It’s one thing to follow a healthy, clean eating and lifestyle plan on regular weekdays, it’s something else once the weekend comes. Especially a long weekend. Especially one where you’re invited away from home with friends and family!
Here are some tips to navigate any challenge without believing you’ve blown it and deciding to give up altogether!
Remember that your goal is progress, not 100% perfection!
You’ve likely heard of the “80:20 Rule” which says that if you eat a healthy food plan 80% of the time, you can do anything you like for the remaining 20%. Personally I think that 20% “anything goes” is a little high, especially if you have health challenges and are trying to recover your health and energy. At the same time, it is just not realistic (or human) to follow anything 100% of the time—the exception to this being if you are dairy or gluten-intolerant or sensitive, or have any other known allergies—that really needs to be 100%. I also think that “anything goes” is just kidding yourself, but the occasional treat is just fine.
Keep up your Meditation practice to help support your resolve
Whether your practice is about finding some time to sit and relax, or a time for you to connect to your Inner Wisdom or Spirit to reenergize and receive guidance, it can help serve as a reminder of why you have decided to follow healthier eating and lifestyle practices. Even if you’re away with family and friends, there is time to meditate: before others are up, a quiet moment on the dock or a walking meditation before dinner. Use this time to connect and ask your body what the right choices are for you. Perhaps repeat some affirmations. Or simply practice awareness, acceptance and self-love.
Long weekends are a great opportunity to connect with others and get outside: on the water, exploring the hiking/biking trails, on the golf course, yoga on the dock, not to mention get out on the slopes in winter. Use this as a chance to encourage others to join you in your goal to move more throughout each and every day. Choose activities that are healthy and encourage your body to be active, strong and supple.
Eat your veggies!
If you’re going to a potluck, offer to bring a salad or veggies and a healthy dip like hummus. At the cottage or chalet, volunteer to help plan the meals to ensure there are healthy options. If you’re dining out, think simple: grilled meat with salad (dressing on the side) and veggies as your sides. At a buffet, do a quick visual cruise of what’s available and then pick what you know is healthy for you—meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, fruits, low-Glycemic carbs. If veggies are available to you, it’s easy to choose them first, filling 2/3 to ¾ of your plate, making sure you’re still getting 8 – 10 servings a day—meaning you are less likely to select processed or high-Glycemic foods. Or the Carb-filled options that are so prevalent on a buffet table or at a restaurant. Or the cake or pie and ice cream the host is insisting you eat for dessert.
What about alcohol?
There are good reasons to avoid drinking alcohol on a regular or daily basis. And you may have decided that at least for now it needs to be avoided altogether. You can still treat yourself to sparkling water with fruit slices (looks like a mixed drink!) or iced herbal tea—the trick here is to order hot tea and a large glass of ice, so that once the tea is steeped you pour it into the glass to chill and add a slice of lemon—this avoids the sugar or artificial sweeteners in commercial iced teas! If you are going to enjoy small amounts of alcohol on weekends or times out with friends, let it be just that—small amounts (remember your resolve from your meditation practice?) and make sure that you are also consuming non-alcoholic options like sparkling or even plain water.
Practice 20 Second Awareness Breaks
A few times each day, stop whatever you are doing, thinking or saying and notice what is happening. Be in the Present Moment. Notice your feelings, thoughts, sensations and breath – your whole state of being – and also notice what is happening around you and to you. Use this time to remind yourself of your Intention to eat, move and live while making choices that support your health.
Remember, the occasional treat is just that—an occasional treat
But if it means falling back into old habits you had vowed to leave behind, that isn’t the direction you intend to be heading! If you’re on holidays or celebrating, allow yourself a small percentage of what you eat or drink to be a treat. Allow yourself to enjoy and even savour it mindfully and with intention.
However remember that “well-meaning” friends may ply you with additional choices because it makes them feel good. So instead, ask your body what choices would make you feel good!
If you do “fall off the wagon,” do your best to let go of judgment and remember each choice you make going forward is another chance to follow your intention!