You know the drill: eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. And usually you do just that. But even the most disciplined person falls off the health wagon from time to time. Sometimes a demanding project, a special occasion, or an extended vacation can make it easy—and even necessary—to make exceptions.
But just because you slipped up doesn’t mean you’re doomed to give up your healthy routine altogether. Check out these tips on how to recover from three unhealthy (but all-too-common) moves.
You majorly overindulged
Waking up with a food hangover after, say, an indulgent dinner party might make it tempting to try a juice cleanse to “detox,” but there really is no such thing, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery. “Your liver and kidneys take care of that,” she says. “But you should try to get right back on track.”
Olson recommends drinking 8 to 10 cups of water the following day, and skipping sweets, chips, and other “non-essential” foods. “Eat clean (fruits, vegetables, lean meat) and hit the gym for a solid cardio workout,” Olson says. Consider a cycling class, kickboxing, or intervals on a treadmill.
You pulled an all-nighter
Finishing that last-minute project may have made your boss happy, but now you’re paying the price in sleep deprivation. The best way to recover from an all-nighter is to make up for that lost sleep as much as possible, says Allen Towfigh, MD, board certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
“This can be done in several ways,” Towfigh says. “You can either go to bed earlier the following evening, or if you find yourself struggling to get through the day take a short nap in the early afternoon.” Keep the nap under 30 minutes to avoid being unable to fall asleep the next night, suggests Towfigh, and drink something caffeinated when you wake up.
You ditched your workouts during that two-week vacation
It takes only three days of abstaining from cardio for your body to start losing its cardiovascular fitness, Olson says, and strength starts to wane after about a week. So two weeks of basking on the beach requires easing back into your normal routine in order to prevent injury.
Olson recommends returning to your cardio workouts at about 70% of both your normal intensity and duration. For strength training, start back at 70% of your normal weight and reduce your sets by a quarter or a third (that is, do two sets instead of three, or three instead of four). Allow yourself a week of gradually increasing the difficulty of your routine before you resume your regular workouts, she says.