Get Back to Making Gains After Going Off the Diet Wagon

Kurt Salquist

Bucket Up

Just about everyone who works hard to improve their body through regularly instilled healthy habits like preplanning meals, making time for the gym and withstanding the foods that cause our body havoc will eventually have too much fun at least one weekend this Summer. A weekend consumed with drinking, snacking and waking up on the beach with empty bags of Tostitos and several candy wrappers beside you. Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be quite that extreme, but depending on your body, even an evening sharing a bottle of wine when you have previously been ultra clean can cause the effects many of us may be noticing after this past 4th of July. If you are feeling sluggish, foggy, or have noticed a substantial increase in body weight in just a few days, all of these common effects are a result of an increase in water retention caused by a number of reasons but almost always include inflammation.

If before that weekend you had been avoiding the main culprits that cause irritation like alcohol, sugar, gluten, and other chemicals or preservatives that are often in these foods, this would have left you in a highly efficient state which our body strives to be in that is called homeostasis. People may still be in homeostasis who eat these foods regularly, but for most it’s just a little thrown off center, not where your body can operate its best, but good enough that you wouldn’t know the difference unless you experienced what total optimization of your system was like. So when you are running super clean and your body is kicking out energy far more efficiently, as will all the rest of your systems, you will notice it more when you are not at your best. So throw in something that doesn’t burn so clean and causes your immune system to overreact as your gut lining gets irritated and your body sends additional fluids (imagine when you sprain an ankle or scrape your skin and notice the swelling around an injury, this is happening in your gut) to the areas under stress while retaining more water as it’s not sure how bad this is going to get, your body falls out of homeostasis until it can repair the damage and get back to baseline.
On average, this can take anywhere from 2-7 days depending on the amount of damage and how your individual body might react to this temporary situation. So don’t remain discouraged if it is up to 3-4 days out and you are still way up on the scale. It’s highly unlikely you actually gained even a pound in fat over a couple days of splurging. But we have made it harder for our body to work, this is often where we start when we are attempting to start a diet, but for some it can take multiple weeks to get to the point that should only take days to get back to after a bad weekend if we were previously there.

Getting back on board the wagon: As I just mentioned, the scale is likely to be very misleading over the coming few days, so if you can’t handle the number you might see and feel like it could send you on another bender, plan on staying off the scale until next week when everything should be back to normal if you follow these steps:

  1. Stop eating the leftovers. Give everything you shouldn’t be eating away. Take it to a local shelter or stash it somewhere not easily accessible and save it for a future trip. But getting off the big offenders right away is a must! We can’t start to heal until we do.
  2. Wean yourself off. So we have quit the worst offenders but the cravings aren’t gone and are pulling us back. Well, if sugar or gluten were your fixes, stop at a local farmer’s market and get yourself a healthy treat and satisfy your sweet tooth with some great tasting in-season fruit. For Alcohol, try something bubbly, like La Croix water or Pierre’s and add fruit if you would like.
  3. Drink lots of water. Help flush your system by pushing more water through it. Even though your feet might be ready to pop if they have been swollen with water retention, drinking more water will actually help. Just be careful with sodium intake from the other foods you are eating because this can keep you from expelling your extra water.
  4. Get back to the gym. Even though you aren’t feeling it, this is going to help you sweat it out and increase circulation which may be limited by the increased water retention. By the third workout you should be back to par.
  5. Heal your gut with bone broth. Homemade grass fed bone broth contains the nutrients your gut needs to repair itself. It is also a great source for your other nutritional needs that are easily digested by the body.

Continue to eat healthy but don’t forget to enjoy life once in a while! Sticking to only the best foods 100% of the time is not feasible, but don’t let that justify poor food choices on a regular basis. I see this all too often, eating good meals but having a slice of cake at the office, enjoying a few drinks at home, and then going to a celebration with drinks and more sugar over the weekend, and then these habits become a recurrence nearly every week. It all begins to add up and unfortunately it will affect some more than others. So be sure to write down your goals, and have a reasonable date to meet them by. Share this with a friend or be sure you have a way to hold yourself accountable, consider the “what if I don’t” scenario…and consider working with a professional trainer, it is their job to help you.  If you have said you were going to do it and have not yet done it, then you need to ask yourself – what is going to be different about this time? With your trainer, set up dates along the way with smaller goals that can be measured or checked off that need to be met along the way before achieving your ultimate goals, but be sure to make room for a weekend off here and there.

Enjoy and Live Life,

Kurt Salquist

Therese Martinez, MS, RD, CPT

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