Why Wednesday – Why You Need a Break Sometimes

A coworker told me recently that she took a break from Weight Watchers. She was feeling burned out and didn’t feel like counting her points, or making healthy food choices. So she took a week off. She said she saw a gain on the scale. I believe she’s back at the Weight Watchers program and doing well but she said she felt bad about taking the break.

I’m here to say that sometimes you NEED a break.

For me, my lifestyle changes were less about being on a “diet” and more about changing bad habits so I don’t feel like I’m restricting myself. I don’t feel burned out with what I’m doing. I have in the past.

When I first reached my goal weight (150 pounds) I needed a break. I had been so “good” for two years, restricting certain foods, counting my calories in a strict way, and I just needed a break from it. I thought I had it down–I thought I could stop counting my calories and maintain my weight loss. I was wrong.

I stopped counting my calories for about 6 months or so. I was going through a hard time, felted really stressed and I had started taking Celexa. I took the Celexa for 10 months. That in combination with no counting my calories packed on the pounds. I saw the scale creeping up slowly but ignored it. I was also training for Hood to Coast. I ended up gaining 15 pounds.

This was an eye-opening experience. I realized that I’d have to count my calories probably forever (and I also realized that medications can alter my chemistry in a drastic way). I started counting my calories again, stopped the Celexa, and a year later finally lost those 15 pounds.

15 Pounds Heavier

Since that experience I realized that every once in awhile I need a “reset.” Instead of stopping ALL good habits for an extended period of time, I just do it for a day or two. I’ll stop counting my calories for a day or two and it’s the mental break that I need. Then I’m right back at it.

Sometimes our exercise routines can get just that: routine. If you’re starting to dread your workouts, you feel more stress about working out than you should, you don’t feel better after working out, you might be burned out.

  • Take a break. Don’t workout for a few days. If you split your Rest Days like me (Monday/Thursday for example), make them back-to-back instead. Add an extra Rest Day.
  • Put on your calender one weekend a month where you Rest/Stop Counting Calories. But make sure you start back up on Monday! Don’t fall off the wagon completely.
  • Change your routine. If you normally run, try lifting weights instead.


I was feeling stressed and burned out before my vacation. The trip to Arizona was a WONDERFUL reset button for me. I got my physical activity in but I did different things! I ran in the desert twice. I swam outside. I hiked A LOT. It was the perfect way for me to do something different and enjoy my activities.


So don’t beat yourself up if you need a break. A break keeps you on track.

QUESTION: Do you have a reset? How do you stay on track while taking a break?

 

 

 

14 Responses

  1. Great post, Lisa! I do think that breaks are completely necessary sometimes, but I think teh difference between making permanent changes and yo-yo dieting is that you pick back up sooner and you need less of a release than before. In my prior life, I would disappoint myself by being “bad” and then the cycle would continue and I would eat my guilt and shame away until it was deeply hidden, only waking up to realize I was even more guilt ridden than before. Now, I approach it the same way you do and look at those breaks as necessary, and allow myself a day or two once in a while to splurge and be a little “bad” but its not even close to how bad I used to be, and it doesn’t go on for weeks/months. I feel better when I treat my body better, so it’s win-win!

    1. I’m with you, Beth. I feel so much better after I take an extra day or two. I don’t really deny myself anything in my current “diet” but I just eat less of it all. If one day out of the month I need to mentally unwind and stop counting calories I don’t make myself feel guilty for doing so. I used to. But you’re right, not getting in the shame/guilt spiral makes a difference in my outlook.

  2. I take different types of breaks. well, maybe they aren’t really breaks, but I change things up. Sometimes I will only weight myself monthly instead of weekly. Sometimes I will weigh more often than that. I experiment with different food challenges, like no sugar or lower carb. It keeps things interesting for me. Otherwise I get mindless. The creep is insidious and hard to stop, especially if you aren’t paying attention.

    1. “The creep is insidious and hard to stop, especially if you aren’t paying attention.” So so so true! That describes the 15 pound creep for me. I dismissed the first few pounds I gained on Celexa and then suddenly it was 15.

  3. I’m with you 100%, really great post! I am at the beginning of this journey, and what I try to do is exactly what you said, trying to to change bad habits into good ones, not too restricting so I can keep it up for a long long time. I also agree on the break principle. I am lucky to work 4 days a week, and even if it meant lower income, being able to have Wednesday off have made my life a whole lot better. As for my diet, for now, I decided that it was okay to be more relax on week-ends. I’m still working on the concept of not feeling too guilty about this, but I’ll get there!

  4. I can not agree with this enough.
    Taking a break and letting our minds and bodies heal and grow is JUST as important as hardcorebadass exercise and clean eating.

  5. You’re absolutely right, a 1-2 day break is essential sometimes. This is why I do the “cheat-day” strategy with my weight maintenance. I use Saturdays to eat whatever (within reason, not 10 cheeseburgers in one sitting). It works great for me. Everyone has to find that one strategy that works for them.
    I think you’ve got it down.

  6. GREAT post Lisa! I recently realized I had to give myself permission to take a break (my break was fitness-related) – it showed as a small (0.4 pounds) gain on the scale, but I was ready for it and have moved on…hopefully this week I’ll be back on track! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one out there who feels this way 🙂

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