By Courtney Lewis Opdahl |

The message popped up in my inbox from coach Lauren: All it said was, “You good?” My first thought:


I’ve been struggling lately. After we moved, I was excited to cook more and experiment with new ingredients in the kitchen. I was buying food at a newly discovered farmers’ market and natural-foods grocery store. Kyle and I were grilling often, and I was making hummus from scratch. Even though I hadn’t been exercising in my usual manner, I still managed to walk/run a 5K in late July — and made my time goal of 45 minutes. And I lost another 3 pounds.

But I wasn’t adhering to my usual clean-eating program. I was skipping breakfast during the week (note that intermittent fasting can work really well for some, but usually I find that I overeat at lunch and dinner; read more here). Even when I was good during the day, I started giving up at dinner, opting for Chinese take-out, rice bowls, burgers, and a big, risky splurge for me: cheesy tortellini in a cream sauce. (I bargained with myself, saying I could have it since I asked for extra veggies.) I was allowing myself to drink more alcohol than normal (usually, I only drink one day a week if at all; in the past year, I would have two or three glasses of wine or cocktails each month instead of each week). And my sweet tooth returned, to the point where I was eating chocolate (albeit dark) nearly every night.

I puttered around the house unpacking boxes, but even stopped walking the dog — a shame because we are surrounding by nature and trails in our new neighborhood.

Mostly, I’ve been collapsing on the couch, then heading to bed early. The latter is great; the former, not so much.

Everyone needs a break now and then — in fact, we encourage it at the magazine! — and there’s much research around the necessity of recovery days, getting more sleep, and de-stressing through yoga, meditation, and visualization (which I find to be both relaxing and empowering).

But what happens when you find yourself taking too many recovery days? What balance is right?

That’s definitely a personal question, one that we usually answer with, “Listen to your body.”

So I asked my body, and it told me it’s doing great. It’s feeling tired, perhaps more mentally than physically, but would love to move more. Maybe I could keep it as simple as swinging the kettlebell and jumping rope, two pieces of equipment I already have at home? Why not shorten my route for a walk, taking the loop around our street inside of the 3- or 6-mile paths around the nearby lakes? How about getting a friend or Kyle involved, so we can catch up on our day while being active instead of over a cocktail?

The other piece of information I needed to examine was the big why for returning to old habits.

So I thought about several factors:

  1. I’m still in a fragile place, and being accountable is crucial to my success. Getting back to sending my nightly promises to Lauren — and publishing them here for my readers — will, I believe, help me get back on track.

I’m so excited for you all to read “A New Path,” whether that’s online or in the magazine (or both!). You should get your copy of the September issue later this week or early next (preview of my story below). And you can find more helpful and fascinating stories in this issue, which is live on our website today.

As for my healthy-living work: Yes, I’m good, but I can be better. Let’s keep going together.


Expert Answers: Healthy Weight Gain, Avoiding Knee Pain During Exercise and More

COMING CLEAN: Mini Workout: Sprints + Pushups