Summer may seem like a distant memory as the leaves turn red, the warm breeze develops a bite and the days get shorter. However, the effects of your summer-time over-indulgence and under-activity may be very real and very present.
Having just returned from a late summer holiday myself I have had time to reflect on exactly how difficult it can be to get back into the healthy living routine, especially when you’ve had a few weeks of living in the ‘eat what you want, when you want’ mentality. So, I decided to write down the things that help me to kick back into action and ditch the ‘holiday mode’.
You might be struggling to find the energy or motivation to make change so here are my top tips to combat the post-summer slump.
1. Accept it
We all need a good holiday at least once a year and with this often comes excess food, drink and a distinct lack of exercise or anything resembling movement…. Unless it’s walking to the pool bar to fill up on sangria.
It’s okay. You’re allowed to let yourself go, spend time with friends, family and generally splurge for a few weeks over summer! It’s okay because this isn’t your usual daily routine (I’m hoping!), you aren’t going to irreversibly change your body and health over the course of a few weeks (unless you really do go very hard). So do not look back with guilt, disgust and lethargy, just accept that you may have put on a few pounds and your usual 5km run may feel like a marathon (!). This slump you feel post-holiday doesn’t need to last for more than a few days or even a few hours. Acceptance and then determination is all you need.
2. Draw a line in the sand
There may be a few days of overspill after holiday. Those holiday sweets, boxes of local delicacies, wine, spirits or simply your bodyweight in giant toblerone from the airport are all there to be devoured as soon as the plane lands. You know yourself that it’s going to be hard to get back to your diet or your exercise regime the day after holiday, so don’t panic! Set yourself a day when the ‘holiday mode’ is switched off. This might be easy to determine- it could be the day you go back to work or the Monday after holiday.
3. Get rid of the left overs
So you bought far too many boxes of Baklava, Cornish shortbread or one too many bottles of ready made sangria. Well get rid of them! I don’t mean thrown them away. Maybe take them around to a neighbour, friends at work or the milk man. If they’re in the house they will present a temptation, no matter how strong your resolve. The same goes for any change in regime- if you’re trying to eat healthily, to cut back or to count calories, then having the temptations around you in the house is going to make your job much harder.
4. Set yourself some goals
Without some clear objectives and milestones you will find it more difficult to see and track your progress back to your pre-holiday glory. Goals should always be SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. In other words they should be measurable goals that will push you but are realistic enough for you to stick to over a set period of time. Break them down into long, medium and short term goals. For example, my long(ish) term goal could be ‘To lose half a stone of body weight in 6 weeks’, my medium term goal from this would be ‘to lose 3lb of body fat in 3 weeks’ and my short term goal would be ‘to set 3 days each week where I will exercise for at least 45 minutes’.
Write your goals down and put them somewhere in your house or on your phone, laptop or in your car where you can see them and work towards them. They’re excellent reminders when you start to slip into ‘holiday mode’ again.
5. Get some support
You might be pretty determined and have a clear plan of action or maybe you’re stuck in a rut, lack inspiration or just need a big old kick up the behind. Whatever the reason, you might benefit from professional support, advice, programming or nutritional advice. Most personal trainers, fitness coaches and nutritional advisors won’t tie you into lengthy programmes costing the earth. You could benefit from a few sessions with an exercise or nutrition professional just to get you heading in the right direction. Also don’t forget the importance of accountability. If you know that someone is truly interested in your progress you’re less likely to sway back to ‘holiday mode’. For more information on my current prices and packages click here.
6. Partner up
Everything in life is easier if someone has your back. A holiday partner in crime can easily turn into an exercise or diet buddy with the right approach.
If like me, your other half has a weakness for Pringles, Dairy Milk Fruit ‘n’ Nut and pizza, make sure you’re clear with them that you need their support to make the changes. Involve them in the process to show them that their input is important to you.
The same goes for work colleagues, friends and family. Getting their buy in and support early on will help you along the way. If you have a friend with a similar set of goals who wants to go on the journey with you- even better! Why not consider group or couples training?
7. Write yourself some notes
I use post-it notes as little prompters and reminders. I stick them on the fridge or on food packages. They remind me to keep my hands off, or not to eat after a certain time, or of my portion sizes. Writing littles messages and notes when I’m feeling stronger and determined helps me to stay strong when it’s late and I’m tired, bored or peckish. You could even stick a picture up on the wall of the beautiful dress you’re going to fit into or a place you’re going to go after you’ve reached your long-term goal. Or keep a photo as a screen-saver on your phone that you see every time you head to the gym, out for a run or are tempted to lounge on the sofa instead!
8. Keep a food and exercise diary
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts as a great way to discover those eating habits you never knew you had. I encourage the use of food and exercise diaries with all of my clients. As well as giving you a clear picture about the food and drink you consume and the exercise you do throughout the day, the practise of writing down your intake can make you think twice before putting it in your mouth. Keep a digital copy on your phone, a paper copy left in the kitchen or use an app.
9. Remember rest days
When it comes to exercise, burn out is a real thing, which makes rest days and a proper night’s sleep vitally important. You may be an all-or-nothing sort of person, but do remember to give yourself a few days off each week. Aim for 3-4 moderate to intense workouts for around 30-45 minutes per session, per week. Get a good balance between your cardio and resistance exercise too. For some HIIT workout ideas using just your bodyweight or limited equipment check out some of my previous posts: My top 10 fat-blasting moves to try today and HIIT Zoo: Top 10 animal-inspired bodyweight moves
10. Don’t weigh yourself every day
It’s important that you keep track of your progress, whether that’s through circumference measurements, weighing yourself on the scales, or even better using scales that measure your body composition i.e. fat percentage, muscle mass, bone mass, body water etc. However, do not make the mistake of hopping on those scales too often. Give yourself at least a week, if not two weeks, in-between each weigh in. Your weight will fluctuate throughout the day, never mind the week, so avoid checking in too often. By weighing every 2 or 3 weeks you’re more likely to see your average weight loss more clearly.
11. Don’t expect overnight change – stick at it
There is no magic potion, mystery move or secret supplement that will help you shed the weight sustainably and safely or build your fitness and strength in a healthy way. The only way to get fitter and/or leaner (obviously depending on your goal) is through good nutrition and a solid exercise programme. It takes time and I’m sorry to say it’s not easy. On average, and depending on your starting weight, you can look to lose 1-2lb of fat per week (faddy diets without exercise will see you losing lean mass not just fat!). This still needs you to work very hard and control your eating and drinking habits. Stick at it and you will see change!
Remember that it’s never too late or too soon to start, so what are you waiting for? Move more, eat well and be happy!
Good luck everyone! Get in touch for more information or comment below if you’ve got your own tips to share.