So You Slipped Up…: Here’s How To Get Back On Track When You’ve Messed Up Your Diet

Ruh-oh... those new Year's resolutions not going quite to plan because the couch/tin of Roses/Making a Murder is way too appealing? Rosemary Mac Cabe's got the down-low from those in the know on how to get right back on track.

Girl Eating A Burger

Ah, January – the perfect time to kick those bad habits and become a new, perfect version of yourself. Until, that is, life gets in the way. What if you’ve just started to #eatclean and you get invited out to celebrate a friend’s engagement at that gorgeous restaurant you’ve been dying to try?

Or how about your new four-times-a-week-gym routine gets interrupted by a particularly bad chest infection? What happens if you injure yourself just as you’re gearing up to present your #besteveryou to the world?

Fear not: a derailment needn’t signal the end of the road. Far from it; as a matter of fact, very few people ever succeed without a few failures along the way, and slipping up is essential for teaching us how to pick ourselves up and try, try again.

With that in mind, we turned to some experts in failure – and success – to ask how we should go about getting ourselves back on track after a particularly embarrassing tumble.

…You ate everything

This is a common quandary among, well, everyone; over Christmas, you stuffed your face with every piece of chocolate and cheese visible. After Christmas, you cured the January blues with Maccy D’s and jammy doughnuts, and now you’re very sorry.

Well, according to dietician Michelle Butler, all’s not lost. “You just need to start afresh,” says Michelle. “Wipe the slate clean, so to speak. Planning is the first thing – shop online and plan your breakfast and lunches where possible.”

Michelle also states that being realistic is key when it comes to setting goals for your diet. “Don’t starve yourself for two or three weeks,” she cautions. “And a juice fast for two or three days… That’s not really a solution.” But it’s not all bad news for the juiceries: “Adding in a daily vegetable juice would be a really good idea – and much more sustainable.”

She suggests looking at your five-a-day as a good starting off point for your new, more realistic goal-setting. “I often see people who think they’re consuming their five a day, but when you look at their [food] diaries, they’re nowhere near it,” she reveals. “Try to incorporate veggies at breakfast – traditionally, Irish people are quite bad at that. But vegetables and protein at breakfast time will set you up for the day, moreso than, say, sugary cereal or a heavy fruit smoothie.”

…You drank the bar dry

What about that dreaded word: detoxing? Is it worth going down the detox route after a particularly heavy couple of weeks?

“The liver cleanses itself,” Michelle confides. “So what I’d really be advocating would be supporting your system with a balanced diet. It always comes back to vegetables, fruit, essential fatty acids and a limited intake of processed foods. It’s not about banning certain foods or trying to restrict yourself.”

Michelle also says that a month of over-indulgence will have an affect on more than just your weight. “When you’ve spent a month eating a lot, your appetite does increase,” she states. “Then you go to a 1,200-calorie diet and, after two days, you think, I just can’t do this any more! It’s always better to think, I’m going to nourish my body.”

…You haven’t been to the gym in three weeks

There are two main ‘goals’ when it comes to working out: summer holidays and Christmas. And often, when those days arrive, we tend to forget about the regular hard work we need to do to keep us there, and limit our squats to those that end with our arse on the couch. So how do we go about getting back into a good routine – and sticking with it this time?

“Book in with a trainer and get yourself a new programme to help get you back on track,” advises Niamh Fitzgerald, personal trainer and owner of Lift Training Studios. “People often make the mistake of going to classes, without any structure – so they might do five cardio classes and one strength class. Training has to be cycled for it to be effective.”

Procrastination, says Niamh, is one of the main things that gets in the way of people achieving their fitness goals. “Once you start thinking, I need to do something, do something!” she laughs. “Look at it this way – if you wake up feeling unwell, you’re going to go to the doctor. It’s the same thing with fitness; call a professional and take their advice.”

…You haven’t been to the gym in three months

It won’t always be enough to just pick up where you left off, Niamh warns, and get back into your old routine; sometimes, a change is as good as a rest when it comes to exercise. “A new programme will give you a new focus and a whole new lease of life,” she assures us. “Your programme should be changed on a four to six-week basis.”

It’s also helpful, says Niamh, to have a goal in mind – whether that’s aesthetic or otherwise. “You might have a picture of how you’d like your body to look, or a pair of jeans you want to fit into,” she says. “For me, it’s always about health – if you’re waking up every Monday and feeling like a two out of 10 – two being shit and 10 being awesome – your goal should be, at least, to wake up feeling like a four or five. It’s about health goals.”

Lastly – don’t worry about how long you took off. There’s no fixed amount of time that will put you back to square one. “If I took a month off training, it might set me back six months,” Niamh suggests. “For someone else, it might only set them back two months – there’s no standard. The immediate thing is: find a trainer and drop them an email. I’m always happy to even do up a short programme and send it to them – I call it the get-off-your-ass-and-do-something programme.” Sounds like it might be right up our street.

Psst! This article first appeared in STELLAR’s February 2016 issue. Our current January/February issue is on shelves now!

STELLAR Jan Feb 2017



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