For the last week, I have not been logging food or counting calories. I’ve been eating what feels/tastes good, eating at maintenance level, all while maintaining a solid amount of exercise.
I wasn’t aware of it until recently, but apparently this is called a ‘diet break’. The logic is this: a lot of people who are on a long-term weight-loss trajectory eventually get frustrated and discouraged by the prospect of diligently counting calories, eating spinach, and avoiding everything delicious for a year (or more) straight. The diet break serves as a mental break – something to look forward to – to actually make it possible to stay on track long-term. The diet break is not an excuse to completely pig out and binge, however, but it lets you eat more intuitively, and maybe exceed your normal sugar intake by just a little bit. 😉 The diet break actually serves a dual purpose, in addition to providing a much-needed mental boost. It can actually boost metabolism and regulate hormone levels as well! The reality is, no matter how diligent and careful we are, dieting takes a toll on our bodies. Unfortunately our bodies do not like running on a calorie deficit, and will thus try to adjust things over time in order to make up for the deficit. (So basically, if you endlessly diet, your metabolism is going to go dooooooown to almost a standstill.) In my opinion, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of weight loss – even though you are trying to be healthier for your body, it is actively working against you to regain weight, because that’s what it’s programmed to do. Diet breaks can give your body a bit of a ‘re-set’, so to speak. Returning to eating at maintenance levels gives the body a break and allows it to resume normal functioning, upping your metabolism and sorting out your hormones, which gives you an advantage when you start dieting again.
For me, it worked out really well – I just so happened to have a vacation scheduled, and was definitely not going to be sticking to a diet while away. (I mean honestly, who does?! Eating delicious food is half the fun of a vacation, in my opinion. Also, I went to Disneyland, and I’m pretty sure it’s a crime to visit and not eat churros, Dole whips, and ice cream.)
I was walking about 11 miles a day (25,000+ steps), so I definitely didn’t feel bad about indulging a little bit. I was consistently burning over 4500 calories a day, which is HUGE for me. I still ate my veggies and got my protein in, but I also ate a burger and fries, and indulged in some sweet treats. And now that my break is over, I feel great about getting back on track and committing to another 5 weeks of eating clean before my birthday.
While the scale has not been moving the way I want it to, I have definitely seen progress in the shape of my body – my legs have really leaned out, and I have muscles (albeit teeny tiny ones) again! Hurrah! I’m going to keep pushing forward, and hopefully by the time my next vacation rolls around (I’ve got my sights set on Hawaii), I’ll feel confident rocking a bikini again.