Published on December 30, 2020 by Cori Grămescu
The temptation to get your weight back under control after the holidays is very high but poor results show and stress should make you think why it does not work and there are better things to do and goals to set during this time.
The fitness/diet industry makes the largest part of its revenue in the 5 weeks that follow Christmas holidays. Diet culture has inoculated the idea of guilt after the holiday season and offers radical, strict “detoxes”, “rapid weight loss diets”, “HIIT fat burn programs” that promise to help you “regain control over your body”, “ditch the holiday fat” and “get lean fats”.
Before setting any goals, escape the holidays’ guilt
Like most people, you may have made the mistake of believing such misleading, guilt-inducing claims. After all, losing fat fast and getting “back” in shape in 5 weeks seems like an irresistible promise. The media, the diet industry and the fitness market have all induced the idea that our body is a machine that must be programmed/pushed to “burn fat”, creating a perpetual, negative circle of heavy restrictions/bingeing episodes and subsequent distorted body image, weight shame and a troubled relation with food and our bodies.
Escaping this destructive pattern is easier than you think, that’s the good part of the story. It’s going to take longer than you expect, and it will often feel quite alien, and that’s the more complicated aspect. But it’s manageable and the change you will feel and see will be worth the trouble of getting there.
Eat better food and give yourself time to learn to enjoy natural food
What we choose to eat is fully under our control. When most of your meals (to be read as 8 out of 10) are made with natural, unprocessed ingredients (meaning vegetables, fruits, fish, lean meat, natural dairy products) you may indulge from time to time in your favorite treats and still reach a healthy weight, without feeling that your life is an endless list of restrictions.
A reasonable progress is to opt to have 2 days of fast food per week in the first 2 weeks of dietary change and to reduce soda to only a small serving per day. For the next 2 weeks create a mixed pattern – eat 2 days of fast food, but eat it at home, accompanied by a serving of vegetables (a salad is the simplest option) and gradually reduce French fries and added sauces. In the next 2 weeks opt for a single day of fast-food eating, no soda, and increase the focus on veggies, while cooking the rest of the meals at home from natural ingredients.
Aim for small, constant improvements in your daily life
Most Americans eat fast food 3.4 times per week. Switching to healthier options requires some significant effort – to buy and cook food and to adjust to the lower taste intensity of home-cooked meals, compared to fast food. Remember, fast food products are ENGINEERED to deliver intense taste from food additives and chemicals.
Most of the modern world is sleep deprived and heavily caffeinated, so no wonder you usually feel crappy, tired and unmotivated. A good sleep is extremely important for a healty life. Stick to drinking only one coffee in the morning and replace the rest of the day’s habitual coffee cups with matcha and turmeric latte drinks. They offer you a more subtle energy boost, and don’t impair your sleep routine.
Turn off the TV, laptop, phone and computer around 10.30 pm, dim the lights in the house and switch to reading or doing yoga for relaxation. Don’t binge on Netflix or social media, it’s a guaranteed way to add emotional pressure and stress in your life. Also, don’t stay in bed unless you feel sleepy, avoiding creating an association between bed and relaxed sleep. Following this pattern of evening relaxation should offer you a better sleep within 2-3 weeks or so.
Lots of it, since our body requires 44 ml of water per kilogram of body weight. It will help you feel energized, you will better control cravings and your digestion will improve. And your skin will glow, you will see that improvement first. No kidding!
Add 30 minutes of walking per day and work your way up to more effective workouts
You may find Instagram workouts really inspiring, but if you’ve spent your last 6 months seated on various chairs and couches you might want to start slow, with basic beginner workouts. Focus on form, not volume of exercise and build your endurance gradually. A 4–6-month plan is a reasonable timeline to improve resistance and stamina.
As you see, all the resolutions above refer to a timespan of 4-6 months, they don’t push you way outside your comfort zone and accommodate a significant degree of flexibility. They may not sound like the bombastic “get lean now” or “detox your holidays meals” you are bombarded with these days, but they are science-backed, long term behavior changes that are sustainable, realistic and maybe most important, attainable.
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