With all the holiday festivities going on, do you feel like you’re overeating? Is the scale inching upward? Follow these tips if you want to reboot your body and get back on the fitness track:
Don’t panic. When you step on a scale, it measures seven distinct things: muscle, bone, organs, body fluids, body fat, the waste inside your digestive tract you haven’t yet eliminated and glycogen (the form of carbohydrate you sock away in your liver and muscles as a back-up fuel). Fat is responsible for a very small percentage of the change you see on the scale from day to day or within a single weekend. Most of that bump on the scale is probably from water retention (from excess sodium), a higher volume of glycogen (from a higher than usual carb intake) and waste that hasn’t worked its way through your system yet (which can take up to 3 days). Fortunately, you can bring your body back into balance with a few changes to your diet and activity.
Do drink more water. Water will help flush out any excess sodium you’re hanging on to and help your digestive system keep things moving to prevent constipation. Aim for 8-10 cups of water per day.
Don’t try to starve yourself. Not eating enough forces your body to switch into conservation mode and burn fewer calories, which means you’re more likely to hang onto any body fat you did gain.
Do restructure your meals. Don’t cut out carbs completely – that’ll force your body to burn protein for fuel instead of using it to support calorie-burning muscle. Emphasize veggies and lean protein at meals and include smaller amounts of healthy carbs and healthy fat. Aim for about 2 cups of raw, steamed, grilled or lightly sautéed low starch veggies (about 2 baseballs worth), 3 oz (deck of cards) or a half cup (half baseball) of a lean protein like tofu, fish or poultry, and a half cup of a good-quality carb. In-season complex carbs like yams, spaghetti squash, beets and butternut squash are high in fiber and packed with nutrients like beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant! Here’s a great example: sauté veggies like spinach, onions, peppers and mushrooms in a Tbsp of EVOO with garlic and herbs, toss with a half cup cooked spaghetti squash and top with 3 oz diced chicken breast or half cup diced or crumbled tofu. Drink a tall glass of ice water with it.
Do include more fiber. High fiber foods will help you feel full, reduce cholesterol and can increase your metabolism. Load up on high fiber foods with lower carbs such as GG crackers (crispbreads), avocado, artichokes, raspberries, and almonds.
Do get sleep. After partying the night away, do your best to get 7-8 hours of sound sleep. If you’re sleep deprived, you will likely feel compelled to find energy by eating more. A lack of sleep can suppress your leptin hormones, which help signal to the body that you are full. A good night’s sleep will help you stick to healthy eating habits and will keep you more in tune with your body’s hormone signals.
Do more physical activity. By sticking to a daily exercise routine, you will burn more calories, feel less stressed, and find greater motivation to eat smart. Find ways to fit in physical activity, no matter how busy you are! If you can’t make it to the gym or a group class, I suggest doing at-home exercises through YouTube or On Demand exercises from your cable TV. Consider buying resistance bands for a convenient way to get a workout at home or when traveling.
by Lexi Abi-Khattar, HealthEase Wellness Coach