It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and many of us are coming off of several days on which our actions haven’t exactly been guided by physical health.
There’s the night before Thanksgiving, where we might meet up with friends from high school at a hometown bar.
There’s Thanksgiving day, which for many of us means lots of turkey, wine, stuffing, gravy, and various desserts.
The day after Thanksgiving often includes a repeat with leftovers, and more opportunities to spend time with more people we only see once or twice a year.
Then there’s Saturday, marked by rivalry football games, beers, and tailgating food.
By the time the Sunday after Thanksgiving rolls around, many of us have been eating, drinking, and living in a way that’s got us bloated, thinking a little foggy, or just feeling a bit “off”.
While times like these – spent celebrating life through delicious food and drink with family and friends – can certainly work wonders for mental and emotional health, after a few days we might start thinking about refocusing on our physical health.
For some, it’s not too difficult to get back to our normal routines.
We get back to our own homes, buy our own groceries, and get back to preparing our own meals.
For others of us, breaking a pattern of indulgence is a bit more of a challenge.
We tell ourselves we can’t let leftovers go to waste.
We tell ourselves one more dessert won’t hurt.
We tell ourselves we’ll start tomorrow (just like we did yesterday).
We might even just think that we’ve done so much damage that the effort of undoing it is too much to handle.
On top of all this, we know that soon enough we’ll be tempted to indulge again.
There are more holidays coming down the pipeline.
Hanukkah, with its latkes, sufganiot, baked olive oil doughnuts, and gelt cookies.
Christmas Eve and Christmas, bringing cookies, cakes, scalloped potatoes, puddings, and cannolis.
New Years Eve with who even knows what kind of debauchery.
Then there are office parties sprinkled throughout.
These celebrations often include not only food, but also wine, beer, eggnog, mulled wine, and cider.
Even though we may have already been indulging for close to a week, and may already be feeling and seeing the effects that our actions have had on our progress, making any kind of effort to get back to our habits over the next month or can seem futile.
This is especially true for those of us with perfectionist tendencies, who look ahead at all the upcoming opportunities for indulgence as reason enough to just not even try.
The truth is, there will never – ever – be a perfect time to get back to our routines.
Even when we aren’t in the midst of the holidays, life will offer opportunities for us to deviate.
There will be weddings.
There will be evenings with friends.
There will be date nights.
There will be birthdays.
Unless we completely isolate ourselves – an approach some of us might mistakenly, sometimes even deliberately, choose – there will never be extended amounts of time without temptations to indulge.
Some of us might find it quite easy to indulge “just a bit” from time to time without going completely off the rails or having a major setback in terms of our health and fitness goals.
Other of us might find it easier to just say, “no, thank you”, and enjoy these occasions without any kind of deviation.
If, however, you’ve neither been saying “no, thank you” nor indulging “just a bit”, and have fallen into a pattern that that isn’t serving you, you might need another strategy to get back on track.
You might need a shift in your mindset to get back to consistently living a way that leads to the lean, strong, healthy body you want and deserve.
Focus only on the next meal.
What’s done is done.
You can’t do anything about yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that.
Likewise, you can’t do anything about Christmas Eve, or New Years, or your company holiday party in two weeks.
What you can do, however, is focus on the next meal.
That’s all you can control right now, in this moment.
All you have to do – all you can do – to break this pattern is make the next meal you eat one that honors your goals.
Just the next meal.
Just the next bite.
That’s all if take to steer the ship back in the right direction.
You don’t need to undo anything.
You don’t need to compensate for anything.
You don’t need some grand plan to get “back on the wagon”.
You don’t need to have every single meal for the entire month of December planned out.
All you have to do is nail this next meal.
That’s all that matters.
Don’t worry about being perfect.
Don’t worry about how you’re going to handle future temptations.
Don’t “worry” about anything, actually.
Just break the pattern.
Plan, if necessary, and act.
If you need to make a quick trip to the grocery store, do it before your days are again occupied with work and other commitments.
If you think you might need to distance yourself from temptations, you can give away your leftovers, set them out for wildlife, or just toss them altogether.
If you’ve also been out of the gym, make a plan to go this evening, even if just to see where you’re at after your time off.
Hell, just go for a walk after you eat.
All you need to do is take action.
Chalk this all up to being a nice break, if need be.
Understand that the next meal is all that it takes to get back on track.
The past is gone, and the future will come in due time.
For now, just focus on this next meal.
You’ve got this.