How to Lose the Holiday Weight
It's not exactly rare for us humans to put on weight while we're on holiday. So the first thing to say is don't panic!
However, I was a at national obesity forum conference a couple of years ago, and one speaker (a doctor who specialised in weight issues) put forward this theory:
Many people get heavier over the years due to repeated seperate instances of holiday weight gain that they never lose.
We just add a little bit more as each holiday, or Christmas, passes.
If there is any truth to his theory, and he did put forward good evidence at the time, then the answer is simple.
If we just make sure to eat a few less calories when we get home until we've got rid of the excess holiday baggage, we won't get stuck with the slow creep of weight gain over the years.
Losing holiday weight may be easier than you think.
The best thing you can do is make some educated guesses about the specifics of where and why your excess baggage was picked up - and deal with the issue accordingly.
This will hopefully stop you being panicked into thinking that a drastic diet is the only answer.
There are actually very good reasons why people put on weight while they are on holiday. Have a look at our top 5 to help you identify yours.
The top 5 reasons for holiday weight gain
1. Big buffet breakfasts
Breakfast buffets at resort hotels can be very sumptuous affairs.
You walk into a world of temptation that looks and smells delicious.
And you should feel good about eating breakfast - shouldn't you? You even have fruit every day!
Yes, of course, but ...
There's so much choice - and it all looks so good. Bread, eggs, pancakes, waffles, fruit, yoghurt, cold meats, fish, cheeses - not to mention the more mundane cereals, bacon and sausages.
It's really easy to down 1000 calories of these goodies in one sitting.
Compared to your normal breakfast say, 200-300 cals, this feast is giving you a substantial 700 extra. Repeat for 7 days and you have enough to gain 1.6lbs. It gets pretty scary when you do the maths for a fortnight.
Have a look at the popular bb items in our list below. It won't take you long to see how average servings add up.
Luckily, you're unlikely to repeat this blowout breakfast at home because you simply don't have the time for all that baking.
But see the calorie calculation table at the end of this article to work out what you need to do to lose those breakfast bulges.
2. A Few Too Many
Alcohol is often the main culprit when it comes to holiday weight gain. And you don't have to go mad to start pushing up the needle on the scales.
A UK pub single measure of spirits like vodka or gin, with a low cal mixer will usually cost you just under 100 cals.
The problem in many holiday destinations of course is that your friendly waiter often sloshes rather a large amount and you could easily be getting 200 cals a glass.
If you start on the cocktails you could be even more trouble, with many exotic and sweet mixes coming in at 300 cals or more. Easy to see that you don't need many of them consume a serious number of calories.
To put this into context, let's say you have a glass of wine with lunch, a couple of drinks in the afternoon by the pool, a cocktail before dinner, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, and a cocktail after.
You could easily rack up 1500-2000 calories in those 7 drinks through the day - which, when spaced out don't really seem that much. You are on holiday, after all.
The problem is, that even at that reasonable level, it's enough to put on a whopping 3-4lbs in a week.
Fortunately, this unwanted excess is a fairly easy one to deal with, as we tend to drink a lot less when we're not on holiday.
Even so, if you're going to drop those extra alcohol pounds you're going to need to create a deficit of around 500 calories a day for the next 3-4 weeks to shift it.
3. Not Having to Cook Increased Your Appetite
This one's quite anecdotal, but you often hear people say that cooking a meal takes the edge off their appetite.
Compare that to the sights sounds and smells of people enjoying food around you, sitting there in anticipation rather than slaving over a hot stove.
It's hard to put an actual calorie count on this but if you ate just 10% more because your appetite is sharper - you could be looking at around 200 calories a day of increased appetite.
That’s nearly enough for half a pound over the course of a week.
Every little hurts, as they say.
4. Picking in the sun
So you've got your comfy lounger, a pretty drink and a good book.
What's missing from this picture?
The nibbles of course. Crisps, nuts, tortilla chips. (In some Mexican resorts they make a big thing of bringing fresh tortilla chips to pass around the pool area mid-afternoon.)
If you've been somewhere a bit posh, anywhere in the world, they'll often bring a little dish of nuts with your drink order.
Nuts are great, really nutritious, likely much better for you than the tortilla chips.
But when you consider there's anything from 100 - 200 cals in a small handful it's not hard to see the damage they could do.
Except maybe walnuts - they seem to have special properties that have an appetite supressing effect.
But then it's not often you'll be presented with a plate of walnuts with your woowoo.
5. Long lazy lunches (or dinners)
Do you find that you’re hungrier for dinner, or lunch, when you're sitting at a table waiting for the waiter to bring it? I'm sure anticipation builds appetite.
How many times do you think: 'I'm getting quite peckish’ in the space between giving your order and food arriving.
But don't worry - there's always a bit of beautiful fresh bread, maybe with some nice extra virgin olive oil, perhaps even a few olives, to stop you getting hangry while you're waiting for your starter.
Starter of course because that's what you do when you're eating in a restaurant. And they look so delicious on the menu.
So after you eat your bread, and your starter - along comes the main course.
You're probably going to be quite full up by the time you finish that. You might not even be able to manage it all. (You can then proceed to pudding feeling rightfully virtuous because you didn't eat all your dinner.)
Even if you're 'totally stuffed' after dinner, you'll just have a quick look at the pudding menu - mostly because you don't want to upset the waiter.
When you get it, you find you actually quite fancy something sweet to finish it all off.
As if that’s not enough, if you're really (un)lucky, your waiter will have enjoyed your company so much that he brings you a shot of some local liqueur that's so awful you have to down it one and can’t help pulling a face.
The potential for eating more than your whole day's calorie needs in one meal is huge. Yikes!
Lose it by Stealth
You'll be the best judge of your average holiday consumption.
But now you can see how it all adds up, at least you can see the logical reason for it and take a rational approach to remedying the situation.
You just need to undo the damage in a calm way - before it takes up permanent residence around your waist. Hop on to wlr and set yourself to lose half a pound a week.
This'll stop you going into ‘on a diet’ mode, and should be quite easy for you to do without really noticing that you’re eating fewer calories.
At this easy pace you'll drop about 3 lbs within six weeks - which seems reasonable.
The ‘good’ thing about holiday weight gain is that it's fairly easy to diagnose and therefore sort out. As long as you don't let your holiday indulgences become habits - though some would be difficult to replicate in a home environment anyway.
Perhaps the the biggest thing that you have to watch for is a creep upwards in your portion sizes.
If you've been pretty indulgent for two weeks, you may feel the lack of that food and drink in your life.
So keep an eye on your portion sizes and snacking habits, and make an effort to get back to normal.
WLR gives you the tools to help you to learn what calories your food contains and how to lose weight WITHOUT going on a diet - all in the comfort of your own home. Try it all free for 24 hours.