Those of you who know me are familiar with the level of discipline I typically exhibit when it comes to taking care of myself. Healthy living was important to me even before I became a health coach. My lifelong passion for health and wellness grew out of my personal struggle with weight as an adolescent. So, I take pride in the fact that I work hard on a daily basis to eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep and meditate.
Every now and then, something happens to throw my healthy habits off kilter. When that happens, I usually feel the not-so-pleasant side effects quite quickly and that is enough to get me back on track. I call it “hitting the reset button.” Even the true die hards need a break from the disciplined life now and then, but the key is to return to those healthy habits as soon as possible.
The thing that threw me off track recently was my annual girls’ weekend in Washington, DC with two of my best friends. As much as I love spending quality time with these two lovely ladies (shout out to Tracy and Eva!), I know that it means staying up late to talk about work, family, faith, politics, and whatever current events are making the headlines. Late nights translate into sleeping in, which leads to a shift in my normal eating schedule – not to mention the highly anticipated indulgence in the finest foods and adult beverages DC can offer (the latter being a rare splurge for me). The blistery wind and cold temperatures also curtailed my desire to join Eva and her canine companion, Bingo, on their morning walks; hence, my main activity consisted of sitting on the couch in my jammies.
To my credit, I did stay true to my morning meditation routine (a non-negotiable for me), but that wasn’t really enough to counteract the other excesses while I was away. I didn’t regret any of it as I had a blast as I always do. However, I knew when I got back home that there were three things I needed to make a priority to help return to baseline:
Sleep: First and foremost, I needed to get back into my normal sleep pattern. I knew that adequate sleep would be critical to resuming my other healthy habits, particularly exercise, as I work out early in the morning. This meant going to bed a little earlier than usual the night I returned home, so I could wake up at my normal time the next day. It wasn’t really hard to do as I was exhausted. I slept well that night and my morning coffee helped me make it through the following day. I then went to bed normal time that night and was back on my usual schedule within a day or two.
Water: I am not sure why I did not drink more water while I was gone as it was readily available, both at Eva’s home as well as the places we visited when we were brave enough to venture out into the cold. I knew I was somewhat dehydrated as my skin became dry and I started to get a headache, which is common for me when I don’t drink enough water. I started to rehydrate on our drive home to North Carolina and chose to drink only water for the next 24 hours (except for my one cup of morning coffee). I was back to my usual water intake within a day or two and felt well-hydrated again.
Exercise: Since I still don’t really love to exercise, part of me was relishing the down time while I was away. However, I also know that my body needs to move in order for things to stay – ahem – regular. Thus, four days off was plenty and I needed to get back on the horse. Fortunately, my new treadmill was scheduled for delivery the day after I returned (my 14-year-old treadmill had recently called it quits, thus also contributing to my decreased activity). I have to admit that I was actually excited to get back into my morning walk routine. I didn’t realize how much I missed it and I forgot how good it feels to start my day off with a little bit of gentle movement. I also taught my regular Nia class mid-week and it felt awesome to dance again.
I am happy to say that I am already feeling back to normal in less than a week’s time. I credit my speedy “recovery” to my solid health habits. In the past, it would normally take longer to get back in the groove, especially when it came to exercise. Taking a few days off would often turn into a much longer hiatus. Fortunately, I have learned from past experience that I feel better when I choose to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s not easy being so disciplined all the time, but these occasional blips – when I stray from the path and have to get back on course – remind me that it is worth it.