Back on track after the holidays

January 9, 2008 6:07:41 PM PST
It's January, and many thoughts turn to getting back in shape after a busy holiday season. That might mean a sensible diet and regular trips to the YMCA for workouts, along with meditation and calming imagery for stress reduction. The holidays can smother your fitness lifestyle under a torrent of big meals, sinful desserts, and not enough physical activity. By now, your body is waving a white flag of surrender. After overindulging, you might feel bad, almost shameful. Here's a four-step plan to get back on track:
  • Focus on the positive. Rather than berating yourself for overindulging on food, enjoy and savor the experience. A better thing to say to yourself is: "Boy, those meals were fabulous!" And don't forget the larger experience. Remind yourself how wonderful it was to get together with friends and family over a big feast. You'll be less likely to punish yourself with fasting or some other harsh weight-loss scheme.
  • Set your course. Even if it feels like it, you've hardly gained 100 pounds -- it's more likely just a few. If you feel a bit bloated, it may be due to fluid retention caused by excess food and salt intake. That's not permanent -- it'll be gone in a day or two. Plan on getting back to pre-holiday form over a period of at least a few weeks. Setting a course of gradual weight loss is better for your body and the results will be more lasting.
  • Be reasonable. Avoid drastic measures such as fasting. Cutting too far back on calories only dampens your metabolism -- you'll burn fewer calories, making weight loss tougher. Also, severely restricting what you eat by skipping meals or completely avoiding sweets only sets you up to overeat later, since you end up feeling deprived and ravenous. Instead, cut back on portion sizes at every meal to shave a few hundred calories each day, making up for all those holiday treats.
  • Get active. Post-holiday time should include daily exercise. Getting back to your fitness routine, or even starting a new one, helps in several ways. The extra activity burns calories, aiding in weight loss. And it also boosts your resting energy expenditure by burning a few more calories at rest because your body is revved up from the exercise.

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