Once the holiday season is over, the new year comes around bringing new possibilities, new ambitions and miraculous motivation to get back in shape after the ‘Christmas binge’.
However, the reality is that ‘new year new me’ is much easier said than done. The aftermath of excessive alcohol, greasy food and too many selection boxes can come back to smack us right in the face (or double chins). It can be easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut. For most of us, Christmas leaves us with emptier purses and much tighter jeans. While there is nothing wrong with a little overindulgence, getting back into a normal, healthy routine is essential for both our physical and mental health. Having said that, drastic changes aren’t totally necessary. Sometimes small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on getting back to our post-Christmas selves.
Irish Health claims that one in three Irish people do not eat any breakfast. However, according to certified nutritionist and health coach Deborah Enos, eating breakfast can play an active part in weight loss. A recent study published in July in the journal ‘Obesity’ found that over a period of three months, people who ate breakfast as their largest meal lost an average of 17.8 pounds. Other participants who ate the same number of calories per day with more calorie-heavy meals at dinner and at lunchtime lost an average of 7.3 pounds each, indicating that consuming more calories in the morning may contribute to higher weight loss. Although eating breakfast is recommended for a healthy diet, staying away from fatty foods like such as pastries and fried foods is essential if slimming down is the goal. This is fine for a treat once a week or so, but as an everyday breakfast, it’s important to include high fibre, low sugar and fats.
There are so many ways to increase activity while going about everyday life. First of all, there’s the classic ‘take the stairs instead of the lift’. When going to work or college allow more time than normal, get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way. If driving, it’s a good idea to park a little further away. It may just be a short walk but just making small, conscious decisions regarding fitness and health can make a huge difference. Incorporating exercise into social activities is another effective way to get active. If you don’t particularly enjoy exercising or going to the gym, grab a friend and just go for an evening walk. Catch up with friends while burning calories, plus walking is a fantastic way to clear your mind and reduce stress. Downloading apps such as 8fit and MyFitnessPal are also ways you can exercise from home and track your progress.
Drink more water
According to experts at Authority Nutrition, drinking water can help you lose weight. This is due to the fact that water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate. Studies show that drinking half a litre (17 ounces) of water was shown to increase metabolism by 24-30 per cent for up to 1.5 hours (26, 27). This means that drinking two litres of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day. Drinking water also creates a feeling of fullness, which means you are less likely to snack or overeat. Other than weight loss, drinking water has plenty of other health benefits including increased energy levels and brain function, healthy kidneys, prevention of headaches, clearer skin and an aid for digestion.
Substituting unhealthy ingredients for healthier alternatives is a way of beating cravings. It can be difficult to go ‘cold turkey’ from treats and takeaways, especially after a period of overindulgence, so it is important to recognize that we are only human. Giving into cravings every once in a while is fine, as a healthy lifestyle is all about balance, however, there are lots of recipes out there that provide the ‘fast food feeling’ without the bloated, guilty feeling. Healthy spice bags, vegan pizza and protein pancakes are just some ideas of what can be adapted to a slightly healthier version.
Having a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and punishing yourself for the ‘Christmas binge’ with a harsh diet will not benefit you long term. Studies show that those who follow a harsh, ‘fad diet’ are more likely to fail due to the monotony of the regime. Eventually, you’ll crack as such diets are simply unsustainable. Although the rock-hard abs that we see on our Instagram feeds may be the physique we strive for, they are not formed overnight. Starting now with small steps in the right direction could have you well on your way and will most definitely get you out of the rut that is the post-Christmas binge.
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