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Shedding the holiday flab – a step-by-step plan

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Back from holiday? You probably brought back plenty of souvenirs, but there could be one you’re not so pleased about: that annoying spare tyre around your waist. You’d rather have left that back at the hotel or on the campsite. But it’s hard to avoid picking up some extra weight while you’re away. Wine on the terrace, another ice cream to cool off and fries with dinner every night After a relaxing break, most of us are a pound or two heavier. Or three. Or four.

Nobody likes holiday flab. And you know very well that it’s not good for you, either. So now is the time to lose those extra pounds again. With this step-by-step plan, you can do that in a healthy and responsible way.

Step 1. Take it easy

Planning a crash diet as soon as you’ve unpacked your suitcase? Don’t do it! Your body has just become accustomed to all the extra calories you’ve been feeding it over the summer. Completely cutting off that supply will literally come as a shock to your system, likely to trigger some unpleasant “withdrawal symptoms”. For example…

  • Constant hunger. Your stomach has adjusted to the larger portions you’ve been eating on holiday. Switch suddenly to just a kiwi fruit for breakfast, instead of a full English, and you’ll feel hungry again within minutes.
  • Low blood sugar, which can result in tremors, headaches, dizziness, nausea and blurred vision.

All in all, not a nice way to return home. And with a good chance that you ditch all your good intentions within a couple of days and start tucking into pies and pasties again.

Return to normal

So how do you lose the flab for good? Simply by taking your time. First give your body the chance to get used to “normal food again. And only then switch to a diet to help you lose weight. In this way you reduce the chance of suffering physical symptoms and so are more likely to stick to your new regime. What does that mean in practice? Here are a few tips.

  • First, cut out the extra snacks. No more summer treats and no more ice cream between meals.
  • Replace alcohol with water or (light) soft drinks. A pint of lager can contain 180 calories and a medium glass of rosé around 130. That all adds up. If you were drinking two glasses of alcohol with your meals on holiday, cut that down to one now. And after a few days move to just water or low-calorie soft drinks.
  • Second helpings are great at the hotel buffet, but at home they just pile on the pounds. Stick to a single serving, and try to dish up smaller portions. You will soon notice your stomach readjusting to your more modest appetite.

With small adjustments like these, you’ll barely notice that you’re cutting down your calorie intake. At any rate, they should stop you putting on any more weight. Thanks to this gradual approach, you’re also less likely to suffer from complaints like headaches and hunger.

Step 2. Adjust your eating pattern

Once you’re used to a “normal” eating pattern after a few days, you can start taking measures to actually lose weight. Here again, the watchword is: take it slow. Crash diets are always counterproductive. You lose a lot of fluid and muscle tissue, but very little fat. And you run the risk of suffering deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals.

How to start losing weight

You lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn. To do this in a healthy way, without having to starve yourself, it is smart to opt for “lean” foods. A few examples…

  • Fruit and vegetables contain hardly any calories and are also super healthy. So start aiming for your five a day again. Yoghurt with fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch… Fruit and veg are not as boring as you think!
  • Replace fatty dairy and meats with leaner versions. Chicken fillet instead of mince. Lean ham rather than liver sausage. Processed and low-fat cheeses, not high-fat ones like cheddar, stilton or camembert. And if you swap whole milk for skimmed milk, that saves about 60 calories a glass.
  • Avoid ready meals. They usually contain much more fat, sugar and salt than dishes you prepare with fresh ingredients.

To find out more about adjusting your eating pattern to lose weight, see our article Slimming with the right food.

Step 3. Take more exercise

The more exercise you take, the more calories you burn. And so the faster you lose weight. But a lot of people with a weight problem hate sports. That makes sense, because the heavier you are, the harder it is to move. The good news: you don’t necessarily have to go to the gym to burn off excess pounds! Just take a walk more often. Cycle to the shops instead of driving. If you take the bus, get off two stops before your destination. All that extra movement counts. Once you notice your stamina improving, you can challenge yourself a bit more. By walking a little faster, for example, or cycling a bit further.

Step 4. Keep it up!

If you’ve dieted before, you know the form. The first week is fine. You manage the second, too. But then you start to weaken. The excuses kick in (“It is a birthday party, so one little piece of cake won’t hurt…”). Or you skip a few exercise sessions (“I won’t bother today, it’s raining.”) And before you know it, you’re putting on weight again. Such a shame! With these tips, you can stick to your new eating pattern.

  • Reward yourself. Love crisps? As you eat wisely all day long, there’s no harm in treating yourself to take a small bowl in the evening. But opt for a low-fat variety, or one of the healthier alternatives now available (vegetable crisps, rice sticks, etc.).
  • Banish chocolate, biscuits, crisps and other seductively fattening snacks from your home. If you don’t have them, you can’t succumb to their temptation! You also save yourself the stress of always having to choose a healthy option over an unhealthy one.
  • Set yourself a realistic goal. Losing three stone in two months is just not feasible. In fact, it’s not even healthy. If you manage to shed between one and two pounds a week, you’re doing very nicely!


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