Healthy holiday habits: How to get back on track

From daily stresses to the demands of the holidays, any number of obstacles can derail your efforts to maintain healthy habits. Getting off track is normal — what really counts is how you respond to setbacks.

By Jenny Vandevelde

Picture this: You're on a roll with your new healthy habits and you feel unstoppable. You've been going to the gym every day after work, sleeping well, packing healthy lunches and steering clear of the vending machine. You're on top of the world! Until ... life happens. Suddenly it's the holidays and you have to contend with the challenges of traveling, hectic schedules and temptations at every turn. On top of that, late work meetings are starting to replace your gym time and personal commitments are leaving you feeling too exhausted to do anything productive at the end of the day.

Sound familiar? Don't worry. You're not alone. The good news is there are steps you can take to get back on the healthy living track.

  • Take time to reflect. Rather than getting discouraged when you aren't able to stick with your healthy routine, take some time to reflect on how you got off track so that you can learn from it. Ask yourself: "Why didn't I stick to my healthy habit? How could I have handled things differently? How can I learn from this experience so that I can better handle similar situations in the future?" Remember, behavior change is tough! It can take multiple tries to figure out what works best for you. Living a healthy lifestyle is a journey, and there will be some bumps along the way. Reflection gives you the opportunity to identify what works well for you and what doesn't so that you can be successful in the future.
  • Recommit to your goal. It's easy to get so caught up in your daily routine that you forget to look at the big picture. You might talk yourself out of a workout because you are too tired or you need to run an errand after work. And then you may convince yourself that you might as well take the rest of the week off from working out because you're already off your normal routine. Before you know it, a break from exercise one week turns into two, and then you wonder: "Why did I think I could keep this up?" or "I'm already way off track. What's the point of trying now?" Don't let these kinds of negative thoughts stop you. Instead, make a plan to recommit to your original goal. Write it on a piece of paper and post it somewhere you will see it as a daily reminder. If, on the other hand, your priorities have changed and the goal is no longer realistic or meaningful for you, then take some time to revise it so that it suits your current needs.
  • Decide on a healthy next step. Once you've taken time to reflect on what caused you to fall off track and have recommitted to or revised your goals, then it's time to take a healthy next step. Don't try to do too much at once. Start with one thing you can do today to help you get back on track. This may be something as simple as drinking a tall glass of water first thing in the morning or going for a short walk at the end of the day. Getting your gears in motion will put you back in a positive mindset and move you closer to reaching your goal.

Remember: Falling off track doesn't mean you failed. It's an important opportunity to learn, grow and figure out which healthy habits work best for you. So the next time you fall off the healthy living bandwagon and feel like giving up, stop and ask yourself, "What is one step I can take today to get back on track and reach my health goals?" Eventually, small steps will lead to big rewards.

Experiments

Try these strategies to get back on track when you fall out of healthy habits.

  • Learn from setbacks by asking yourself: "What has this experience taught me? Could I have handled it differently? How can I use this experience to my advantage when faced with similar situations in the future?"
  • Take time to review why your goal is important to you in the first place. Is it still important to you now? Is it realistic? If not, revise your goal so that it fits your current needs and lifestyle.
  • Think of one healthy step you can take today to get back on track. For instance, if you overate at a party last night, forgive yourself and focus on eating healthy today.
Dec. 29, 2016 See more In-depth