How to Keep Your Healthy Habits During Your Summer Vacation
Millions of people suffering from chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain find it tempting to avoid the motions that cause pain. But exercise actually retrains the brain and body to manage pain and is often the very best way to help lessen the pain, avoid surge
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Summer is a time when our habits can easily get off track with vacations, lots of summer treats, and fun (and lazy) activities. Staying on track with healthy habits whether it’s exercise or healthy eating can be a challenge during the summer vacation months.
Let’s look at this scenario with Tiffany. As a health coach at Hinge Health, I’ve been working with Tiffany to address her chronic knee pain through sensor-guided exercise therapy, remote 1-on-1 coaching, and personalized education. Tiffany has plans to go on a trip to the beach with her family. She knows there will be lots of temptation with drinks, food, and especially ice cream and cookies! She’s worried about over-eating and over-drinking. Keeping her weight down has been a key part of reducing her chronic knee pain. She knows that completing her exercise therapy from Hinge Health has been incredibly helpful in starting her day off with a healthy mindset & keeping her knees strong. But she’s worried she might forget to do her Hinge Health exercise playlist because she will be out of town.
The Power of 3
I advised Tiffany to use a simple tactic in this situation known as “The Power of 3.” This approach offers a way to choose 3 healthy daily actionables that are non-negotiable. The goal is to prioritize doing these 3 actions each day whether you’re in Hawaii or on your couch. Choosing 3 things is a personal commitment to your health without feeling like you have to do it all, especially at a special event or vacation. Consider this your personal mantra for your health when you are out of your normal routine. The power of 3 is very important because it allows you to feel empowered to take care of your health. If you did nothing else that day, at least you can feel good about doing your 3 healthy things. There is so much power in that.
Some examples of things to choose from:
I will move my body for 30 minutes
I will complete my Hinge Health exercise playlist
I will set a drink limit. I will have only 2 alcoholic drinks at the BBQ party
I will make sure that I watch my portion sizes
I won’t graze over the snack table
I won’t go back for seconds
I will only have 1 treat
I’ll say no if someone tries to push food on me
I will drink at least 4 bottles of water
After I shared this tip, Tiffany had a much more positive outlook on staying healthy even on vacation. She shared her 3 choices, “Even though I am going on a trip, I will make sure I move my body for 30 minutes before festivities begin, I will only have 1 treat, and I will make sure I have at least 4 bottles of water.” By choosing her 3 things up front, Tiffany felt more in control of her day, even though it was outside of her normal routine.
How to combat obstacles that may derail your healthy habits
You may be wondering--once you select your “Power of 3,” how do you combat obstacles that can trip you up and derail your healthy habits while on vacation? Continuing a healthy lifestyle during the summer months is definitely easier said than done, especially when you run into “Naysayers” and “Food Pushers.” These obstacles are everywhere and they could be family members, friends, coworkers, or even strangers. “Nay-Sayers” are people who notice you’re trying to be healthier and sometimes unknowingly, try to break your stride. This could come in the form of: “That’s not going to work” or “This is actually the right way to be healthy” or even, “Why are you doing that? You don’t have to.” “Food Pushers are people who insist on making you eat what they want you to eat. They might say “You have to eat these cookies I made,” or “Please go have seconds, you have to.” Even after turning them down, they persist and say something along the lines of, “I’ll save some for you for later.” It can be easy to give in to these pressures, but sticking to your healthy habits will make you happier in the long run.
5 strategies to use when you run into Naysayers and Food Pushers:
1. Don’t tell people about the changes you are trying to make. When you go on and on about the new diet or workout plan you’re on, it invites people to comment and question your choices. Of course, privately tell individuals who will be supportive, but there’s no need to tell everyone. This is especially important now, when your social interactions are all on social media, and there’s not much in-person conversation. Instead, make it a personal, private journey and don’t post about it on social media. You don’t need their input! Share your successes with close friends and family at the appropriate time. Your results will speak for themselves. This way, people won’t have room to judge and instead, will celebrate your hard work!
2. It’s OK to say no without feeling guilty. It’s easy to give in when a Food Pusher says, “Just one cookie won’t hurt.” When you are confronted with this line, a simple, “No, thank you. It looks delicious, but I’m stuffed” should do the trick. When you’re on vacation or at a summer barbecue it’s okay to enjoy yourself and have a treat, but if you’re sticking to your Power of 3 choices, it’s important to stand up for your health. Don’t let anyone stop your momentum.
3. Offer to bring something. Say you’re going to a summer barbecue. You can offer to bring something that’s within your goals. This way you know you have a healthy option and won’t feel like you have to break your cycle. Right now, since social gatherings are less frequent, this advice can apply in your own home as well. Let’s say your kids want mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets for dinner, but one of your Power of 3 choices is to eat less fatty foods. Always bring a healthy alternative to the table. In this situation, you could have grilled chicken with a salad while your family also gets the meal they want.
4. Don’t take it personally. Often, the comments Naysayers and Food Pushers say have nothing to do with you. They feel they have to defend their own unhealthy choices by bringing you down with them. Understanding this will help you navigate these situations and help you take the pressure off when you get comments and questions.
5. Have a conversation. If a Naysayer or a Food Pusher keeps pushing you and it feels like they aren’t being empathetic to your decisions, it may be time to have a conversation with them. Explain you are doing what is best for your health and you would really like their support. More often than not, people are understanding after a heart-to-heart.
Make a plan so you don't fail
Sometimes falling off the wagon can send you into a downward spiral of unhealthy habits that are hard to break again. By using the Power of 3 and 5 strategies to overcome Naysayers and Food Pushers, Tiffany kept on track while enjoying time with her family. When she returned home, she was able to jump right back into her normal healthy lifestyle without feeling down about her summer vacation.
In short, Tiffany set herself up for success with a game plan. Benjamin Franklin shared, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Don’t let those fun activities you have planned for this summer push your health to the side. Take control of your own health. Plan so you don’t fail and most importantly have fun!
Through sensor-guided exercise therapy and remote 1-on-1 coaching, Hinge Health offers a holistic approach to reducing chronic back and joint pain. To learn more how the three pillars of exercise therapy, education, and behavioral health drive long-term outcomes, request a demo below.