So it happened again. Office parties, family celebrations, homemade holiday cookies to give away as presents, leftovers... then Valentine's Day sweets. The holidays came and went with all their usual excess of fun, stress, joy, and overeating, and what you're left with now is a few extra pounds, and likely a promise to yourself that you'll never eat like that again. If you're like most people, you're probably also struggling to get back on track after the month-long (or longer) binge, and as wonderful as it would be to fit into your favorite pair of jeans again, or feel healthy and energized, you can't seem to get back into the swing of normal eating habits.
Is this you?
If the answer is yes, there's no reason for you to stress about it or feel ashamed; most of us are in the same boat during these first few weeks or months of the year.
As a recovering over-eater and lifelong sugar addict who hasn't touched anything with added sugar for more than a year now, I completely understand the feeling of trying to get your health and diet act together—and failing every single day. Luckily, my road to overcoming these issues has taught me a thing or two about getting unstuck when there's lack of motivation, excess cravings, and a massive food hangover—and I'm sharing my five favorite tricks with you.
1. Drink up (water, that is).
Water is the number one healing and detoxifying substance on the planet, so if you want to press the reset button of your body, start there. This is especially important if you went a bit too merry on the booze in December and January, as alcohol greatly dehydrates the body. Make sure you're getting eight to 10 glasses of water a day. If you tend to forget, you can set up the alarm on your phone every hour, or put a post-it note on your computer screen to remind you. If you want to go the extra mile, drinking a large glass of warm water with the juice of one lemon first thing in the morning will kickstart your digestive system for the day.
2. Focus more on what you do eat than on what you want to avoid.
I don't know about you, but when I'm told I can't have or do something, that's all I can think about. That is probably the No. 1 reason why most diets fail in the long run. Because who wants a life of restriction? What I suggest is that instead of obsessing about avoiding sugar, carbs, fat, or whatever your mind tells you you "shouldn't" eat, you focus on adding healthy foods to your daily eating routine as often as possible. Adding nutritious foods to your diet will not only take some of your appetite's real estate, leaving less space for unhealthier options; it will also give your body more of what it needs at a cellular level, which will decrease your cravings naturally. Remember: when your body doesn't get the nutrients it actually needs, it will keep asking for more and more food because it will be chronically unsatisfied. Better to be on good terms with your body.
Consuming healthy foods during the day will "crowd out" their unhealthy cousins in a natural way that won't require will power or suffering of any kind. The easiest way I find to pile up on nutrients is to drink a green juice every day, half an hour before breakfast. You can decide at what time of the day it's more convenient for you to drink it, but I find that getting it out of the way in the morning is simpler, and guarantees you won't forget or find an excuse later in the day to skip it. Make this a daily habit, and you'll see how great you feel.
Do 10 sun salutations; dance to two of your favorite songs like nobody's watching; run two laps around the block. Whatever it is that you like doing in the body movement department, commit to doing it for just a few minutes (10 is a good start) every single day. Paying a pricey fee to join the gym and promising yourself that you will go for an hour every day may be too overwhelming and leave you paralyzed. Does "unused gym membership" ring a bell? The same will probably happen with any kind of grand decision to exercise you make, especially if you're not a naturally sporty person, or you're simply feeling sluggish at this time of the year. A little is better than nothing, and getting your blood and energy flowing every day will eventually get you out of your funk.
Don't take any of these suggestions as rules and restrictions, but view them as fun and playful practices to explore different ways of eating and feeling. If you follow them with a positive attitude, you'll start seeing results in no time.