Bounce back from a binge

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If you're bingeing your way through the festive season, here's how to make a plan to cut down on the calories and stay on track with your weight-loss and fitness goals!

Bounce back from a binge
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without mince pies, the occasional (hic!) glass of wine and all the chocolate you can eat, but all that over-indulging might well take its toll. You could be feeling sluggish and lethargic, and curling up on the sofa seems the best option. But do you want to go on feeling like this right into the New Year? Or are those half-price puddings proving just too much of a temptation? With the New Year on the way and the promise of a fresh start, we have more motivation than ever to put the selection boxes behind us and work on our behinds! When all is said, done and devoured, pull out the following recovery tips and get your weight-loss programme - and your body - back in motion. Make a plan

One of the worst parts of a food hangover is the helpless feeling that you have lost control. But remember: you are in command of what you eat, so put yourself back in charge. Take 10 minutes to write down just how rotten you feel now compared with how good you felt before being surrounded in chocolate, and then write down how you want to feel. You want to feel energetic, not lethargic; confident in yourself, not ashamed of your body. Spell out your eating and exercise plan for the day and get back in control. Don't let the lapse become a collapse!

When temptation strikes, think twice before you bite. This week, it might seem perfectly reasonable to polish off those mince pies. But one lapse leads to another, then another and, before you know it, it's a full-blown collapse. Before you give in, remember that emotions can be just as powerful an eating trigger as real hunger, and it's often hard to tell which is which. If you're craving more goodies, take a 10-minute time-out to examine your feelings. Are you really just bored, tired, or lonely? If emotions are fuelling your hunger, try a healthy alternative like a brisk walk first. Chances are it will calm you enough that you won't need to eat or drink. Hide the scales!

You won't like what you see. A combination of fat, sugar, salt and alcohol leads to bloating and fluid retention, pushing the number on the scales even higher. Don't panic! A few days of healthy eating, drinking water and regular exercise will get rid of this excess and give you a true reflection of your weight. Work out, but not till you pass out!

It would take days of running, swimming or frantic aerobics to burn off the kind of excess calories provided by just one piece of Christmas pud with even the tiniest spoon of brandy butter. But you don't have to burn it all off at once - that kind of thinking just sets you up to fail... and possibly seek solace in cake! You should definitely exercise, but don't punish yourself. Stick with a light cardiovascular workout, like walking or jogging. Think of exercise as a tension reducer and a way to get back in touch with your body rather than the price you have to pay for being 'bad'. Don't starve yourself, either. Try eating smaller, balanced meals evenly distributed throughout your day - and keep it up! Drink water! Drink water! Drink water!

Rather than rushing to the scales to assess how much damage you've done, get a glass of water. And then another. And another. Keep drinking water throughout the day. Water is a natural diuretic and thus a great way to wash away those toxins and prevent fluid retention. You could start by drinking warm water with lemon. Warm water is less shocking to your system and the citric acid jumpstarts your digestion. Up your calorie burn... with a nap!

Sleep is a secret agent in the war on weight. Bad sleep boosts stress hormones in the body. This makes blood sugars fluctuate even more wildly, leaving you hungry and staggering out to forage for more high-fat comfort goodies. A short 15-minute nap or quiet rest could do more good than the punitive three-hour gym session you were planning. Serve up some self-esteem!

You could spend the whole season kicking yourself. But don't let those mince pies cast a shadow over the rest of your Christmas. You might have gained a couple of pounds but you owe it to yourself to get back to a healthy weight you are happy with.
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