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6 ways to hop back into shape after Easter

7 min read
24 Apr 2019

Has the Easter Bunny come and gone and left you with a little extra love on the handles?

Now that your long weekend of boozy gatherings, seafood feasts and over-indulging in chocolate eggs and hot cross buns is over, it’s time to hop back to your health and fitness goals.

We’ve asked some leading health and fitness experts for easy tips on how to beat those post-Easter blues so that you can get back to your best self in no time.

The Balanced Nutritionist Katie King said getting back into your healthy habits after a food blow-out means going back to basics.

‘Get back on the horse, quite simply,’ King said. ‘Easter is just a few days, it does not need to carry on for a week or a month or longer.

‘Set some of your own boundaries in the first place to avoid too deep a ‘food coma’, and once it’s all over, drink lots of pure water, get off the sugar and chocolate, get up and move and focus on three good meals each day with veggies and protein.

‘You’ll feel better again within a couple of days, and let this motivate you to remain with these habits most of the time.’

Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. A Stanford University study found that a good diet, together with regular physical activity, can yield better results over time than focusing on one area over the other.[1]

However, this doesn’t mean you have to go hard or go home by quitting sugar cold turkey or logging five to six workouts a week after Easter Monday.

‘Don’t smash yourself on the first day back; take a long-term approach,’ said health and fitness coach Luke Gamble.

‘Often, people will go from one extreme to other. They binge eat and drink with no exercise, then do a full 180 degrees and try to dramatically reduce their calorie intake and over exercise, when a balanced, sustainable approach is what is needed.’

To help you back on your way after the Easter feasts, we’ve compiled our top six tips for beating the post-Easter bulge.

1.      Don’t weigh yourself

You knew scoffing down an entire basket of chocolate eggs wasn’t going help your waistline, but you don’t need a scale to tell you that. If you’ve binged on carbs and sugary treats all weekend, chances are you’re retaining extra water weight, which will naturally skew the numbers on the scale.[2]

What’s more, studies have also shown that self-weighing can negatively impact self-esteem, body image and eating behaviours.[3] Remember, numbers on a scale don’t define you.

Don’t beat yourself up for going a little off-track and indulging over the long weekend. Just get back to eating clean and exercising daily for at least one week before you weigh yourself. You should be back to your normal weight by then and your Easter blow-out will be nothing but a distant memory!

2.      Start a food diary

Studies have shown that keeping a food diary makes you more conscious of what, how much and how often you eat.[4]

Bek Strachan, founder of Raw by Bek fitness studio, said food diaries paint a clear picture of what’s really going on.

‘I’d also recommend using an app like My Fitness Pal to track your macros (carbs, protein, and fats) and calories,’ said Strachan.

‘It is eye-opening! You could be coming under in your calories, but not getting enough protein, which will hinder your results.’

For the next two to four weeks, record everything you eat and drink from breakfast to dinner. This will not only make you more mindful of what you put in your mouth; it will also help you resist having that extra slice of cake.

Taking note of your meals may also help you identify unhealthy eating behaviours or patterns. For example, you might realise that you mindlessly munch on sugary treats every time you’re stressed or tired.

3.      Don’t redeem yourself by skipping meals

The worst thing you can do after falling off the wagon is to make up for it by forgoing food or fasting. This will not only zap your energy as your blood sugar levels nosedive but also downshift your metabolism, which will make your body go into survival mode and store everything as fat.[5]

‘Don’t skip meals, because if you are hungry, you’ll binge on sugar. Enjoy good meals with protein and loads of veggies and salads,’ said King.

If you’re looking to ease yourself back into your healthy habits, you should eat smaller, nutritious meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism ticking and stave off hunger. King says you can also enjoy the sweet stuff occasionally.

‘Once the Easter weekend is over, pop the chocolate eggs away and enjoy leftovers once or twice a week, only in small quantities either after dinner at night or on weekends only.’

4.      Find your groove and get back into exercise

Ok, we know that the Easter egg hunt didn’t quite qualify as cardio. So, if you’ve fallen off the fitness train for a few days, simply hop back on it when you can.

‘I’d recommend easing into it but focus on consistency. Do something every day for the next five days, rather than smashing yourself once and then being out of action for a week,’ said Strachan.

Set yourself clear and realistic post-Easter fitness goals, then make it your mission to smash everything you set out to do, plus more. You could start slow by running or going for a brisk walk in the mornings and then pick up the pace with strength training at least two days a week. According to Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, adults need about 20 minutes of exercise a day.[6]

Don’t forget to switch up your workout routine every few weeks because your body adapts to change quickly, which means your muscles get less responsive to certain workouts over time. The solution to this is to ‘surprise’ your body with new ways of exercising.

5.      Say ‘bye’ to booze

Director and head coach at Ritual HQ Chantal Coleman recommends going at least six weeks without alcohol to fire up your metabolism and give your body a chance to kick out toxins.

‘We have clients still struggling to get back after Christmas, and now it’s Easter! Once you start that cycle of pouring an addictive substance into your body (sugar/alcohol), it’s a cycle that can be extremely hard to break,’ she said.

Think of booze as empty calories that have no nutritional value. A standard glass of wine contains up to 150 calories,[7] which is the equivalent of half a cup of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream![8] Alcohol also adversely affects your metabolism, because your body will always burn alcohol before burning fat.[9]

6.      Hydrate

Keeping hydrated is crucial for our health and wellbeing; it can ward off hunger pains, flush toxins from your system, reduce fluid retention and boost your metabolism. Research shows that drinking more water can help you eat less because it keeps you fuller between meals.[10]

The average adult needs at least 2.5 litres or eight glasses of H20 daily,[11] but King says nine out of every 10 people don’t drink enough water.

‘Hydration can solve some serious issues easily. Headaches, exhaustion, high blood pressure, poor concentration can all be improved with proper hydration,’ she said. ‘It’s one of those basic health habits we forget. Instead, people complicate things with crazy diets.’

Sources
[1] Harvard Medical School- Benefit to improving diet and exercise at the same time (2013).
[2] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health- Relationship between muscle water and glycogen recovery after prolonged exercise in the heat in humans (2015).
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health- Self-Weighing: Helpful or Harmful for Psychological Well-Being? A Review of the Literature (2015).
[4] Science Daily-Keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss, study suggests (2008).
[5] Piedmont Healthcare- What happens to the body when you skip meals? (2019).
[6] Australian Government Department of Health- Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines and the Australian 24-hour movement guidelines (2019).
[7] WebMD- How Many Calories Are in Your Wine? (2017).
[8] Business Insider- Here’s what 150 calories of your favourite snack foods looks like (2017).
[9] Bodybuilding.com- 5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss! (2019).
[10] Science Daily- Drinking more water associated with numerous dietary benefits, study finds (2016).
[11] Victoria State Government Better Health Channel- Water – a vital nutrient (2019).

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Written by Megan Birot

Megan considers herself a savvy saver. She aims to make finance fun and inspire people to make decisions best suited to their budget and lifestyle. Her number one tip is: “saving doesn’t have to be boring, get creative and reap the rewards.” Megan has a background in journalism and particularly loves to write about health and money. She hopes to one day pen a best-selling book but the topic is a well-guarded secret.

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