by Laura C. Hopkins, PhD, MPSH, RDN, LDN

Winter 2018

To view a PDF version of this article, click here.

Feeling that holiday hangover? And no, I don’t necessarily mean the kind that involves adult beverages. It’s that time of year where we begin to reflect on the past two months. From the Halloween candy to the holiday hurrahs, we start regretting the glorious grub, decadent desserts and deserving drinks. We didn’t see that number on the scale continue to go down (if we have been brave enough to get on the scale at all), or maybe we saw it go in the opposite direction. Our clothes may be fitting tighter or we are just feeling ‘yuck’.

Well, it’s time to reframe that mindset and put any of those negative thoughts and negative energy into action to get back on track. We are going to walk through the “6 R’s” of reigning in the New Year to get back on track and reach the healthiest, best you. I’ve provided several examples related to nutrition, but these steps can be applied to most (if not all) health and wellness goals which you are working towards.

1. Recognize the Reality

2. Reflect on Your Reality

3. Respect the Recharge

4. Reset the Revolution

5. Rebuild your Routine

6. Reach for a Reward

Recognize the Reality

It can be tough, but the first and most crucial place to begin is to know where you are starting from. Whether your current goal is weight-loss, weight maintenance or just having a healthier diet, it is important to realize where you are now. This may mean getting on the scale and checking that number, or reflecting on your current diet habits.

Whatever your goal – take the time to recognize your current reality and where you are now, however scary and dreadful this step may be.

Once you have done this, an important thing to realize is that this is all that it is, your current reality. If you have maintained or continued to lose weight, and your diet habits are on-point, that is amazing! You absolutely could not have asked more of yourself during these trying months. If you gained weight or your eating habits are a little off whack, that is okay. This is just your current reality and everything in life is about how we respond to our realities.

Life is not a perfect puzzle that we can control. Life is messy. It’s a constant cycle of ebbs and flows. The holidays are going to come around every year, personal or family issues are going to arise and work is going to become stressful at times. Life is constantly going to throw new curveballs and new realities at us. It’s how we adapt to those curveballs and realities that push us forward and define us. As we take strides to reach our long-term goals, it will become easier and maybe even routine to maintain our lifestyle when life throws us curveballs, new realities or the holiday time of year comes around again. But until that day comes, it’s all about how we respond to those curveballs and pick back up from where we left off.

Reflect on Your Reality

Now that you have recognized your current reality, life is always going to throw you curveballs and new realities. Those holidays are going to come around every year. It’s time to reflect on how you feel in this new reality compared to how you felt before the holiday madness ensued.

  • How are you feeling both physically and mentally?
  • How are your energy levels?
  • How are your clothes fitting?
  • How do these feelings differ from where you were before the holidays?

It is important to reflect on these feelings and states of being and take them for what they are. Do not let them bring you down; let them motivate you to pick back up, get in gear and hit the ground running (literally or figuratively).

Respect the Recharge

Our overall health, wellness and long-term goals are and should be a priority in our lives, but they are not the only priority. Sometimes we have that one specific, major goal in our mind such as:

  • That number on the scale we are trying to reach
  • That size on the clothing rack
  • That feeling of compliments from other people

Sometimes, we let some other priorities slip, such as time with family and friends, surrounding ourselves with love or just taking a break. The calorie counting, meal prepping and exercise monopolize our time. The beautiful thing about the holiday season is that it’s one of those times of ebbs and flows which allow us to enjoy some of those other priorities in our lives – priorities that are also a crucial aspect of our overall health and wellness. So, be sure to look back on the past couple of months with positivity and respect for what this time brought to your life. It is okay to focus a little less attention on one priority for a while to revel in other priorities. This is the essence of life balance.

Reset the Revolution

You have recognized your reality.

You have reflected on how you are feeling mentally and physically in your new reality, and compared that to where you want to be.

You have positively looked back on the past couple of months and appreciated the recharge.

Now it is time to reset. Get on the upswing of this constant revolution of ebbs and flows. It’s time to get into the mindset. You need to respond to your new reality, appreciate it for what it is and get ready to rebuild your routine.

Rebuild your Routine

It is time to get back to where you were before the crazy chaos of the holidays. You can start small and rebuild one step at a time, or you can pick up right where you left off. Where you start is up to you. You know yourself and your personality best. So, what works better for you?

If you are a one-step-at-a-time kind of person, set small, specific and measurable steps to get there. Do you still have those holiday cookies and leftovers lying around? That’s okay. You can still enjoy them, but limit yourself. Fill half your plate with fruits or veggies, a quarter with a healthy protein and leave that last quarter for your favorite holiday leftover. Limit yourself to one small dessert a day until they are gone.

If you are a roll-up your sleeves and get-right-back-to-it kind of person, chuck that grub and desserts in the trash. Reflect on where you were with your diet plan and eating habits before the holidays. Take the day to equip yourself with what you need to get back to where you were before:

Go grocery shopping

  • Buy more reusable containers to prep and pack your lunch for work
  • Look-up recipes and discover new food ideas
  • And tomorrow, pick up right where you left off!

Reach for a Reward

Every step you take, every stride that you make is an amazing accomplishment. With your long-term goals in mind, you should always give yourself a series of rewards to motivate your actions. This could mean every 5 lbs. lost or every two weeks without eating out. Treat yourself for your success. This could be a small favorite food treat, a spa treatment, a new book, a trip to your favorite park to hike or a new piece of clothing. Visualize your long-term goal and set incremental short-term goals to get yourself there. Reward yourself when those short-term goals have been met. You got there, you deserve it!

About the Author:
Dr. Hopkins completed her PhD at The Ohio State University in Interdisciplinary Nutrition with a minor in Public Policy and Management. Her professional training also includes a Bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in Applied Nutrition and a Master’s of Science in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she also completed her dietetic internship in 2013. Currently, she works as a Post-Doctoral Researcher with The Ohio State University SNAP-ed program and also works as a Wellness Coach and Registered Dietitian for WellAdvantage, a Maryland-based corporate wellness company.