If you’re anything like me, when you’re on holidays calories don’t count. All my good intentions of “mindful eating” and “choosing the healthier option” often fly out the window as soon as I hit the surface of the place I’m visiting. If I had been honest with myself from the beginning, this was predictable behaviour for my holidays. After sticking to a reasonably decent diet and eating mainly home-cooked meals for months, who would want to spend their precious holiday time avoiding delicious food, and worrying about the calorie content of their daily meals? Not me, and upon returning home and assessing myself – it showed. The proof is in the pudding, which is an accurate metaphor to describe me as I stared at myself in the mirror shaking my undeniably wobblier tummy with my hands. If this has happened to you after a holiday, or indeed just a busy period of time at home – I am here to say that I can absolutely relate to that feeling of disappointment and slight shame bubbling beneath the surface. How could I have let this get so out of hand? How long will it take me to get back to the way I was? Is it even possible? These thoughts might be swimming around your brain in an unhelpful manner. Rather than continuing with these rambling perceptions, here’s a list of things you should do instead:
Focus on the positive aspects of your holiday
Think about all the cool things you were able to experience; the hilarious moments you shared with friends; and the different foods you indulged in. Rather than dwelling on the weight gain, be grateful for your holiday and the fact that you were able to go travelling. When I arrived home from my recent holiday to the USA and Mexico, I reflected on how amazing the experience was. I wrote a page recap of every day I was away, of all the things I did and funny/memorable anecdotes. It was a great way to remember the trip, and it shifted the focus from the slight weight gain I experienced, to appreciating the trip and all the things I did.
Appreciate the things your body allowed you to do
Dwelling on some weight gain and criticising yourself for it minimises the incredible things your body allows you to do. On my holiday, we walked along Venice Beach and played padel tennis in the glistening sun directly across from the ocean. I wandered through Yosemite National Park, trudging through snow that I haven’t seen since I was 11 years old, peering up at the massive mountains and awe-inspiring waterfalls. At Coachella music festival, my legs enabled me to walk 40,000 steps so I could experience as many stages and music as I possibly could. In San Francisco I was able to walk along the Golden-Gate Bridge, and then taste the most delicious prawn tacos I’ve ever had. In Mexico I managed to slip in a few gym sessions which made me feel rejuvenated and refreshed, and then dive into the most beautiful and refreshing cenote (natural sinkhole). Some people don’t have the capability to do these things. One day, I won’t have the capability to do these things. By having a sense of gratitude of your body instead of disdain, and reflecting on the amazing things your body can do, this reduces the significance of a few extra kilos on the scales.
Devise a plan of action
Whilst you can be appreciative of your body, you can also desire change and improvement. If you’ve accepted that you’d like to lose a couple of kilograms, then it’s necessary to come up with a plan on how you are going to achieve this. I would recommend setting a goal that is time-bound and realistic, because you want to ensure motivation is maintained and that there is an end in sight. For example, you could say to yourself “I want to lose 5 kilograms in 6 weeks”. This is a realistic goal for most people, and it does not require drastic calorie-cutting. The next step would be to figure out how you are going to achieve this goal. You might decide to utilise the services of an online coach, who can administer weekly gym programs and meal plan samples. Or, you might be comfortable enough to write out your own food and exercise plan, and there’s a plethora of free ones available on the internet. Having a plan is essential to change, as it provides a practical and productive solution to your problem of weight-gain.
Focus on health, and feeling better, as opposed to how much weight you want to lose
When implementing the above plan you or a trainer has devised, it’s important to have a helpful mind-set that will foster motivation and adherence to your desired behaviour. In other words, it will probably be more useful to focus on the positive benefits that your new plan will have on your health and overall – and then use these feelings of positivity to motivate you to revert back to your healthy routine. If you only focus on how much weight you want to lose, or dwell on the number on the scales, it’s likely you’ll become disheartened and view the whole experience as overwhelming. Use the scales as merely data which will help you track how your goals are faring – and nothing else. If you find you care too much about your weight and that the number can significantly impact your mood, it might be best to cease weighing yourself and measure your progress through other means. Alternative ways include progress photos and measurements, which you can take over selected intervals.
Whatever way that you are tracking your goals, ultimately your focus should be on how you are feeling as you implement your healthy routine. After a gym work-out, pull up your notes section in your phone and write down three words that describe your emotions. It’s like you’ll come up with words like “rejuvenated”, “energetic”, and “motivated”. At the end of a day of sticking to your goals, consider how accomplished you feel. Use these positive emotions as the driving force behind adhering to your plan on a daily basis, and you might find the process is actually more enjoyable than you initially anticipated. Whilst it certainly won’t be easy, and there will be days where you are ravenous or simply do not want to jump out of bed before the sunrise, if you implement these mindset tips then it’s more likely that you’ll achieve the goals you have set for yourself.