The timing on this legit reader-request #AskAmanda could not be more perfect as I’ve just returned from a wonderfully indulgent vacation in Japan. She asked me how I get myself back on track after a weekend (week…month…year…life….) of too much food, too little exercise, and a general lack of health and fitness habits.
To give you an idea of what I mean when I’m talking about overdoing it, take a peek below. Over the five glorious days I spent in northern Japan, a typical day of eating looked a lot like this:
- breakfast: massive hotel buffet at which even my travel companion commented, “wow, all carbs, huh?”
- midmorning snack: amazing Japanese pastry (like a ham n’ cheese bun…or two) and amazingly foreign Japanese Starbucks (I’m now obsessed with Sakura Blossom Cream Lattes)
- lunch: some massive bowl of noodles or rice, like this amazing Sapporo-style miso ramen
- afternoon snack: some crazy-flavored KitKat and perhaps another strong coffee
- dinner: so much delicious grilled meat there’s probably a law against it in Singapore
- after dinner: every single beer the Hokkaido region could offer me, drunk to excess
As you can imagine, upon my arrival back to Singapore, I solemnly and quietly slid my bathroom scale away under the sink, vowing to give myself a week to “recover,” and devised a plan on how to get back to my fit, firm self after a weekend of overindulgence.
Step one: food. Whenever I need to clean myself out, I don’t go for the typical quick fixes (think juice cleanses, starvation diets, or some protein-shake regimen). I simply buy the clean, healthy foods I enjoy and commit to eating them – and only them – for about a week. For me that looks like:
- breakfast: none; I return to my intermittent fasting program
- fast breaker meal: banana or apple with natural chunky peanut butter
- lunch: can of water-packed tuna mixed with plain hummus and 1/2 avocado
- snack: a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries and nuts
- dinner: 1/2 avocado and 3 eggs over German bread with a side spinach salad
Sure, it’s not super exciting, but it definitely works – and that’s what matters to me. The ingredients are cheap and simple, there’s barely any cooking involved, and I like all the food listed here. I pair every meal/snack with 1/2 liter (16 ounces) of water and make sure I drink at least one container of coconut water (especially important in the Singapore climate) per day to offset all the dehydration of the (black) coffee I tend to gulp by the gallon.
Step two: workouts. When I’m coming back from an inconsistent or nonexistent workout schedule, I like to come back with a week of two-a-days – either an endurance cardio workout in the morning and superset weights in the afternoon, or a HIIT workout early and a slower weights program later. I don’t overdo it in either workout session, but I do like to make up for lost time a bit and recommit my body and mind fully to exercise.
Step three: sleep and skin. After even one weekend of indulging, especially at age 33, I can see the effects of too much alcohol and sleep deprivation all over my (bloated, dull, patchy) face. I like to use the first week back to do some serious rehab on my skin (think exfoliating scrubs, hydration mask, and heavy-duty eye cream every night, plus a scheduled facial as soon as I can make time for one), and get tons of sleep (for me “tons” is anything above 7 hours, and I cherish every second of it) until I no longer resemble the walking dead.
Finally, a wonderful step four: massage. Sure, I was just on vacation, surrounded by leisure time and onsens aplenty, but I was also crammed into an economy-size airplane seat for about 10 hours each way and traveled two red-eye flights to make the trip happen. When I got back, my neck felt like it had been strangled and my sore legs (from two days of snowboarding after an 18-year hiatus from the sport, sigh) felt like they were radiating pain. I like to get a nice, deep, almost-painful massage to work out the travel tension and body aches from a whirlwind trip and help me get back in the mindset of work, business, and responsibilities again.
What are your best post-vacay rituals? How do you get back to your healthy routine?
No sweets for awhile. If my vacay has been a week or less, back on schedule with regular weight training. If longer, then a session with lighter weights so I don’t injure myself. Especially important for older folks.
One of my tricks if I really want to drop some weight fast is to eat breakfast mid morning instead of at 6:30, then my snack (usually a banana) at a later lunch time (two-ish), and dinner as usual. Cutting out lunch saves about 500 calories if it’s my usual peanut butter sandwich (heavy on the PB).
Pretty much the intermittent fasting thing – delay the breakfast, decent lunch, dinner and done. 🙂
oh, man- post travel massage is a MUST HAPPEN. My number one thing, though, is to unpack as soon as possible. Doing this puts me back in “real life” mode and reinforces that its time to get back to the regular (which for me is healthy) daily routine.
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OMG that is SUCH an amazing tip – I used to be the WORST at that, but my husband showed me the light of why that is such an awesome relief and now I am committed to it as well. 😉