Fall is upon us and as we get ready (in our heads, at least!) to get back to our routine and get serious about our healthy living efforts, it seems like the perfect time to talk about TREATS.
Treats are awesome! We use them to reward ourselves for a stressful day, for celebrating, for bribing our children, and they make us feel great (in the moment)!
What you may not know is treats are not only one of the primary things that derails or sabotages a healthy lifestyle, but they are also the KEY to any effective diet and reaching your healthy living goals.
WHAT?! Could eating a candy bar be the key to creating a healthy routine?
Yep, you heard me right! But before you go hit the pantry, remember the first part of that sentence, treats are also the thing we can most easily use as an excuse for making an unhealthy choice. They can make hard work less effective and they are almost always the driving force behind, "I'll start my diet tomorrow."
So what are we calling a treat?
More often than not, a treat is an "unhealthy" indulgence. Something we decide to splurge on while telling ourselves this is what will make us feel happy to be alive!
And in a fast paced life, where there are small victories and piles of stress on the reg (hello, #momlife much?!), treats abound.
Treats can be anything from a candy bar, to a trip to a fast food restaurant, to a day spent lounging in bed with a box of wine and some Netflix (or is that just me?!).
You see, each of these things aren't bad, actually. I mean, they're not a healthy choice in terms of AHA guidelines for healthy living, but treats are an essential part of our modern (privileged) lifestyle. Ignoring them or suddenly placing foods (and relaxation) off limits will not only not be sustainable, but can create an unhealthy mindset toward your healthy living efforts and the goals you are working toward - increasing stress and negative self talk. This leads to unwellness in both the mind and body.
So how do we make it work? How do we find the “right” balance that is sustainable for a busy mom as well as effective?
There are two overarching approaches to dieting and healthy living that most diets and fad diets fall under. Regardless of how you’re creating your healthy living routine, chances are it falls under one of these umbrellas. If you’re having trouble seeing results or figuring out the right approach for you, let’s see what might be getting in your way and how you can make some tweaks to really get Savage!
“The 80/20 approach”
Why it’s not working: You probably are making some big efforts toward your healthy living. Attending more and harder classes and/or going out for runs much more often than you had been before your efforts. You’re eating light for what you feel is 80% of the meals you’re eating and allowing yourself a “balance” of 20% indulging. In theory, this should work well and you are stumped! The candy at the end of a long day, a few cocktails each night on the weekend - you’ve given up week night drinks after all!
The good news: You are probably still really upping your health! All the workouts, the strength building (especially if you have a plan behind the type of workouts your’e doing and the results you’re looking for) are awesome for you! And the healthy foods you’re eating are also doing great things for your body.
The bad news: Because your workouts are hard and grueling, you feel like you are working out more than you may actually be, but you are likely not as consistent as you think. The light eating may also be keeping you feeling restricted, upping your cortisol levels (stress), and leaving you feeling depleted and tired. The treats, when you allow them, feel deserved and necessary and if you’re this tired, you must really deserve them! So a nightly splurge of candy or ice cream might be putting you above a healthy weekly caloric intake. And those weekend splurges go much further off track than you may even realize. All of this could be adding 1000s of calories to your week that you’re overlooking.
Solution: You’ve got the 80/20 lifestyle down, so that’s great! Now you just need a strategy! Plan out your workouts each week for what you feel will be effective AND do-able. If you’re consistently not getting to classes or finding the time you need, try smaller and more frequent workouts so you can stay consistent.
When focusing on eating healthy and nutrient dense foods, do it frequently! Don’t skip meals because you want to save the calories for your nightly binge (that’s not healthy, BTW). Make sure you feel nourished and be mindful of your splurges.
Night out? Have a drink or three - but skip the sugary mixers and give yourself a number you feel good about before you start the night. Choose one or two meals a week to go off script, not every night or all day all weekend.
If you want a sweet treat at the end of the day, find something with a calorie count that fits into your goals. And if you want that Shake Shack milkshake or king sized candy bar, make room for it - have it once a month! Those are not daily, or even weekly splurges in any healthy lifestyle. Understand that, find your rhythm and create rules and boundaries that feel do-able but are also strategic to get you to your goals.
“Treats are off limits in a healthy lifestyle”
Why it’s not working: It actually probably is! And it has in the past, too! But keeping the results you got after 30 days or whatever time period you stuck to the rules is where it gets hard. And often you fall off the wagon hard and end up unhealthier than before you started. Or maybe you can’t even motivate to get started! It’s worked in the past, so you know what you need to do, you just can’t get yourself to do it for more than a few days. By cutting out foods you are used to treating yourself to, you are not learning about moderation, mindfulness, or being in control of your body and cravings. So when that treat is back on the table, you run the risk of being right back where you started.
The good news: You have pinpointed what it is that is keeping you from reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself and that’s huge! If you can stick to it, you’ll see results and you’ll feel confident in your ability to progress. That is all awesome! And maybe you’ve gotten some weight off even. Or even hit your goal! That is super awesome! A diet like this can be very effective for fat loss so it’s a great way to hit the ground running and get the results (just don’t forget to focus on the balance and what maintenance looks like when you’re done because you will probably have skipped that step here)
The bad news: This one is super hard for sustainability. Sometimes it’s a matter of hours, sometimes it’s days, and sometimes you can stick to it for weeks or even moths, but you run a big risk of falling off the wagon with no way to get back on. And with so much black and white (or all or nothing), when you stop, you stop hard and finding the will power and energy to start again dwindles day by day. This can be demoralizing and make you feel like you can’t do what you feel your body needs. And don’t forget those little sponges around you! Watch how you talk about food and treats! Calling something bad can lead to big feelings of guilt and shame. That is no bueno for anyone’s wellness.
Solution: Consider finding a way to #treatyoself once a day. Find a healthy and/or small version of what you love and OWN in. Don’t ignore your love, find a place for it! Make sure it fits in your healthy plan and ENJOY it. Or give yourself one bigger treat each week - again, within reason! Once you own it and give it a place in your life, that you choose, you’re taking back the power. You are in control. And that is huge not only for sustainability of your intake goals, but for your confidence and your' ability to roll with the punches and create the mindset that will take you where you want to go.
If you need to cut something out to start making progress, that is legit! Just make sure you have a plan in place for when you are “done” with this approach. These diets are not meant to be a lifestyle change, they are designed to get results. incorporating treats back in to your healthy lifestyle still has to be strategized. You are still in need of creating the healthy habits that will fit into your new lifestyle so don’t discount that step! Easing back in with clear rules and a clear understanding of your new needs is key to staying the course and finding your Savage life.
Ok, mamas! Hopefully this rundown has shown you not only the importance of starting your healthy living efforts by addressing your treat needs, but also help you understand where you need to focus so you can get after your healthy living goals! Hit me up with questions or schedule a free 30 minute consult and let’s start strategizing!
Let’s get SAVAGE!