MY "DIET" BREAK
First things first, I just want to clarify that I did this diet break neither to change the appearance of my physique, nor to shock my body - none of that stuff. I did it purely for psychological reasons. I won’t be getting into hormones and how it can benefit your progress because that emphasizes the physiological. I am just talking about my experience and what I would suggest for someone curious about what I did on my trip.
Now let’s get into this, what was my version of a DIET BREAK?
For me, it basically represented a time to not think about fat loss or “improving” my physique in any way.
First of all, I do not consider myself as someone who keeps to a diet most of the time. On the other hand, I do watch my portions, eat super clean, and train hard in the gym consistently - in order to better my physique, feel good about myself, build up my strength, endurance, and basically all the good that comes with living a healthy lifestyle. The reality is: maintaining things like food rules, specific limits, etc., can build up and leave you feeling sort of…OVER IT (which I was). I was over chicken breast. I didn’t feel like having egg whites. I was done with salads for dinner, which I usually really enjoy..… I was bored. I didn’t feel that free and would overthink when I’d have treats.
So I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while: give myself unconditional permission to eat whatever I wanted on my trip to Los Angeles (an indulgence which lasted about 10 days). I didn’t go “ALL out”; I’m too in tune with my body to do that. I did it intuitively and listened to what my body and sometimes what my mind wanted, acting on how I felt right in the moment. You see, intuitive eating is doing what feels right in the moment not ONLY respecting fullness. Even though some nights I was full from dinner, going to get fro-yo was what I really wanted, so I did and it was great.
I still had healthy meals because that’s what my body craves and what it’s used to.
I still had 3 meals but more snacks (whatever looked tasty, honestly)
EXAMPLES OF HOW I ENJOYED
- Just because I had frozen yogurt in the afternoon, didn’t mean I couldn’t also have it after dinner! I may have indulged a double frozen yogurt twice during my trip.
- Having sweetened almond milk lattes and not asking for unsweetened milk
- My dinners didn’t really revolve around protein for the vast majority of the trip.
- There were no food rules (ex. no eating before bed, must have protein at meals)
- Eating from the bread basket before a meal instead of being patient
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: NOT caring, knowing it was all okay, and just purely enjoying myself without ANY stress or worry - which felt really nice. If you expect to gain weight, talk to yourself kindly, and love your body no matter what, then you will love and enjoy the process. If you’re not comfortable wearing crop tops for the “cheat” period - that’s totally okay. I wore bigger t-shirts because I just didn’t feel the need to flaunt my 4pm food baby, haha (for the record - my body isn’t used to sugar and I get pretty bloated from treats-no pain, just bloating).
I will tell you all: at the beginning of my food freedom journey, it messed with my head. I kept looking back at photos where I was 10 lbs lighter (Europe), but then I would ensure to quickly bring myself back to reality. “I am where I am supposed to be now”, I told myself. I talked myself into body positivity and self-love at any size.
If you’re struggling with weight gain, I would 100% suggest reading my blogpost about dealing with weight gain - which REALLY continues to help me lol!
HOW LONG SHOULD IT LAST?
- My break was 10 days and it felt right. Everyone is different; it might take a week, two, or three. I just know that I am now ready to get back on track and that if I ever did need more time, I would allow myself to take more time. Good thing (as I mentioned earlier) that my regular diet is not that restrictive and that I do fit in fun foods every now and then!
WHO/WHEN/WHAT CAN A DIET BREAK BE GOOD FOR?
-going on vacation or taking time off from work or school is an optimal time to go on a diet break
-if you feel like food/fitness is taking up too much brain energy, and want to focus on something else
-if you’ve been dieting for a while
AK SIMPLE GUIDELINES / REMINDERS FOR YOUR DIET BREAK:
- Listen to your body (intuitive eating blogpost-respecting your fullness section). If you're stuffed, know that you can eat tomorrow. You can have pancakes for breakfast TOMORROW. Don’t feel the need to rush it or do it for a short amount of time.
- Don’t count calories
- Eat your meals at normal times
- EXPECT THAT YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT (mostly water weight, but expect it regardless and stay in control of your thoughts)
- IT IS NOT A LICENSE TO BINGE.
- Don’t stop training! Working out will make you feel amazing and you’ll probably have way more energy during your workouts
I think what helped keep my weight relatively stable despite the diet break was the amount of walking I did on my trip. What I figured out (because I had no access to a gym) was that in order to avoid gaining more weight (I noticed after 5 days that my clothing started to feel tight), I should just walk more. It made me feel really good and helped my digestion! I also noticed that the less stressed I was, the better my digestion was (that’s material for a whole other post, though) So, I made it a goal to walk at least 18k steps a day. 5 days later, I can tell you 1. my legs are sore as fuck 2. all my indulgences (fro-yo every day - with more toppings than fro-yo - pizza and pasta at Italian stops every night) didn’t catch up as much as they would have without the cardio, because of course #caloriesincaloriesout. I know this may seem obvious, but it’s just a reminder for you guys to know and believe that being active outside the gym WORKS. It really does!
Q: How to get back on track after a diet break?
A: Read my blogpost called “Simple ways to get back on track after a diet / training slip up” (i know this isn’t considered a slip up but it will help ;)
Q: I am way too scared to stop counting macros/calories but I really do want a diet break. Is there a way to do it in a more controlled way?
A: Well, you can either challenge yourself and do it OR you could simply increase your macros/cals.
A diet break will be different experience for everyone. For one person, it could mean having a chocolate bar every day. For another, it may mean going partying and allowing yourself to have 3 cocktails, and for many, it will mean having whatever you want when you want for a couple weeks.
Hope this inspires/helps you guys.
I did the diet break.
I gained some weight.
It will come off as I get back on track.
I will enjoy the booty and not focus on my wider hips.
Why? That shit doesn’t matter!
Wear clothing that looks good and makes YOU feel comfortable.
Work hard, play hard.
If you feel you’ve earned a diet break, then YOU should take one.