The holiday season often involves lots of spending, eating and drinking – but not so much moving! That’s okay – the festive period is a time for us to enjoy ourselves. But how do you bounce back from that post-holiday slump we can easily slip into in January? Keep reading for my top tips!
1. Hydrate yourself
It’s important to stay hydrated all the time, but especially after eating lots of rich, indulgent foods. Drinking water can help reduce that post-holiday bloat and can promote regular bowel movements. Plus, it’s often said that we sometimes feel hungry when we are just thirsty! The easiest way to stay hydrated is to carry a water bottle around with you. If you’re not a huge fan of water, try adding some natural flavouring like lemons and limes, or drink squash instead.
2. Make a list and go food shopping
Planning your meals for the weeks ahead in January is a great way to take control of your diet and nutrition. Plan your meals and what ingredients you need so that you only buy the essentials at the supermarket. You can also have a look online for some new recipes to keep things interesting or make a homemade version of your favourite takeaway. Planning is key to staying on track with nutrition – if you know what you’re cooking and have all the ingredients to cook it, getting a takeaway and reaching for the snacks will be less tempting. Plus, this is a great way to save money.
3. Reduce your sugar intake gradually
Sugar is known to have addictive qualities – the more you eat it, the more your body craves it. But radically cutting out sugar after the holidays is a mistake you want to avoid! Gradually reduce your sugar intake so you don’t get major withdrawals. You can do this by reducing the size of your sugary snacks or drinks, or by swapping something with artificial sugar in for a natural sugar alternative.
4. Don’t over restrict to compensate for the holiday indulgence
Balance is key when wanting to follow a healthy diet. An extreme, strict diet is not healthy! Don’t restrict yourself or tell yourself you CAN’T have something – chances are, that will make it harder to resist! (We always want what we can’t have!) Instead, make a realistic meal plan and follow it. If you live with others, try and get them involved too so you’re all in this together! Ensure the meal plan is full of food you look forward to eating, which also keep you feeling full. Undereating is more likely to lead to a binge later on.
5. Get moving
Exercise has both physical and mental health benefits. It can help lower blood pressure, aid digestion, and assist in a calorie deficit, which is key for weight loss. It also promotes mood-boosting hormones like dopamine and serotonin – those exercise endorphins will leave you feeling fab! If you’re new to the gym, set aside a couple of hours a week to exercise, and decide what sort of movement you want to do. Don’t be afraid to try something new to help find out what type of exercise you enjoy best – this will help you stick to it! If you’re not a newbie but had some time off from your workout routine pre-holiday, try and ease yourself back in to avoid injury or overdoing it.
6. Set goals
Setting yourself goals to work towards is a great way to motivate yourself after time off over the holidays. These can be smaller, short-term goals such as going for a 20 minute walk each day, or bigger, long-term goals to work towards like a 5km charity run with friends. These challenges can also push you out of your comfort zone and help you to feel accomplished on your fitness journey.
7. Avoid weighing yourself
If you can, avoid weighing yourself. Our body naturally retains water weight after we eat those rich, indulgent foods, so weighing yourself after the holiday is most likely an inaccurate representation of your body weight and might make you feel worse. Instead, focus on how you feel. If you want to track your progress, try measurements, or progress pictures. Remember, happiness comes from within – not external validation.
8. Get your rest!
You might think that all that time off work means you’re going into the New Year well-rested…but socialising and the festive period can be a busy time and leave us feeling knackered! Sleep is so important for recovery, so try and get back into your usual bedtime routine and prioritise 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Being well-rested also means you’re less likely to want to reach for those sugary, caffeine-high pick-me-ups the next day too.
9. Be money smart
On top of everything else, the holiday season is an expensive time. January is a great time to get on top of your finances and plan your future spending. Have a think about your upcoming expenses and evaluate any current outgoings and whether you really need them. Are there any swaps you could make, which would have both health and financial benefits? For example, making your own coffee to take to work instead of buying one each morning, or preparing an extra portion of dinner to eat for lunch instead of buying something in town. These little swaps all add up!
10. Don’t feel guilty
As always, please don’t make yourself feel bad for going off track over the holidays. The festive season is a time for socialising, enjoyment and making memories – that’s a lot harder to do if you’re tracking every calorie! Instead, accept what has happened and move on. Life is too short to stress about the past and things we can’t control. Plus, stress isn’t good for the body or bloating – so you might just make yourself feel worse.
11. Reach out to friends for support
The post-holiday January blues can hit us hard, so reach out to friends for support during this time. Why not meet a friend and set your goals for the New Year together. Social support is known to help people stay active, accountable, and even improve weight loss – plus seeing a friendly face for a chat is always a mood booster. Reach out to your friends and encourage one other to Bounce Back this January!
Written by @exercisingwitheleanor.