We all know about the quest for that elusive bikini body, a lot of you were on workout missions in the build up to your summer holiday. Now it’s time to start heading back to your various realities and the glaring fact that the summer body you fought for was gone in week. To be fair, a lot of you are probably trying to stay active while on your summer break, but the truth is your body just can’t keep up with the sheer volume of calories being consumed in booze and all the wrong types of food.
I can guarantee that as your break goes on, the workouts get less and less, and pretty soon that bikini goes into hiding. So as you start to head home, it’s time to start thinking about getting back in shape before the demands of life kick in, as well as that depressing realization of just how much money you’ve burned through. Here are some tips to avoid descending into a pit of laziness and over-indulgence.
I’m not a fan of cleansing supplements, or any type of dietary detox product. What I’m talking about here is going on the wagon. Booze will pile on the calories as well as decrease your eating inhibitions (meaning you make poor dietary choices when drinking), and also make it harder to perform on the exercise front.
Sure, you may be bummed about going back to the grind after a nice break, but don’t compensate for this with alcohol. If you were drinking like it’s an Olympic event during your trip, then it’s time to give your liver a break. By itself, taking three to four weeks off from drinking alcohol is going to do a lot to shed those unwanted pounds.
When I think of the amount of calories in restaurant food, the first word that comes to mind is “obscene.” Restaurants want repeat business, and they get this by making their food taste extra good. They make it taste extra good by piling on lots of sugar, fat and salt. Not only does this amp up the calories to the aforementioned obscene levels, but also it tastes so awesome that you lose control and overeat. This is bad.
To drop the holiday pounds, you have to come to terms with the fact that the holiday is actually over and get back into the habit of regular grocery shopping for healthy ingredients to make nutritious, calorie-restricted meals.
Get back into the exercise routine
I’m a big fan of working out while on holiday, but most people aren’t. Most forget their exercise routines the moment to check-in to their hotel; many just go to the gym once. It’s okay; I understand how difficult it is after an alcohol-fuelled night out.
If this is you, then it’s time to get back to the sweaty socks and labouring lungs. You may need to ease your way back in if you’ve totally slacked off. Either that, or just take the consequences. Also, try to find ways to fit in some extra activity. This can be as simple as deciding to pack a healthier lunch (remember the rule about not eating out – skip those lunch meetings) and taking a walk at noon with a colleague while eating something healthy.
Go to bed hungry
Hungry, not starving. I believe that right before bed is the only time it’s ever okay to be hungry. You need to keep your appetite “satisfied”, not “full”, throughout the day in order to provide energy. This strategy also keeps you from losing control of your appetite later on in the evening and engaging in night-eating.
If you stay properly fuelled throughout the day, eat a moderate dinner, and then stop eating after that, therefore not taking in a bunch of additional calories before bed, then the pounds will really fall off. Again, before bed is really the only time it’s okay to be hungry, because overnight your appetite resets and you start off with a clean slate of eating a good breakfast the next morning. Just don’t be so hungry that it affects your sleep or that you need to get up and eat in the middle of the night.
Find Something You Enjoy Doing, and Start From There
Getting into the right mindset is only half the battle. The rest, obviously, is actually putting your plans into motion. If you’re already struggling with your weight, or if you have no idea where to start when you return, this can be one of the biggest hurdles to get over. What kind of exercise should you do, and how much? How can you tell if it’s working? How can you get the biggest bang for your diet and exercise buck, as it were?
Frankly, the best response to all of these questions is to ignore them. If you focus on results out of the gate, or think in terms of optimal benefit instead of building habits, you’re already on the wrong track. I’ve known people who took up running or spinning because they thought that’s what they had to do. They hated it, but kept going until something happened and they missed a day. It may have been the holidays, a late meeting, or illness, but whatever it was, that was all it took to get them off the horse.
Instead, seek out exercise that rewards you mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Find things you enjoy doing, at any activity level. Don’t get caught up in the “all or nothing” mindset, where you think you have to buckle down and do an hour of cardio or strength training every other day for the rest of your life, start slow with something you know you can do, even if it’s once a week. It’s more important, especially when you’re getting started, to focus on what you can do and step up from there.
Remember to be patient, it may take a couple of months for the weight to drop off, but you’ll get there.