Summer’s over

In March 2023, Trucker's Health7 MinutesBy Laura HulleyApril 1, 2023

Trying to snap back into a healthy routine after a holiday can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to get back on track.

Speaking of ‘snapping’ back into a routine, don’t do it. Trying to start too many new habits simultaneously can feel overwhelming. Take baby steps and slowly introduce your previous (or new) practices. For example, you used to get up five mornings a week for the gym. Now aim to get up two mornings, then three mornings, etc. Slowly building back up into routine won’t feel like such a shock to your system.

Also, be mindful of workout intensity. If you have had two weeks off, don’t try to replicate the exact workouts you were doing before the holidays. It can be disheartening if you try to pick up where you left off and struggle to complete what you once found easy.

Try to get back into set meal times. Being on the road can make keeping a mealtime routine challenging, but structure is important. It cues our body to know when it should be hungry and allows us to plan to get enough protein and nutritious foods. If you find this overwhelming, set meal brackets instead of hard and fast rules around mealtimes.

For example, breakfast between 7am and 8:30am, lunch between 12:30pm and 1:30pm, etc. This is not an exact science, but it provides enough leeway and ensures you eat at respectable and largely similar times of the day.

Go to the grocery store. Running on leftovers and takeaways can snowball from a few days to a few weeks. In the past, I know I’ve lived off Christmas ham and scorched almonds for a good few days. It’s so important to have the right foods in the house to make good choices with a variety of foods.

For example, get your meat at dinner (if you’re a meat eater). Ensure you have veggies and a carbohydrate such as rice or potatoes to finish off the meal. Check you have nutritious snacks to take on the road with you – fruit, nuts and crackers are good. The more organised you are, the better choices you will make – even if you just focus on nailing one meal each week. For example, the first week back can be about ensuring you have a nutritious dinner every night.

Set yourself goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself by overpromising or putting too much pressure on yourself so early in the year. But it can be beneficial to set a doable and manageable goal. After all, how good does it feel to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself?

It doesn’t have to be a lofty one, but if you get to the end of the month and you’ve completed it, you will feel accomplished and perhaps even motivated to set another goal for next month. Setting mini-goals is helpful and less overwhelming than saying, ‘I will walk a marathon by the end of the year.’ It is very easy to lose sight of a goal if the timeframe is too long or seems far from your reach. Of course, aim high but ensure that you’ve set up mini goals along the way, so you feel like you’re achieving something each month while working towards your monster goal.

Have a support network. If you feel like you’ve tried everything to get back into a routine, but you’re still really struggling, it may be time to employ the help of friends, family or a personal trainer. Teaming up with a friend who is also working to get back into healthy eating and exercise is helpful. It is not about someone else making you feel guilty because they’ve done more or eaten healthier; it’s about having a bit of accountability while you are still getting yourself back on track.

You may find that you only need this support person for a few weeks to get you back on the right path. Or you may enjoy it so much it becomes a regular thing.

Don’t dwell on the past. It is common for people to let their hair down and have an absolute blast in the holidays – which I highly encourage. But when you’re back to work and back to reality, you think, ‘I wish I didn’t eat and drink so much. I wish I exercised more.’ If so, ask yourself – is this serving me? Is this making me feel positive? Enjoying a break from routine and having fun with friends and family is essential. But now’s the time to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘I had an awesome holiday but will get back onto a healthy routine now.’ You can’t change what you’ve done, but you can decide where you are going. If you’re feeling sluggish and tired due to over-eating, drinking or not being as active, think about how good you feel when you look after yourself.

Keep a food and exercise diary. This doesn’t suit everyone, but if you think it might keep you on track, then definitely give a journal a go – even if it’s just for a few weeks to kickstart yourself back into good habits. If you find that it makes you obsessive or creates negative feelings around eating, please don’t use this method – you have to see what inspires you and creates positive thinking and habits within yourself.