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?