I recently went to Portland for a few days. It was a short trip where I didn’t really get out of the city or really experience Oregon any further, but I knew that would be the case ahead of time. Luckily, one of the things I was excited about when it came to my Portland trip was the fact that it’s known as a vegan Mecca. And I was ready to eat.
Here’s a sample of what I ate on my last day there (this was my first video filmed completely on my iPhone and I apologize for the shakiness and scale!):
A few days later, after four days of vegan junk food and way too much beer, I flew home to Canada feeling a little like dirt. I was drained, bloated, and really felt nothing like me. It’s amazing how your body responds when you punish it.
I decided to set myself the task of getting back on the right track as soon as I got home. We all generally know what it takes to be healthy, but actually doing it is a whole other thing. Here are a few of the things that helped me get back to feeling myself and just how I stuck to them.
Eat your greens
One of the best things you can do for your health is to up your intake of leafy green vegetables. No matter how simple this may seem, it’s just way too easy to let it slide. A salad is not the most exciting prospect for most of us, but we (especially vegans) really do need the abundant vitamins, minerals, and fibre that leafy greens provide.
Quick tips for upping your intake of leafy greens
Buy pre-washed greens. The convenience of skipping the washing and chopping steps will make you more likely to use them.
Drink green smoothies. You don’t have to consume them for breakfast, but the benefit of that is knowing that you’ve at least gotten your fruit and veg intake in early.
Add them to everything. To sandwiches. To stirfries. To whatever you are cooking.
Get creative with your salads. Make them more inviting by adding things like avocados, beans, nuts, corn, salsa, dried cranberries, roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, etc.
Lower and track your sodium intake
I use Cronometer to track my intake (at least, when I feel like I’m getting off track with my diet). In addition to things like calories and macro breakdowns, it also gives you a measure of a variety of different nutrients (including sodium).
I don’t pay too much attention to most of the nutrients listed (unless it seems to be low every day), but this is a good way to get your head around just how much sodium is in food—it can be a lot more than you expected.
I’ve tried to go little-to-no sodium, but I find that keeping it under 1500 mg per day is a good balance.
Cutting down your sodium after an indulgent week is a good way to jumpstart your return to a healthy diet. This is a good motivator because the results, in terms of your improved energy levels, skin, and body, come so quickly.
Quick tips for cutting your sodium
– Cook for yourself
– Only add salt after cooking, not during (or try just adding it on top of your food after you serve it)
– Swap salty for spicy (try cayenne powder or chilli pepper flakes)
– Swap vinegar for salt (if you’re into that—I’m not so much)
– Eat a sweet breakfast rather than a savoury one (a tough one for me, but you get used to it)
– Just tough out blandness for a few days and your tastebuds will adjust
Get back into an exercise routine
You should have a regular exercise routine in your normal day-to-day life, whether that means HIIT videos on Youtube, training for marathons, or just going for a brisk walk every day. We all let these things go sometimes when our routines are interrupted, but you should get back into it quickly when you have the chance.
Quick tips for restarting your exercise routine
Do something that you can measure (e.g. record your running time today and then see how you do on the same route in a few days). Seeing improvements in your fitness and abilities is the best motivator.
Exercise in the morning. It doesn’t have to be first thing, but whenever you can manage. Get it out of the way early and then everything else is just extra.
Do something different. You don’t need to be a runner or a cardio fiend. Lift weights, do squats, try some pushups — just make sure you do more than a couple of reps/sets.Indulgent vacation? Get your health back on track! Click To Tweet
Get back into healthy habits
There are a few points that should be obvious, but that can be easy to let slide when you’re away from your regular routine. Here they are.
– Drink water. Drink it first thing in the morning, throughout the day, and an hour or two before bed.
– Cut out oil. As much as we are trained to cook with oil, it’s often unnecessary. Sautéing vegetables in water is not a terrible thing, though you may miss the oil at first.
– Stick to whole plant foods and avoid too much added salt or sugar.
– Get your heart rate up and sweat at least once every day.
– Spend time outdoors. For your physical and mental health.
– Forgive yourself. We all mess it up from time to time.
The following infographic from Cotopaxi is also a good reference to help you keep on the right track while pursuing an active lifestyle: