It’s probably one of the hardest things to do to be honest – the body and mind finds it hard to switch out of holiday mode once you’re back. You’ve spent a week or 2 often overindulging in foods you wouldn’t usually eat and drinks that you wouldn’t normally consume. This all leaves you feeling tired and sluggish, and finding the motivation to gym and eat healthy is the last thing you want to do.
If you’ve been overdoing it throughout the holidays you may be tempted to go to extreme measures to undo the damage. This can promote a “binge and restrict pattern,” which may or may not have negative impacts on your metabolism in the short term, but over the long term it lays the groundwork for an unhealthy relationship with food.
There are a few smart, reasonable adjustments you can actually stick with can loosen up those too-tight jeans in no time.
Don’t Jump on the Scales
This is my number 1 rule – don’t jump on the scales. You will have gained weight. You will feel and look bloated. This is normal, relax. Give yourself a couple days to implement the below strategies and not only will you feel better, but the scales will also tell a truer story after a few days of normality and routine.
Start Eating on Schedule Again
Each day, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and eat again every 3 to 5 hours. Starting your day with a healthy meal and enjoying evenly spaced meals will maximize your metabolism, regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, and level out your appetite. I know it may be tempting to cut way back, but starving yourself completely backfires. Eating too little forces your body to switch into conservation mode and burn fewer calories, which means you’re more likely to hang onto body fat.
I know that this isn’t news to anyone, but I cannot express how important it is to flush those toxins from your body and help release the extra weight and bloat that come from the over-indulgence by getting plenty of water. Drinking more water flushes out excess sodium to help you quickly de-bloat, and it will get things moving in your digestive system to relieve constipation. Aim for 2 to 2.5 litres a day (about 8 to 10 cups) -Half your body weight in ounces is the general rule of thumb. Water also supports optimal metabolism and some research shows it may naturally curb your appetite, but it can also help you feel better fast.
Cut Back, but Don’t Cut Out
Often when you get back from holidays, you start thinking that by cutting out a food group (usually carbs) this will lead to loosing that gained weight quicker. DON’T. Cutting out carbs will completely force your body to burn protein for fuel instead of using it to support and maintain your calorie-burning muscle.
So instead of cutting carbs out, just cut back. Pair veggies and lean protein with a small amount of a healthy fat and a small serving of whole grains.
I recommend aiming for 2 cups of veggies (about two baseball’s worth), 3 ounces (deck of cards) or a 1/2 cup (half a baseball) of a lean protein such as tofu, beans, fish or poultry, a 1/2 cup of a whole grain such as quinoa, barley or wild rice, and a little bit of healthy fat like extra-virgin olive oil, chopped avocado, or sliced almonds.
Fill Up With Fibre-Rich Foods
Getting our digestion back on track after holidays is essential/. We need both soluble and insoluble fibre to do so and can get both from plant food. Soluble fibre is liquid-absorbing and filling and some great sources include Oats, Chia and Flax Seeds, Beans and Berries. Insoluble fibre, which helps move things through the bowel and shuttle out the bad stuff, can be found in Brown Rice, Wheat and Veg.
Catch up on Sleep
Late meals and alcohol can hinder you from getting good deep, healing sleep on holidays that your body requires. Make sure to give a bit extra each night to start catching up on those lost hours.
Get Back To The Gym and Get Active
I’ll admit, this is easier said than done. Take little steps. Start by setting yourself new goals. Perhaps aim for 3 sessions a week to begin with, then add more as the weeks go by and you start to feel yourself again.
Get a little more active. Add in evening walks, or decide to make an effort to walk to work if you can. Keep your NEAT levels up, the extra calories burned here along will make all the difference. Remember exercise can really help boost not only your mood but also your digestion.
If getting back into the gym is a struggle, why not attempt to go to a gym class. These are excellent calorie burners, but not only that – it will also be a definite gym session in the week that you have to stick to. Try a HIIT class, a spin class or a circuit class – all excellent high intensity choices – and far more motivating than trying to put yourself through your paces in the gym.
And my number one tip – Don’t STRESS!!!
Your body will regulate itself as it should. The bloating will subside, and I can guarantee you that after 3-4 days you will be back feeling yourself and looking your old self too. Holidays are meant to be relaxing and enjoyed. We work hard enough all year round; don’t let the stress of ‘holiday weight’ ruin your time away. Life is too short.