If I had a dollar for every email I received from a client in January panicking about the 3-4 pounds they gained over the Christmas period, I would be a rich woman. It is completely normal to gain a few pounds over the holidays, as food consumption tends to go through the roof while exercise levels generally decrease.
It can be very tempting to go on a crash diet or juice cleanse to reverse this weight gain, but you must resist the temptation! Doing so will only negatively shock your body and damage your metabolism, which will make it harder to keep the weight off permanently and lose weight in future.
There is no need to write out a restrictive list of foods to stick to, accompanied by a strict exercise regime, as part of a masochistic New Year’s resolution. Instead, apply the basic principles of exercise and healthy eating while avoiding any extreme behaviour.
To use myself as an example, my lead-up to Christmas was actually pretty healthy. I was one of few people that actually lost weight in December due to all the extra exercise I was fitting in. Christmas Day itself was surprisingly healthy and I actually felt leaner than I had in months when I woke up on Boxing Day.
Then my friend from Australia arrived on the 27th and all hell broke loose. I have eaten everything under the sun in the past 10 days, and we’re only halfway through her trip! I am enjoying my time with her, acting as a tourist in London and eating all the food. Our dessert consumption is so out of control I have actually developed a rash from the sugar!
I feel pretty bloated and sluggish, so even I feel tempted to do some kind of cleanse. After all, why wouldn’t I prefer the weight to come off within a matter of days instead of weeks or even months? Because it’s not sustainable. If a diet seems too good to be true, it probably is – and you will likely gain all that weight back the second you finish it. This means that suffering through the misery of drinking nothing but green juice for three to five days will have been a complete waste of time.
Crash diets set you up for failure. They create unhealthy relationships with food, fuel food obsession and often lead to binges.
When my friend leaves I’m not going to start some crazy diet. I will just go back to eating “normally”, which for me means lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats 80 per cent of the time, with my usual burgers and chocolate sprinkled throughout the week.
Your body is smart. Despite what the fitness industry tells you, you don’t need any special detox products to do what your organs will do naturally. What most people forget is that the only reason they gained weight over the holidays is because they were eating foods not usually featured in their diet – which causes weight gain because of excess calories as well as simple water retention. It makes sense that, in order to lose that weight, one must simply remove those foods from their diet.
If you are feeling the post-Christmas chub, load up on lean proteins and vegetables – the latter of which tend to be neglected during the festive season. You would be amazed at how good you will feel just from stocking up on more greens as they are full of healthy nutrients and fibre, which will keep you fuller for longer and away from the sweet jar. Flush out your system in the easiest way possible, by drinking plenty of water and limiting other types of beverages.
Avoid inflammatory foods such as dairy and grains for a week or two. Throw away any leftover Christmas treats and don’t buy any more, no matter how good the discount on Lindt reindeers is. You will be back to feeling normal before you know it, and you will likely lose any temporary pounds without having to make much of an effort. If you’re feeling particularly desperate, cut out carbs for a few days and you will naturally de-bloat. Resume a regular workout schedule, as having a nice sweat most days of the week will make you feel significantly better.
If you genuinely cannot lose the weight gained over Christmas, there may be something wrong with your body hormonally so I would suggest seeking professional help.
Did you gain weight over the holiday season? What are your tips for losing it?