So, you are back from summer vacation. The kids have started school, all your colleagues are in the office, and it feels like life is suddenly on overdrive.
What the H@!# Happened?
Just a few days ago you were feeling super relaxed. When you were on vacation your tension just melted away.
During re-entry, you started to hear all kinds of unexpected compliments: You look great. Did you lose weight?
And perhaps you were even a little befuddled. After all, you really let yourself go while you were away.
You didn’t go to the gym, or work out nearly as much as you usually do. You drank a lot more wine and to top it all off, you ate a lot. The scale even affirms that you gained weight. Clearly it is time to get serious about getting back to your usual fitness routine and diet.
Hold on just a minute!!
The scale is just a small measurement of overall health. A weight gain can be indicative of so many things, and if your body looks better and you feel better, perhaps there is a little assessing to do before getting back to “normal”.
I see this happen all the time with my clients when we start working together again in the fall after they’ve left town for a few weeks or a few months. While they’re seriously distressed about weight gain and “poor” eating habits, it visibly appears as though they’ve lost years from their life in a matter of weeks. Shoulder tension, bad posture, and even chronic pain seems to have dramatically gone away.
Getting back to business rarely if ever seems to build on the benefit from an extended break from daily stress and that is a big failing on our parts should we choose to ignore it.
The biggest cause of aging is our stress and the number one thing we can do to maximize on the benefits we’ve gained from our vacations is to measure acceptable stress and stress management through the lens of how we feel in the days following a good break.
So, how can you change the way you handle eating, exercising and other everyday tasks to maintain that lowered stress level you returned with?
Well before you allow that thought to take over, consider this: If you do everything in your life EXACTLY how it’s been done before, you are correct, that is indeed impossible. But if you employ a different strategy, not only is a different result possible, it becomes highly probable.
Let’s take a closer look at the “faulty” health and fitness strategy you employed on vacation:
1) You had a lot of leisure time. You weren’t constantly in planning mode, trying to finish last minute work on projects, and working every second of every day.
2) You exercised for the joy of moving. Maybe you walked, swam, did a little stretching, but it was more a part of your daily lifestyle. Something you did to relax, start your day, or cap it off. Not something you did because you were supposed to do it or something that was part of beating yourself up in any way.
3) You rested when you were tired. You went to bed earlier, slept later, and took breaks from exercise when you needed it.
4) You ate what you enjoy and you enjoyed what you ate. It is totally appropriate to eat according to desire. You are actually more likely to overeat when you deprive yourself day after day. The more forbidden the fruit, the better it tastes. If you consistently tell yourself no, your inner child only wants it more and will eat more (often without even tasting and enjoying it) when the opportunity finally presents itself. If you allow indulgence from time to time, you will naturally gravitate towards healthier more nutrient foods most of the time (I know I do).
5) You connected regularly with friends and family. Having strong relationships is satisfying. It helps us process stress more easily and provides an amazing support network for us. If we are supported, we don’t indulge in unhealthy behaviors that often come from feeling lonely or not good enough.
6) You spent time on yourself. Whether it was through reading a book, a magazine, meditation, or a nap, you gave yourself space to rejuvenate without a specific purpose or end in mind. Leisure time is so important. We can’t work on our goals every moment of every day without burning out!
7) You lived in the present. Much easier when you don’t have such a lengthy to-do list, or a house to clean, I know. But we all can choose to live each moment of everyday in the present. Children do it naturally and the more we select how we will focus our time, and avoid overworking and multi-tasking, the easier it becomes to do this.
All of these strategies result in an overall reduced state of stress which is vital for us to function at an optimum level, lose weight, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps you shouldn’t eat quite as much as you ate, or exercise quite as little as you did, but in the quest to “fix” that, let’s not erase all of the benefits you gained by taking the pressure off yourself to be perfect.
Just think, how different would you be if you integrated just one of these ideas into your life on a regular basis?
Now it’s time to take action.
In the comments below, share your insights with me and the Leap Ahead Fitness community.
How is your body different post-vacation? What is one thing you did on vacation that you could continue to do in your everyday life to maintain lower stress and better health and fitness?
Me? I’m going to continue to enjoy wine on a daily basis. What the H@!#! You only live once!!
Health and Happiness,