stretch routine, yoga or simply take a walk. The idea is to get up off the couch and remember how amazing you feel after doing some physical work.
We’re only human
It’s easy to make a plan on what to eat after a day of indulgence. But it’s not that easy to forgive yourself after you fail to stick to your diet or skip a few weeks worth of workouts, especially if this is the 100th time you’ve cheated this year. There may be a lot of really great reasons you gave in to a cheat day or two. Or you may have simply given up your goals because it was really, really hard to accomplish that day.
The first thing to remember is that we’re only human. We are all imperfect beings and deserve forgiveness. In 12 Ways To Forgive Yourself—No Matter What You've Done Ellen Michaud shares some smart steps we can take towards forgiving ourselves including:
“Once a day, think of all the kind and loving things you've done today alone: the stray dog you picked up and returned to its owner, the crying child you distracted so its mother could eat her lunch, the dry cleaning you picked up after work so that your honey could exercise. Think about it for very long, and you'll realize that you've become one amazing person!”
People are messy. We are complicated and complex, and sometimes we need a little help and support to get ourselves back on track. If you’re still struggling with forgiving yourself after a few cheat days, consider reaching out to a friend or talking with a trainer or nutritionist. They may have some suggestions that will help you let go of the guilt and get on with your healthy routine.
Keep moving forward
One of my favorite movies of all time is Meet the Robinsons. It’s a Disney movie where the family motto is “Keep moving forward!”. In a family of adventurers and inventors, the Robinsons see every failure as an opportunity to learn. Instead of feeling bad about their mistakes, they just keep moving forward.
This may seem like a simplistic view of life, but it’s really not. None of us can change what happened yesterday. The only thing we can do is change what we do today. It’s very easy to get sucked into believing everyone’s sweaty Instagram workout pic isn’t staged (it totally is). It’s easy to believe they are all living perfect lives and have impeccable self-control (they don’t).
Don’t use one, two or even a week’s worth of cheat days as an excuse to give up. Be gentle on yourself and let go of the guilt. Laugh it off and remember tomorrow is another chance at success.