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Getting Back into a Healthy Living Routine

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

“Back to school” sales remind us that summer doesn’t last forever. For us here in the Northeast, summer is the season of R&R. Many across the country would agree. In fact, over 85% of American adults planned to take time off during this glorious season to enjoy the warmer weather.

While vacation is a time to kick your feet up and reset, living a balanced, healthy lifestyle is a choice we make every single day. And sometimes, it’s not easy to get it right. This is even more prevalent while on vacation. Our environment, diet, and lifestyle significantly impact our overall health, but so do rest, sleep, and relaxation.

Diet and lifestyle are often at the forefront of ‘wellness’ but hustle culture makes it easy to forget about or neglect the importance of taking time to relax. That’s why creating a realistic, attainable routine is essential. It eliminates the need for you to ‘remember’ to rest.

Relaxation response | benefits of taking time off

Whatever it means to you—catching sunrise at the beach, exploring a new city, or simply doing nothing at all—allowing yourself to rest is crucial. It’s been proven that mental health, concentration and memory, the immune system, metabolism, and mood all improve with regular rest periods. We call this a ‘relaxation response’.

Don’t feel guilty for taking time off! Unplugging, reducing screen time, and focusing on uninhibited joys are necessary to a well-rounded, balanced, healthy life.

Stress response | impact of overindulgence

Overindulgence tends to be the perfect complement to any time off. We’re not thinking about rules or restrictions. So we tend to go a little wild. There are cookouts, weddings, mitzvahs, birthdays, pool parties, and holidays. At some point, it becomes easier to just give in.

Salads doused in dressing are often more unhealthy than a simple beef burger. Condiments are filled with artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, salt, oils, and other processed ingredients. Heavy cream, sugar, and gluten are pretty much a given in any dessert. The dopamine hit we get from these treats make them taste even better and can sometimes feel addictive. There’s also a huge mouthfeel component.

But here’s what happens to our bodies when we overindulge…

  • Your digestive system works overtime, causing discomfort and poor quality of sleep.

  • To assist with digestion, the body sends extra blood to your GI tract. Leaving less blood available to the rest of your body leads to headaches and decreased energy.

  • Inconsistencies with your blood sugar cause bursts of energy followed by depletion, or a crash.

  • As the indulgence continues, dopamine, triggered by sugar and fat consumption, begins to tease the pleasure centers in your brain, making you crave more.

After feeling all these physical effects, we start to experience regret and other negative emotions, known as a stress response, which includes the presence of cortisol, the primary stress hormone.

Why did I eat that?

I’m never drinking again.

I have no self-control! I can’t be trusted.

It’s okay! It happens to the best of us. Even me. You may remember when I went on an Alaska cruise a few years ago. Despite my best efforts, I succumbed to the abundant temptation. But I got back on track and you can too.

Importance of routine

There’s a lot of debate around the timeframe it takes to make or break a habit. Two widely accepted answers are 21 days and two months. Regardless of which is correct, changes don’t happen overnight; it’s easier to maintain a routine than it is to make one.

Life is unpredictable. A reliable routine creates structure. In this case, autopilot can be a good thing. Why? The average person makes 35,000 decisions daily. That’s about one decision made every two seconds. Every single day. Having some of those planned out for you helps prevent fatigue, stressors, and triggers that can lead to unhealthy choices.

How to get back on track | restore balance

Vacation or time off aren’t the only triggers to restore balance. Sometimes you just need a reset. But how do we get back on track? Prioritize small things that bring you joy and wellness. Maybe a yoga class or Reiki session-and focus on fueling your body with mostly whole foods.

  • Antioxidants support digestive balance and gut health. Cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries are high in antioxidants and both vitamins A and C which promote immune health and healing.

  • Nutrient-rich oils like avocado and extra virgin olive oil are known to improve heart health thanks to their fatty acids and antioxidative qualities.

  • Positive mood changes and reduced fatigue are almost immediate effects of avoiding or limiting your sugary and processed food consumption.

We can’t expect ourselves to be rigorous and regimented all the time. That’s not realistic. The key here is not restriction, but balance. Highly restrictive lifestyle choices are riddled with temptations, often leading to perceived failure and frustration. Live a little!

I believe the key to healthy living is the 80/20 rule. It’s a great guideline to maintain balance in both your life and diet. Fuel yourself with wholesome food and activities 80% of the time. Then indulge in guilt-free treats 20% of the time!

Working with a health coach

If you have a hard time cultivating a healthy lifestyle, you’re not alone. Over half of Americans say they do not maintain healthy living.

As a functional medicine health coach, I help people dive deep into the root causes of their health issues to finally realize an abundant, healthy, and maintainable lifestyle. I offer a free 30-minute discovery session, so we can learn more about each other. Click here to arrange your no-obligation discovery session and get started on your healing journey today!

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