I’ve said it before and I very well may say it again, but here it is once more:
It’s the habits that will make you or break you.
Vacations will not make you fat.
Ice cream dates will not make you fat.
Skipping a workout will not make you fat.
By the same token…
Juice cleanses and detoxes will not make you lean.
A week of strict “clean” eating will not make you lean.
The world’s most intense workout will not make you lean.
What determines how you look and how healthy you are is the habits that you live by, day in and day out.
Small deviations simply can’t shake the foundation that healthy habits build.
So you enjoy a weekend away filled with bottomless French toast and mimosas for brunch and lounging on a sandy beach the rest of the day? Good for you.
So you spend an unplanned week out of the gym because you’re exhausted, or because you’re on vacation, or because you’re dealing with a crisis? Good for you.
So you dive headfirst into a chocolate dessert so rich it makes you moan with each bite? Good for you. (And save some for me!)
So you cut a workout short in order to have time to wash and dry your hair for a first date with really hot fellow? Good for you. (And if things don’t work out, go on and give him my number.)
I just spent 5 days out of town, much of it sitting on my prodigious ass as we drove hundreds and hundreds of miles to and from and around Southern California. I packed no food, planned no meals, and had no idea what kind of workouts I would have the time to squeeze in, let alone the kind of facilities I’d have available to me. It was me, my bikini, a pair of sneakers, and a belly that’s always hankering for something.
I got in a couple workouts (including THIS one and THAT one) at the hotel gym and a glorious base gym. I drank more hotel coffee than I should have. I ate Lay’s potato chips and more tangerines than I can count while rolling around La Jolla beach in a bikini. I had dairy (in the form of a free Core Power protein shake) against my better judgment for the first time in ages. I slept in, I sat a lot, I swam a little, and I went so hard at the buffet that I left dinner with crumbs down my dress.
And in all honesty, there were times that I felt “fluffy.” There were moments that I even considered trying to squeeze in an extra workout in hopes of making myself feel better. But I ignored those feelings because I knew it was the habits, not the little deviations and indulgences, that determine how healthy, fit, and lean I will be. I did not eat less or eat “cleaner” or exercise more or exercise harder in attempt to “atone” for any of these treats and deviations from my normal habits. Sure, I could have made better choices. I ate a couple of things – like dairy and artificial sweeteners – that I know make me feel ill and bloated to the point of looking like I’m in my 3rd trimester (no joke…remember the beans?). But I don’t regret it too much, because I know there’s no long term damage. In spite of eating zero home-cooked meals for five days (aside from semi-homemade pizzas at my godmother’s house…I had 4 or 5 slices) and precious little food that would be considered “clean,” I woke up like this the morning after vacation:
Clearly I’m not exceptionally lean and no one will mistake me for a fitness model, but I look the same as I did before. (I might even look a little leaner than before I left, but that’s just those dang lady hormones doing their thing.) I rarely weigh myself, but when I did a few weeks ago, I weighed 140 lbs. That picture doesn’t look to me like it could be more than 5 lbs off from that. Habits got me to where I am, and vacation and the accompanying indulgences didn’t change that. They just can’t. (If they do, then it’s because they’ve become habits instead of indulgences.)
Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying that my habits will make anyone ultra-lean like a bikini competitor or even that I’m the healthiest example to follow. (Trust me, I really ought to sleep more, stress less, and eat more vegetables.) I’m healthy, I’m relatively strong, and I’m ok with how my body looks most of the time..but I’ve still got a good amount of extra “fluff.”. Maybe some folks would mind that, but I don’t.
The point is that it’s the same fluff I had before I left for vacation. It’s the same abs, or lack thereof. It’s the same body, built from the same habits day in and day out, and a little vacation with a lot of less-than-healthy food did nothing to change it. And here’s what I want yall to remember: Bodies work the same way. You’re not an exception in that regard. Your habits (in combination with your genetics, to a degree) build the foundation that will determine your health and your body composition. Indulgences and treats and off-days and vacations can’t shake that foundation. So enjoy them. Live it up. Make the most of your vacation/brunch/ice cream date/week off/what have you. And the rest of the time, work on building and maintaining habits that support your health and enhance your life. Eat what you want, move how you like, and get on with living.
Take care of those habits, and they’ll take care of you.