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What I Learned Taking A Month “Off”

Inadvertently, I took about a month off from exercise and weight loss.

It wasn’t intentional. It was meant to be just a few indulgences here and there. It was meant to be rest time to allow my body to recover from two colds. But somewhere in there I realized I threw it all out the window. I just didn’t really worry about what I was putting into my body food and drink wise. I lapsed on tracking and counting calories.

And I’ve paid the price for that, dearly. I’m up almost 10 pounds. I kept thinking some of this MUST be water weight, that it’ll whoosh off soon, for sure, right? And it’s stubbornly stayed on. In some ways I’m almost impressed. That means I was eating over 7000 calories above maintenance on a weekly basis. Course when I think about it that’s not so hard. Maintenance for me is around 2200-2500 (depending on activity level). An extra thousand calories a day? A couple drinks, a couple slightly larger meals and a healthy portion of dessert will take care of that. And on a regular basis, combined with some colds knocking me down, and boom.

Not to mention my old snacking habits were intense. It wouldn’t be untoward for me to eat 600-700 calories of cookies as a “snack.”

As much as I want to take responsibility, those colds did really set me back to. Even during the holidays while I was eating like crazy, I was still exercising as much as I could. Sure maybe a bit less, but at least 30 minutes daily. And I am proud of that. So when the colds took that off the table, it felt easy to slip back into those old habits of eating lots and not exercising. I even justified it, saying my body needed more food to help fight the cold. Somehow I’m not sure that particular idea has lots of peer-reviewed research backing it up.

So what did I learn in this month?

I don’t think those indulgences were all worth it. Oh some of them were. Absolutely. But there were some better choices I could’ve made. Most of the meals out were absolutely worth it, if only for the company, but I could’ve made better choices at some of those spots. And the drinks...I definitely went overboard on those a bit.

The devil is in the details with these sort of things. I started at times taking a “well the day is shot now anyway” attitude. Friend of mine had a great idea about this - if you find your tire is slashed, you don’t then go and slash the other 3. For me the idea of cheat day isn’t appealing - it’s more about finding ways to fit the things I want in.

I think that’s the long and short of it really - not throwing away my progress chasing intangible moments of pleasure, and especially not on ones that aren’t worth it. The 600 calories of cookies at the end of the night aren’t really worth it for me. The 5th drink is very rarely worth it for me (or a good idea anyway). And the side salad often actually is worth it (seriously, I had some really good ones with dressing on the side). I’ve come to enjoy a simple salad with a grilled chicken breast and some dressing for dipping. Which is BATSHIT INSANE to me.

I set a watchword of intention this year, and I think I need to really take that to heart - make intentional choices, not get too caught up in the moment. Enjoy it, but remember how this feels too, how disappointed I am to have clothes be tight again, to have my progress and hard work set back. It’s an important lesson, and one I hope to take to heart this time.

How My Body Lies to Me

Being Sick