20 Ways to Bounce Back After a Bad Day

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You've been doing so well. As in: seriously rocking this health and fitness thing. In fact, if you weren’t so modest, you might say you've been a meal planning, calorie-burning, goal-crushing machine. The numbers your doctor is watching are right where they should be, your before-and-after pics are on point and your regular weigh-ins are starting to include more triumph than terror.
And then, it happens: You have a bad day. Maybe it's just a not-so-good day, or maybe it's a very, very bad day.
When you're on a weight-loss journey, there are lots of different definitions of "bad day." It might include the obvious blunders of eating all the wrong foods or choosing couch time over gym time. But it could also mean overdoing it with too much of the right foods, not getting enough sleep or letting negative thoughts or influences deflate your mood or motivation. In a nutshell, a bad day occurs when you feel yourself sliding backward, in the opposite direction of your goals.
The good news? A bad day is just that—a day. Like so much else in this journey, it is fleeting and temporary. And in just a few short hours, you'll get to push the reset button simply by waking up to a brand-new morning.
Countless people—including hundreds right here on SparkPeople—have had bad days, and then come back stronger than ever. Next time you stumble, slip up or even take a headfirst tumble, let this list give you the gentle nudge you need to get back on track.
  1. Own it, log it, and make better choices today! – LUANN_IN_PA
  2. I try to analyze where I went wrong, and how I could do better. And I recognize what I did well on the same day that I overindulged. For example, yesterday I ate too much food at dinner. What I did well: ate planned meals for breakfast and lunch, ate my freggies, exercised [and drank] plenty of water. What went wrong for dinner: I attended a stressful meeting during the meal hour, the meeting went late and I was ravenous, so I picked up a fast food meal. What I could do next time to prevent lapsing: Take a healthy snack to the meeting, keep healthy snacks in the car and have dinner prepped and ready. – ALIHIKES
  3. It does help me to review why I'm here, reread some of my self-motivating blogs, look at my progress instead of my failures and determine to make yet another fresh start. Each day is a gift. – SABLENESS
  4. I say "That was yesterday and yesterday's gone." Really, we all have days when we eat and/or drink too much. Over the course of the week or month, it all balances out. When I have had a day like that, I just get back on track today. Don't go overboard and undereat, and don't go crazy at the gym either. – MARTHA324
  5. I started realizing that I could learn from setbacks in ways that I couldn’t have learned without that setback. In many ways, having a setback is great "adversity training." Let’s face it—life is not a smooth line of success as we all know. There are likely to be obstacles in your path that you’ll need to figure out how to surmount. – SPARKGUY
  6. I write it all down. What I ate, drank and how awful I felt. Then re-group and start over. I would eat a little lighter and do really light exercise [like a] slow, gentle walk out in fresh air. – SPUNOUTMOM
  7. Just eat normally at the next meal. No "I'll make up for it by skipping dinner!" And just exercise normally. No "I'll do an intense two-hour workout to burn the extra calories." – KRISZTA11
  8. I saw a quote here on SparkPeople a long time ago: "If you break one egg, do you throw the rest away?" I remind myself of this quote often—just because a brownie sounded good and I ate one, doesn't mean I am going to chuck the rest of my day and eat whatever I want, or have one bad day and chuck the rest of the week. Anytime is a good time to start again. – ASHLEEMICAHSMOM
  9. Forget about it. Don't feel guilty. I just educate myself more on what I can do to stay motivated and get back on track! – LISA_WAS_HERE
  10. I realized the most important step after a setback was to immediately set and reach the smallest of goals to get right back on track. – SPARKGUY
  11. You are not a machine who can eat right 24/7. Remember, you're trying to change habits learned over a lifetime. That's not going to happen overnight, in a week, a month or even a year. Change takes time.  –ARCHIMEDESII
  12. Control follows awareness. Tracking what you eat helps you to see where you need to cut back...and control what you are eating. If you don't track, you lose control! Just knowing how many calories you are eating is helpful. Knowledge is power! – SWILSON2347
  13. The first thing is to look at the situation and figure out the points where you "went wrong." Again, the idea isn't to beat yourself up; the idea is to search out other solutions so that you have them in your back pocket the next time you find yourself in this sort of situation. – NIRERIN
  14. When I physically feel bad after too much [or the wrong types of] food/drink, etc., I plan to drink lots of water the next day (ginger tea if my stomach is upset). That usually makes me feel better physically. Tracking all the food and getting back on the tracking system makes me feel better mentally. – GETULLY
  15. I "blow it" at least once a week; still losing weight. Why? I'm consistent the rest of the time. One meal, one skipped workout, etc. isn't going to derail me or shake me up…I'm in it for the long game! – JOSIEPOSIES
  16. Try to not beat yourself up. Tomorrow is a new day, so just focus on the good choices you know you are capable of. – ONETHM
  17. Give yourself credit for stopping, and for every positive choice you make. – KRISZTA11
  18. Start the day with warm lemon water. Then just go about eating and exercising as you normally would. – SARAH8711
  19. I think of setbacks as a stumble off the path...sitting on a log and breathing mindfully for a bit allows me to get back on my path. – ITSALLGOOD6
  20. Don't look at good health with an all-or-nothing mentality. If the only healthy thing you did for yourself yesterday was drink eight glasses of water, that's still a step in the right direction. – ARCHIMEDESII

SparkGuy's 7-Step Setback Formula

We can think of no better way to wrap up this list than by sharing SparkGuy's own action plan for recovering from a bad day.
  1. Give yourself a pep talk, including forgiving yourself if necessary.
  2. Review your reasons for being healthy and fit, your goals and vision collage—so that you can build determination to overcome setbacks by knowing what you are fighting for.
  3. Think about what you can learn from the setback and write those lessons down in some form of a journal.
  4. Ask for help and support from someone if you need it (including the SparkPeople community).
  5. Set a small goal—the smallest possible goal that you can reach quickly. Most importantly, write it down.
  6. Go reach that goal and check it off your list.
  7. Repeat steps five and six as many times as possible until you feel like you are back on track!
How do you recover after a bad day?

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Great suggestions! An off time should never deter you from the hard work you have put in! Report
The most important thing is . . . don't quit!!! DO NOT QUIT! Report
These suggestions are spot on...the insight and common sense are commendable. On my less than lovely days, I make it a point to end the day on a positive note. It might mean guzzling water, journaling thoughts, or taking a quick stroll to clear my mind of any of the “can’ts” that are clouding my thoughts. I will clearly use these nuggets of wisdom as well. Report
Good suggestions Report
Great tips to find our way through a bad day and see some progression. Report
Great, thanks! Report
Great article Report
Putting spark guy questions on my journal to go over when i slip and slide on the journey . its always good to be reminded we are not perfect we are human. i have read several blogs where the writer say they never had a slip is a blog I stop reading . Report
This was very helpful thank you!
Thank you for the excellent advice--all words to remember! Report
great advice Report
thank you Report
Some great (and sensible) time here. Thanks! Report
Great points Report
We strive for progression, NOT perfection. Report
Excellent advice. Accountability will take you all the way! Report
Great tips. I need to be motivated!
Thanks for all the great suggestions. Nice article Report
Thank you Report
Great tips! Report
Thanks for the tips Report
Love all the tips! Report
Thanks for the helpful hints. Report
Great encouragement!! Report
thanks Report
Very motivational! Report
Great suggestions! One off day should NEVER deter from working on a healthier you! Report
useful information; thanks Report
great suggestions Report
helpful hints Report
good advice! Report
What a great way to encourage us. We know that each day is a challenge and that how we cope with that will lead to a more successful (and less stressful) journey. Thank You. Report
Thanks for the great information. Report
Thanks. Report
We all have bad days. Like the commercial says, "nobody is perfect." Get up brush yourself off and keep going. Report
Thanks for the great suggestions! :) Report
Great tips! Report
Great tips! Report
Great tips! Report
Great tips! Report
I like number 1 the best own it log it move on. Report
Some great tips - as a gamer friend of mine said when he was starting down a similar path, "Just remember you can hit the reset button at any time." Report
These are great tips! There is a consistent theme throughout! Thanks fellow SPARKERS! Report
This blog was very helpful. Report
Great information. Report
VERY helpful! Especially for us "ALL or NOTHING!" people! Thank you! Report