Woman taking out a slice of pizza from box. Image: Pexels - Eren Li

Building healthy habits and sticking to your chosen plan or diet is easy until transition gets in the way. Until you go on vacation, move homes, get sick, experience loss, or the holidays roll around.

In the month of September, I moved with my husband from our apartment into our parents’ houses, I got surgery, and we started extended travel to new states and Airbnbs without any of our normal resources. I had just about a million excuses to not think about food at all and eat McDonald’s just to get me through each day. But I didn’t do that.

I didn’t order McDonalds or Ubereats every day not because I couldn’t, not because diet culture tells me it’s bad for me, and not because I was scared to gain weight.

I didn’t order Grubhub every day because I have standards for myself. Not in that “I’m too good for fast food,” that’s not what I’m saying. But more like, “I know what makes me feel best and I deserve to feel best. No matter what transition I’m going through.”

My intention wasn’t, “I want to lose 10 pounds before I go on my first trip”, but “I want to feel confident in my clothes, like myself, and I want my actions to align with my values through this busy month.” Your intention matters and getting clear on it will make the following action items easier and more seamless.

Here are the top 3 actions I took every day during the weirdest month of my life to feel my best, prioritize my health, and still prevent obsessiveness around food.

Grocery store vegetables and fruits

1. Control What You Have Control Over

I have something I call Foundational Healthy Habits that I practice and teach my clients in my membership program. Your foundational healthy habits are yours to decide but some of mine include a morning walk, a high-protein breakfast, a veggie-filled lunch, etc. I focus on controlling only what I have control over. Regardless of where I am or how hard recovery after surgery is going, one thing I have is my legs. I have a door that leads me to the outside. After surgery, my morning walks were about 1–2 minutes and grew very slowly back to normal. But I still had control over whether or not I took that minute to go outside. And still, here in a new city and neighborhood I don’t know, I can go outside for a walk. No matter what the day holds, I’ve controlled a foundational healthy habit first thing in the morning.

It’s the same concept when I’m eating at the Airbnb during travel. I have control over if I cook or order in, I have control over what I buy from the grocery store, and I have control over my portion sizes and my behaviors around eating.

2. Don’t Stress Over What You Can’t Control

While I cook from the Airbnb as much as I can and I tried to balance my plate with protein and high-fiber carbs after surgery, the truth is, I can’t control everything. The first two weeks after surgery eating a raw salad just wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t chew that much and cooked carbs and proteins were all I could stomach. So I didn’t stress over the lack of vegetable variety I might normally have on my plates.

Traveling provides so many new food opportunities and while we cook 90% of our meals in the Airbnb, the 10% of meals prepared in a restaurant aren’t in my control. And to be frank, I don’t want to control it. I want to order the southern biscuit the way the breakfast cafe intended for me to enjoy it.

Restaurant server bringing out food

Did you know that studies show your stress or lack of it while eating has an effect on how calories are absorbed in the body?

It’s crazy and it’s true. Stress, anxiety, and shame around a cookie won’t just have your body processing it differently than it would had you been calm, but it’ll leave you feeling bloated and send you in a shame spiral often causing us to overeat.

3. Make a Plan

Everything goes a little smoother with an intentional plan. When I was preparing for surgery, food was a part of that preparation. Lentil soup with soft vegetables and healing spices was made and frozen until I needed it. Oatmeal with easy proteins and honey was easy for me to grab and go. I set up the kitchen in a way that made it easy to get what I needed.

When we travel we use the “2:1 Rule” on the weekends. It’s not really a rule, more of a guideline, but it’s game-changing. We plan for at least 2 balanced meals home-cooked in the Airbnb and 1 meal or fun snack from a local restaurant, cafe, or bakery. The structure keeps you feeling good and energized, without missing out on the food culture of the new city we’re in.

This is as practical as it gets. Transition doesn’t need to uproot your healthy habits. It shouldn’t! That’s the whole point of building habits and not using quick diets. It’s to put decisions around food on autopilot, to minimize overthinking, to walk away feeling consistent, and confident in who you are.

Next time life sneaks up on you, try getting ahead of it. Make a plan, control what you can, and don’t stress over what you can’t.

With my clients, I focus on shifting habits without restricting or counting calories to achieve sustainable weight loss or weight maintenance. We use practical nutrition so we can live life and feel our best! If you’re ready to dive deep into your habits and feel confident about your choices surrounding food again, book a free consultation with me here!

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