22 August 2017These four post-vacation tips will make you get back on track quickly for a healthier you

Have you ever waited a few days to step on the scale after returning from vacation? If so, you are not alone.

Even though we organized a very active summer holiday filled with hiking in the Dolomites in Italy and biking around Lake Constance in Germany, my pants and shorts feel snugger than before we left. My sentiment was echoed this morning when my tabata group exercise instructor, who was also fighting jet lag, said that she was not going to weigh herself for a week, especially after her husband told her that he had gained eight pounds.

Do you have post-vacation blues because of the additional weight you have gained during the summer? If so, follow these four tips to help you get back on track quickly.

Four Post-Vacation Remedies

1. Prioritize your exercise routine

Even though there are clothes to be washed, light bulbs to be replaced, school supplies to be bought, and friends to catch up with, intentionally make time each day to exercise. Whether it's a five-minute walk around the block or a 15-minute jog or an hour exercise class, plan an extra activity every day in which you increase your heart rate.

My job as a registered dietitian is to help people improve their eating habits. However, over the past 25 years of nutrition counseling, I have learned to FIRST assist my weight loss clients in calendaring a practical exercise schedule and to SECONDLY create a healthy eating plan. For many people, it's only after they experience the "happy hormones" or endorphins after exercising, feel the improved muscle strength in their core, and enjoy their increased energy levels due to regular exercise that they are ready and motivated to start changing their eating habits.

After vacation, make exercise a priority to get you back on track.

2. Increase fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which keep you fuller longer, and are low in calories. A perfect combination for weight loss!

If you have eaten out in restaurants a lot during your vacation, you probably noticed that fruits and vegetables are few and far between. Even though we generally ordered a large salad before our main meal, we often wondered whether the baby carrots floating in oil or the parsley decorating the schnitzel (pan fried pork) could be counted as one of our five fruits and vegetables for that day!

Now back home, I enjoy buying and eating more fruits and vegetables, especially the locally grown peaches in Colorado in August. I try to serve one hot vegetable (such as roasted broccoli) and one cold vegetable (such as a red beet salad) for each lunch and dinner meal. In addition, I snack on fruits between meals to make up for the fruit and vegetable desert of vacation.

Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables in order to consume the minimum recommendation of five servings each day.

3. Decrease your portion size

On vacation not only do I eat out more in restaurants where the portions are generally larger than what we eat at home, I also want to try all of the different cultural food offerings. Those two together make me eat more food than I am accustomed to at home.

This summer was no exception. From a tuna cream sauce served steaming hot on thin slices of veal (Vitello Tonnato) to trout eggs served on the side of a pasta dish, my taste buds were experiencing exotic new flavors. At one Italian restaurant in Genoa, we ate three different types of focaccia even before our pasta was served. Unfortunately, I wasn't biking the next day so I couldn't say I needed to carbohydrate load that evening!

Thus, upon return, I noticed that my stomach had stretched and that I can eat more food before feeling full. My body had become accustomed to overeating. Portion control is the key to retraining the body.

How to Decrease Portion Sizes

  • Serve meals on smaller plates. Choose salad plates rather than your dinner plates.
  • Use smaller spoons and forks to help slow down the eating process.
  • Sit down and always place food items on a plate before you eat it. This increases mindfulness.
  • Fill half of your plate FIRST with fruits and vegetable so you enjoy the low calorie items in largest quantity.
  • Use a measuring cup for dishing up foods to help you meet the MyPlate recommended servings sizes.

4. Limit your intake to just one small sweet treat a day

From gelato in Italy to coffee and cake at 4:00 in the afternoon in Germany to free sampling during our Cailler chocolate factory tour in Switzerland to layered Sacher torte cake in Austria, my dessert intake increased. Back home now, I find that I crave more sweets each day compared to before the trip.

Try a "sweet treat cleanse" and limit yourself to one small sweet treat a day, which is less than 100-150 calories. One way to overcome the initial intense sugar craving stage is to chew gum, make and drink a large pot of herbal tea and take a walk around the block so that you are not tempted in your kitchen.

In conclusion, If post vacation weight gain is bringing you down, don't forget about all of the wonderful memories you have created with friends and family. However, now is the time to get your body back on track for the fall. By prioritizing exercise, increasing your fruit and vegetables, decreasing your portion size and limiting your sweets, you will fit back into those pants and shorts in no time.

In good health,
Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

Tags:

Weight Loss/Behavior Weight Gain/Unwanted Weight Gain Weight Maintenance/Behavior

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