Vacations, especially long ones, usually tend to lean towards indulgent food habits. Too much alcohol, wine, pina coladas or draught beer by the beach, and hot-off-the-oven pizzas and pastas, sugary doughnuts and gooey chocolatey deserts can upset the best thought out I-will-keep-fit plans. What is disturbing about such indulgences is that more than 4kg can sometimes be gained in a short span of two-three weeks.
Such “yo-yo” weight gain must be avoided as it can affect your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and make it very sluggish over time. A sluggish BMR affects your health in many ways—your weight can plateau, you can suffer from elevated cholesterol levels and can also become prone to gaining fat easily and resisting weight loss.
Improving your BMR requires a concerted and focused effort, especially after weeks of indulgence. Crash dieting to reduce the effects of overeating while on vacation is unhealthy because it is likely to enhance the tendency for yo-yo weight gain as crash dieting lowers your BMR. That’s why you need to think of regrouping after a vacation, focusing on health and the business of healthy living. Here are a few ways to get back on track.
Resolutions: After a vacation, focus on health and healthy living.
Assess your health status
• Check your weight. Your ideal body weight (IBW) if you are a man is your height in centimetres less 100. So if you
are a 170cm-tall male, your IBW is 70kg. If you are a woman, your ideal body weight is your height in centimetres less 105. So if you are 155cm tall, your IBW is 50kg.
• Check your BMI by dividing your weight (in kg) by height (in m sq.).
• Check your body-fat percentage. For males, it should be less than 15% of total body weight; for females, it should be less than 20% of total body weight.
• Next, set a short-term target. If you are overweight, set a weight loss target of 1% of body weight a week for a three-month period. If your cholesterol levels are borderline high, then you can use a combination of diet and exercise to lower them before opting for medication.
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• During this period, make a resolve to give up biscuits, pizza, pastas, pastries, junk food and alcohol. This will also help you lose weight and lower triglyceride levels considerably.
• Next, eat healthy meals at three-and-a-half- to 4-hour intervals. Focus on wholegrains such as oat, wholewheat, brown rice, and around 600g a day of green and cruciferous vegetables such as spinach, ladyfinger, French beans, capsicum, cauliflower, cabbage and bottle gourd. Include a fist-sized serving of protein foods in every meal, three-four times a day. Lower the intake of starchy foods such as potato, peas and corn and very sweet fruits such as chikoo (sapodilla), pineapple, raisins and dates. If you need to lose weight, limit your fruit intake to just the first half of the day.
• Join a gym to ensure that you get your workout, especially now that the monsoon will likely make you miss the outdoors. Three days a week of strength training, three days of cardiovascular training, especially if you have high cholesterol levels, 20 minutes of relaxation and deep breathing three times a week and stretching about 10 minutes every day and, perhaps, a game of tennis or badminton on the weekend is good for health.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at email@example.com