Overindulgence. This is a word that you’re probably familiar with. Whether it’s the holiday season, you’re on vacation, or you’re celebrating an event, there are times when you’re more likely to eat more food and drink more alcohol than you normally do.
That means more calories. And consuming more calories than you burn can lead to weight gain and increased body fat.
You might be wondering – how do you get back on track after overeating and overdrinking?
Before we dive into the most effective strategies to mitigate your holiday weight gain, let’s do some myth-busting.
You might have heard that the average American gains 5 lbs or more during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. You’ll be relieved to know that this statement is a bit of an exaggeration.
A study of 195 adults found that the average holiday weight gain is closer to 0.8 – 1 lb during this 3 month period of celebration. Even though the majority of the participants put no effort into controlling their weight, large weight gains were not the norm.1
While that doesn’t seem like a lot of weight, the problem is that most people don’t lose the holiday pounds, and this holiday weight increase tends to contribute to an average annual weight gain of at least 1 lb.
Gaining one pound per year can add up, and could explain the increased prevalence of obesity.2
First, let’s get something straight – feeling guilty or punishing yourself for enjoying food and having drinks that aren’t a normal part of your diet is not productive. This negative self-talk does more harm than good, and is often associated with yo-yo exercising and dieting, poor self-image, and disordered eating.
Enjoying the holidays (or your vacation) isn’t going to derail your health and fitness goals, but talking negatively to and punishing yourself could.
At BuiltLean, we advocate making health and fitness a lifestyle. If you establish a solid foundation of balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, you have the right habits in place to mitigate your weight gain year-round.3
It’s what you do most of the time, not some of the time, that has the biggest effect on your weight, health, and fitness level.
With that said, here’s how you can stay on track after overindulging:
Eating and drinking too much, going overboard with the sweets, and having a lot of salt usually leaves you feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and dehydrated the next day. Let’s solve these problems.
Drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning when you wake up. Drinking water in the morning can help get things moving (you know what I mean), which will help you feel better pretty immediately.
Continue to drink water throughout the day. Men should aim to get about 3-4 liters every day, and women should aim for 2-3 liters.
Stay hydrated all week long. Drinking enough water all the time can help with appetite regulation, fat loss, improved performance, and increased energy.
You might be tempted to skip breakfast or begin a super restrictive diet to “detox” from a few days of overeating. Skip the detox, and get into a healthy eating routine instead.
If you don’t currently have a healthy eating routine, here’s a simple breakdown.
Follow a regular eating schedule. There isn’t a perfect number of meals to eat every day for fat loss, so uyou’ll need to do some self-experimentation to find out how many meals (and snacks) works best for you.
That might be 3 square meals, 5 meals, or 2 meals and 2 snacks. We generally recommend having 3 meals and 1 snack. Whatever you prefer, get into a schedule with your eating.
For the first few days after overindulging, consider paying attention to your portions (or even keeping a food log). This might happen naturally, since you’ll probably be less hungry after a stint of overeating. But just in case, keeping a food log can help you see how much you’re really eating, and inform how you should adjust your food to meet your calorie goals.
Consider increasing your vegetable intake, and decreasing your fat and carb intake for 1-3 days.
Pay attention to your hunger and satiety cues. Your body is smart and, if you’re primarily eating a whole foods diet, will let you know when you need food and when you’re full.
Staying active is one of the best things you can do for long-term weight maintenance. During the holidays (or your vacation), maintain a regular workout routine where you exercise at least 3x per week.
We recommend doing strength circuits, which give you the benefit of both strength and cardiovascular training in one highly effective and efficient workout. Strength circuits are a form of high intensity interval training, which induces the afterburn effect, helps with fat loss, and improves performance.5
We also recommend being active in some way on your non-workout days. Walking, jogging, swimming, hiking, and yoga are all great ideas.
What are your health and fitness goals right now? Do you want to lose body fat, or get stronger? Overeating (and overdrinking) is not a reason to give up on those goals. Instead, move forward with restored commitment to actualizing your vision.
Do you have any strategies to deal with overindulgence? Or have any questions? Feel free to reach out in the comments below.