Staying Healthy Through Heartbreak: Week 2

I pulled the blankets in closer, wiped the tears from my eyes, and realized I was alone. His belongings were gone and our contact was limited to business-like conversations about items he forgot in the apartment. Here it was, week 2 post-breakup aka the “Sad Burrito Phase.”

I spent a lot of time alone, curled up on the couch, wrapped tight in a blanket, feeling sorry for myself during the second week after our split. Yup, that’s the “Sad Burrito.” The anger had dissipated and I was left with a pit in my stomach every time I came home to an empty apartment. I wanted to eat, but nothing sounded good. I didn’t want to be alone, but I didn’t want to socialize. I wanted to call him, but I didn’t want him to pick up. So, when nothing sounds right and your motivation falls flat, what do you do?

Step 1: “Embrace the Sad Burrito.”

This is what one of my best friend’s, Kaitlin, would tell me every time I would text her. “Emily, just embrace the Sad Burrito!” And she had a point. It’s important for us to recognize and process the sad feelings we’re going through, even though they’re uncomfortable. It’s much easier to distract yourself with work, eating, drinking, dating, or socializing. However, if you don’t take the time to be still and embrace your sadness, it will linger for longer and you’ll miss out on huge learning opportunities.

Step 2: Boost Your Serotonin.

We can learn and grow from our suffering, but at a certain point our pity-party becomes destructive to our health. It’s important to keep your engine running. That “low” feeling keeping you on the couch is a result of low serotonin (a neurotransmitter/hormone that makes us feel happy), endorphins (mood enhancing hormones), and other hormonal imbalances. Luckily, there are many natural ways to boost those “feel good vibes” that are also beneficial to your overall health and well-being!

The most common known way to increase endorphins and boost serotonin is, you guessed it, exercise! Not all forms of exercise are created equal when it comes to finding your happy again. The best types of exercise to get your groove back are those that get your heart-rate up. I loved going for longer runs outdoors (Vitamin D is another natural way to boost these hormones), doing some more HIIT like in Week 1, and taking Zumba classes (music is my favorite anti-depressant).

Some more of favorite, heart-pounding workouts on Life in Spandex are:

Bounce Back Fat Burning Workout

Bounce Back Fat Burning HIIT Workout

12 Days of Fitness Naughty or Nice List Interval Routine

12 Days of Fitness - Day 11 - Naughty or Nice Interval Routine

12 Days of Fitness Holiday HIIT

12 Days of Fitness Holiday HIIT Workout

There’s also certain foods that help boost serotonin and dopamine.

Complex carbohydrates like oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread and pasta contain tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin in the brain. Pair with some lean protein for an ultimate boost.

Foods containing another brain-enhancing amino acid, tyrosine, can help you feel more alert. Include low-fat dairy, like Greek yogurt, lean chicken and turkey, almonds, avocados, bananas, pumpkin & sesame seeds in your diet to get an extra boost of tyrosine.

Try this recipe for Clean Eating Rosemary Chicken Breasts.

clean eating balsamic rosemary chicken breast

Vitamin B6 can also help increase your serotonin levels back to normal. Find this vitamin in foods like raw spinach and other leafy greens, fish, whole grains, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, edamame), and lean poultry.

Try these recipes:

Gluten-Free Chicken and Waffles

Paleo, Low Carb, Gluten Free Chicken n Waffles

Strawberry Salad

Savor Summer Strawberry Salad

Veggie Omelet

Best Veggie Omelette Recipe - breakfast for dinner

Keep eating your Omega-3’s in foods like salmon and walnuts! Just as much as they helped you regulate your adrenals they will also help boost your serotonin.

Try these recipes:

Top these Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with walnuts

Pumpkin Pie Protein Pancakes Recipe

Healthy Walnut, Chocolate Chip Cookies

MPROVED Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Last, but definitely not least, dark chocolate has been proven to decrease stress and boost happy hormones. Oh yes, any excuse to eat dark chocolate! Just remember to keep your portions in check or it can be damaging on your health and fitness goals.

Try these recipes:

Chocolate Mug Cake

Mug Cake

Dark Chocolate Covered Almond Butter Bites

Healthy Halloween Candy - Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Step 3: Find an outlet.

There were days during the second week post-split where I asked myself, “How can I possibly be productive today?” It’s that feeling where you wish the world could just stop for a second and drown yourself in a chic-flick and a pint of Halo Top ice cream. Although life never really stops, you can find moments to soothe yourself in healthier and more helpful ways than comfort food and Netflix.

This blog is one of my outlets. Writing is my way of processing and growing from hardships. It also helps me create gratifying connections with my readers which gives me a sense of purpose. I’ve also found journalling, reading a new self-help book, hiking, or coloring (yes, you heard that correctly) to be centering. Discover whatever it is that helps you process your heartache and keep moving forward.

Step 4: Be kind to yourself.

The instant gratification of the sad burrito, guilty-pleasure TV, and comfort food subsides pretty quickly. Our pleasure-centers are very sensitive. Once the bag of chocolate chips is empty, the movie ends, or the sun goes down, low self-esteem sets in.

Staying Healthy Through Heartbreak - Week 2

I tend to get anxious and down on myself after doing “nothing” for too long, eating poorly, or having regretful thoughts about the past. It’s okay to not feel like yourself or want to partake in the things that normally excite you. After being with someone for so long, they become a part of you. When they’re gone so quickly, the sense of loss is rooted in your soul.

During this week, it’s really important to remind yourself of all the amazing things that make you, you, without the other person. You are worthy of the partner, career, love, and life that you envision. Make a list of all the things you love about yourself. I’m not kidding. You can start small with things like, “I make a mean cauliflower crust pizza” or “I always listen to my loved ones when they need to talk.” Every time you start to doubt your self-worth, look at the list and read it until you believe it.

Step 5: Call on your troops.

Secluding yourself to isolation will only make you feel worse. It’s okay to rely on your friends and family to help lift you up during these times. When romantic love is lost, it’s important to acknowledge all the other types of love around you.

Step 6: Put your d*mn phone away.

What’s harder than going through a break up? Going through a break up while all your friends are announcing engagements and posting wedding photos on social media. One of the easiest ways to make yourself feel worse during a trying time is to start comparing your life-path to others.

A very wise woman (aka my mom) once told me, “You can’t get off your life path because it’s yours.” It’s so true! Our paths may not always be direct, but they’re ours, and the trying times are what help shape us into the amazing people we are today. Endings are only beginnings. It’s not necessarily that you’ve lost something, but rather made room for something better or more suitable.

Remember, most people only post the good times on Facebook. Each picture or status update is only a snapshot of his/her life. Be grateful for what you have in the present moment, get clear on what you want in your future, do everything in your power to work towards it, and then leave the rest up to the universe.

Step 7: Dance it out.

When in doubt, dance it out! When your thoughts become negative and your actions become unproductive, take a break. A dance break to be specific. Whether it’s alone or with friends in your living room or out at your local bar, shaking your hips and getting lost in some upbeat music always does the trick. Speaking of music. You may want to listen to Ed Sheeran ballads on repeat. But when you’re feeling really low, happy songs need to be your go-to. Whether you feel like being upbeat or not, sometimes you got to fake it ’til you make it!

Staying Healthy Through Heartbreak - Week 2

Speaking of music, don’t worry, I’m not leaving you guessing! Here’s your Staying Healthy Through Heartbreak Week 2 playlist full of upbeat, dance-worthy jams to rock out or workout to!

Closer by The Chainsmokers

All in My Head (Flex) by Fifth Harmony

Gossip Folks by Missy Elliott

Fire (Yes, Yes Y’all) by Joe Budden

Setting Fires by The Chainsmokers

Tied Up by Casey Veggies

LUV by Tory Lanez

BURNITUP! (feat. Missy Elliott) by Janet Jackson

All My Friends – Wave Racer Remix by Snakehips

Bright Lights by Vice

Tell me what are your best coping mechanisms for when you’ve become a “Sad Burrito?” Tell me in the comment box below!

Health and happiness,

Emily

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Hi and welcome to Life in Spandex! I'm Emily, a personal trainer who believes there should be no secrets standing in your way to getting fit. I am sharing my knowledge here on this blog in order to help you reach your goals. Fitness should be fun, eating healthy should taste good, and feeling your absolute best is the ultimate goal. Let's get fit together!
23 comments
  1. […] Staying Healthy Through Heartbreak Week 2 […]

  2. Sounds like you’re doing great. I’ve so been there, it’s not easy. Sending hugs πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Monica!! πŸ˜€

  3. Ugh heartbreak sucks big time! I can totally relate to all of this. Putting your phone away is definitely what helped me and being surrounded with friends. Oh and Halo Top…so freakin good! πŸ˜€

    1. Haha when in doubt…. ice cream ;-p

  4. I’m still so sad for you. Have you met a new guy? You know you have to share now that you’ve taken us through this series. The food you make looks yummy.

    1. Mmaaayyybbeee ;). Haha sharing will happen eventually xo

  5. Em I am just in love with this series. I have had my sad burrito time for sure. The way you describe not wanting to be along but not wanting to socialize is spot on. I love all the healthier options for tasty comfort type food you shared.
    Yes! The getting off your phone for sure. I had to go to a wedding and a bridal shower within the first month of my breakup and I just wanted to die, but had to remember to be happy for my friends.
    It is very true, you rarely see a photo of a couple fighting on instagram, it’s only the happy times. Watching 7 (yes 7) of my close friends get married this year when I lost the person I thought I’d be there with one day was hard. But it wasn’t about me.
    Again, such a GREAT series. I really do relate to the feelings here. It’s been almost 5 months and I had what I would consider my first real date this weekend and to be honest it went great but the second I got home I felt this sadness that I was back in the dating pool and this fear that you get when you think you could like someone new but don’t want to deal with the pain again.
    Okay I’ve rambled enough but thank you so much for posting this.

    1. I am loving hearing about your similar experiences too!!! I’m sorry to hear about your first date experience. Keep putting yourself out there. If we live in fear instead of love, we’ll never find it. And if it’s something you want, you have to take risks. Love to you xoxo

  6. So important to remember to be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up with the many things we could have done differently, especially if they all hinge around being prettier, skinnier, etc., etc. I know it’s hard with heart ache involved, but the one thing I’ve learned is if they wanna go – let ’em. Life eventually works out like it’s supposed to. Cheers to continued healing.

    1. Cheers to that!!! πŸ˜€

  7. I agree with your friend that you need to let yourself feel the sad. It’s part of getting over it. But yeah, exercise and things like dancing are great pick-me-ups!

  8. Aw, Emily! You will get through this. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things! Stay healthy and focused <3 You are awesome!

    1. Thanks Julie! This happened a few months ago so a lot of healing has been done πŸ™‚

  9. My last break up was a long time ago and I wish I had known about these tips back then… Loved reading this!

    1. Thank you so much Melanie πŸ™‚

  10. Woman you are beautiful. Plus love all the healthy food.

    1. Aw thanks candy πŸ˜€ xoxo

  11. I just love this post, Emily!! One thing you suggest here that I need to do is to make a list of things you love about yourself. I really should do that. I tend to focus way too much on what I’m not instead of what I am…and then that just makes me feel worse.

    1. Then you definitely need to take my advice!! It’s all about perspective, right?

  12. When I experienced an awful breakup I would put on the most upbeat music I could find, wrapped my hands and go at the heavy bag with all my anger. It would take about 30 minutes until I would be completely exhausted. I was able to get out almost every emotion possible.

    1. That sounds so exhilarating and therapeutic Kara

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