Much like the 1890s in Paris and London, holidays are a time of total decadence.
We sleep late, we eat late - and too often. Ice creams and salty snacks are available at every turn and even the biggest fitness fanatics among us shun a jog on the beach for a glass of wine. Then, the misery we experience upon returning home is compounded by a few extra pounds we've picked up, and Gatwick is suddenly the most depressing place on the planet.
We've spoken to Weight Watchers about how you can keep your figure in check while not missing out on any fun - and it's not as hard as you'd think.
Lots of people complain that they gain weight on holiday; why is this?
It’s usually because they relax their weight loss efforts as soon as they set off! While it’s understandable to let your hair down a little while you’re away, if you don’t want to come home with ‘excess baggage’ it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what you’re eating and drinking, and try and factor some activity into your day too. You could always try a few lengths of the pool or a morning walk.
Do you think people should attempt to get fitter and lose a bit of weight before their holiday, so they can regulate their weight?
This is personal choice; for some, the pre-holiday regime to tone up and slim down is all part of the excitement of going away.
What can people do to curb weight gain on holiday?
Tracking your food and drink intake will only take a couple of minutes - especially if you use our mobile app - and even if you only monitor for a couple of days on holiday it will give you a clear idea of a what ‘a typical day’s eating’ could look and feel like, and that will help you stay in control.
Your choices can and will make a difference, so try to think ahead and stand by your decision. For example, before dinner out, think about how many courses you want to eat, such as a starter and a main or a main and dessert. Vary these choices every day so that you don’t miss out.
This isn’t to say you can’t choose to splurge – one blow-out meal is not going to ruin your summer holiday. Deprivation leads to cravings and then it is only a matter of time until you snap and end up overindulging in the very thing you said no to. If you really want that full English breakfast or that chocolate cake, have it, and just make allowances for it when choosing your next meal.
How can people fit some exercise into their day?
The main point of a holiday is to unwind but that doesn’t mean you have to spend it sitting down. Moving more can be fun and doing even small amounts of exercise every day can protect you against heart disease, help you relax and sleep more soundly.
Sightseeing is good for you! When it comes to holiday exercise, nothing is simpler than walking - it tones legs, ankles and calves and strengthens the 50 odd muscles in your feet.
There’s no better way to beat the heat than taking dip in the pool, and even swimming at a slow pace will give you a great aerobic workout and help tone your body.
Walking barefoot on the sand is a great workout; it's tougher than walking on a regular surface, and the grains of sand massage your feet as a bonus.
Booze must be one of the main reasons people gain weight – are there any drinks that they can substitute?
No holiday would be complete without an evening by the pool watching the sun set with a colourful cocktail in your hand, but before you place your order remember that some drinks will have less fewer calories and less sugars than others.
For example, a Sex on the Beach has fewer calories and less sugar than a Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri. Many bars offer non-alcoholic mocktails, so it’s worth checking what’s on offer. And as a general rule of thumb, a single shot of spirits with a slimline mixer will be less calorific than beer or wine.
All-inclusive resorts can be an issue. How can people eat sensibly?
It can be very easy to overeat when at an all-inclusive resort but here are some tips to help you stay on track:
Try and stick to the same number of meals you’d normally eat, and try to eat at approximately the same sort of time – if you wouldn’t normally eat a plate of chips at 11am, then don’t have them.
Go up once to the buffet table and fill your plate with a normal serving size and resist the temptation to go back. Another trick you can try is using a smaller plate, which will reduce your portion size.
Decide in advance what sort of eating day it’s going to be, e.g. if you are going to have a long leisurely lunch or lots of food at an evening bbq, so you can make smaller choices at other times of the day.
Remember the basics. Try to avoid too much fried food, go easy on rich creamy sauces, fill up on fruit and veg and stop eating when you feel satisfied.
If people do gain weight, how can they get back on track once they get home?
There is nothing wrong with taking a long break so don’t worry too much about every morsel that goes into your mouth. Give yourself permission to eat the summer treats that you really want - just not all of them all the time!
And also beware the 'I've blown it' effect - this might happen if you have gained some weight or an unplanned dessert or burger makes you feel like you might as well give up. This does not mean you have failed – draw a line under it and start afresh.
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