5 Ways To Get Back On Track

By Teresa Wagner, RD, LD
July 25, 2023

healthy-habits.jpgWe have a couple of resources on our website about Healthy Eating At The Cabin, How To Eat Healthy When Traveling, and Fun Cocktail Alternatives for all your patio party and happy hour needs. It certainly is possible to travel and celebrate life’s milestones while sticking to the healthy routines and lifestyle habits that help us feel our best.

But sometimes we choose to watch the firework show with our family and stay up later than we usually do or we partake in Grandma’s classic cookie recipe at the family reunion or we have a couple toasts at a friend’s wedding.

We aren’t perfect 100% of the time, nor should we expect ourselves to be. We are human after all, and life is also meant to be enjoyed and experienced. We will always be presented with opportunities to travel, celebrate, and indulge. The trick to being successful with our health goals, especially with weight loss if that’s what you’re working on, is not perfection. The key is finding balance. It’s how we bounce back after we get off track and how long it takes us to get back to our healthy practices when we’ve taken a break from them.

When we spend the majority of our time following the Weight & Wellness Way of eating whole foods in balance and incorporating those healthy lifestyle habits of quality sleep, hydration, movement, and stress management, we will see progress and/or maintenance.

So what if you do “fall off track”? What if you fell off the bandwagon over a vacation or a stressful event in life derailed you from your nutrition goals? Here are five strategies you can implement to help you get back to feeling your best:

Healthy Steps To Take In The Short-Term

1. Hydrate Well

Stack the deck in your favor by hydrating yourself! It’s hard to make good decisions and your body doesn’t function as smoothly when we are dehydrated. A general recommendation is getting half your body weight in ounces of water. If you can get to 100 oz of water a day that’s a great goal to reach for, but start slow and build up to that point. You can do this right now. Go fill your glass or water bottle!

Pro Tip: especially if you are feeling bloated or sluggish, add some electrolytes to your water to make sure you are really flushing out your cells and hydrating them. You can simply do this by adding Himalayan or Celtic sea salt to your water. You can purchase an electrolyte blend to your water (Synerplex from our NutriKey website, LMNT, and Nuun are some good sugar-free options). You can also eat some real foods with high potassium, like potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sprinkled with some salt! You certainly don’t have to do this all the time, but it can be helpful during this window of getting back on track to aid your body in hydration.

2. Eat Well By Getting Back To The Basics

When getting back to eating healthy, keep it simple and think “plants + proteins”. I always want to hit a protein goal, but in getting back on track, focusing on vegetables can really help jump start that feeling of well-being. Get a lot of veggies! This is especially helpful if you feel like you’ve had more fatty, fried, bready-type foods lately. When building your meals and snacks look for the plants and the proteins. I love a big salad with some protein, olives, walnuts, and an olive oil dressing as a big salad makes me feel like I’m getting a lot of veggies. The veggies will have electrolytes and some water content for hydration while the protein and healthy fat will help satiate you and make you feel satisfied.

3. Find A Way To Sweat

Move your body! There’s so much variety in this step as everyone has a different preference of what they like to do for movement and exercise. Mow the lawn, go for a long walk, throw on your running shoes and go for a jog, take a dance or yoga class (or dance in your kitchen while you prep your plants and protein), lift some heavy weights. Exercise can help push out the “blah” feelings or the sluggishness we feel from being off our routines.

4. Sleep!

Especially in the summer when the sun doesn’t set until late, it’s easy to start scrimping on sleep. Next to hydration, nothing makes healthy habits harder to stick to than lack of sleep. When we are dehydrated and sleep deprived, nothing works well, and everything seems hard! Focus on getting 7-9 hours of sleep. This step can feel harder to control because you can’t stop waking up early or getting up in the middle of the night. But the one thing you CAN control is when you start the bedtime routine to give yourself the opportunity to sleep enough by being in bed with the devices put away.

5. Start Right Now!

Monday always seems like a great time to start, but nothing’s special about Monday. Right now is actually the best time. Why delay feeling good? You could wait until the morning, but why not go grab a glass of water right now and make that plan to get to bed in enough time to get those 7 to 9 hours of zzzzs.

5 Steps To Get Back On Track

  1. Hydrate
  2. Plants + proteins
  3. Sweat
  4. Sleep
  5. Start now!

What Can We Do For The Long-Term?

In addition to the actions that will help you feel better right away, what else can you do for long-term success? If you’ve been off track for several months or maybe even the past year (or past few years!), here are a few tips to build back that solid foundation of healthy habits:   

1. Write Down A Meal Plan

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you need to do and all the things you need to get done, much less think about how you’re going to incorporate all these healthy habits. Reduce some of your stress by making a meal plan. What are you going to do over the next week? Or what will your food plan be for the next three days? Break it down to feel less overwhelming by planning simple meals, so you don’t have to put much brain power into it AT mealtime.

2. Why? Think About Why You Are Doing It

What’s your WHY? What’s the big motivating reason for putting these healthy habits front and center? What are the deeper reasons why? Take a few minutes to reflect on why you’re choosing this for yourself. It’s not easy to put in the effort and care! So why are you making the hard choices and taking the time and choosing the healthier swaps?

3. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Beating yourself up is not helpful for keeping those healthy habits going. Practice being the cheerleader for yourself and focus on the positive results you’re striving for in your “WHY”. We can re-program our mindset. Notice when you’re being harsh on yourself and see if you can make the switch to something more loving and caring. Having a growth mindset helps you to see the possibility and opportunity for change rather than getting stuck in the guilt, shame, and blame game.

4. Focus On Progress (Not Perfection)

This is especially important for those of us who are “all or nothing” thinkers. Time + Consistency = Success. If you are consistent over time with eating healthy, hydrating, sleeping, and movement, you will end up in success and health. Our goals aren’t met overnight. It takes checking the box each day, so congratulate yourself when you’ve completed a habit that moves you in the right direction. Happen to miss a day? No worries! You don’t have to be perfect! Just start again at the next opportunity.

5. Get Support If You Need It

Sometimes having a coach, a guide, or a group of like-minded folks can help us with accountability and consistency. Sometimes these folks can help commiserate when it’s hard or offer ideas when we are stuck. The phrase “it takes a village” can apply to our health journeys. We don’t have to go it alone and Nutritional Weight & Wellness can help you by brainstorming with a nutritionist or dietitian or by gathering a community of other folks seeking similar habits and progress. Sometimes it’s helpful to have others point out and celebrate our wins with us! When we are in the messy middle, it can be easy to forget how far we’ve come.

The trick to being successful with our health goals is not perfection. The key is finding balance. It’s how we bounce back after we get off track and how long it takes us to get back to our healthy practices when we’ve taken a break from them.

Where Will You Start?

To recap, if you’ve experienced a time where you’ve fallen away from your healthy habits, get started today with some easy steps. Hydrate, get back to the basics with your food by focusing on lots of veggies and lots of protein, sleep, sweat, and don’t wait for that special day in the future to start. You can always begin again, right now! For long-term success, make a plan, revisit your WHY, talk positively to yourself, notice your progress (even the smallest ones!), and get support. You can do it and we are here with you.

For more information on habits, check out these resources:

About the author

Teresa is a licensed dietitian at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. As a mother of three children and avid runner, Teresa knows that good nutrition is essential for energy and well-being. She also sees first-hand the impact food choices have on her children’s behavior, moods and happiness. Teresa is a registered and licensed dietitian through the Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her B.S. in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and completed her dietetic internship at Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She worked as a clinical dietitian for the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

View all posts by Teresa Wagner, RD, LD

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