I've had the same conversation with several friends since the Easter holidays and May bank holiday weekend.
It goes like this.
"Did you have a good time?"
"Brilliant thanks but I've really overdone it. Ate too much and dropped my usual exercise regime. I really need to get back into it before summer."
I'd like to add that I'm in exactly the same boat. And, to a certain extent, I think that's what holidays are about. It's time to relax (or to be a different kind of busy), time to try different kinds of foods and certainly not time to obsess about whether you've missed a spin class or exceeded your normal daily calorie allowance.
Nonetheless, no-one likes the feeling of sluggishness and too-tight clothes that accompany a little weight gain. I don't really do diets and I tend not to weigh myself as I can generally tell by the fit of my jeans how I'm doing.
How to tackle those few excess pounds without investing in a new wardrobe then? I try to follow some common-sense, easy-to-integrate lifestyle ideas, many of which I've learned from my mum. She's one of the few people I know who seems to achieve self-discipline without self-denial. And because she should probably have a frugal blog of her own, none of it involves signing up for a weight management club or gym membership (although by all means go for it if it works for you and you can afford it).
In no particular order, and bearing in mind that I have zero nutritional or fitness qualifications (!), here we go....
1. A little less - Note the emphasis on little. If you cut down your intake drastically, you'll be miserable and permanently hungry. I'm talking about half a slice of toast instead of a whole one, no cream on your pudding and less Parmesan on your bowl of pasta. Little changes over time = noticeable results.
2. A little more - Again, I'm talking minor changes. This time I mean exercise. I know that some people cringe just at the thought of it, so I'm not dictating full-blown workouts here. Baby steps people! Replace one of the daily school runs with a walk, stride round the block for ten minutes at lunchtime or force yourself to do twenty sit-ups each morning. Whatever is manageable and sustainable for you.
3. Shift the balance - Think about your plate proportions. Is it do-able to adjust the balance slightly so that there's more veg and less chicken smothered in sauce?
4. Treat swap - I'm guessing that most of you know about this one. Apparently we crave textures as much as flavours. When I'm cutting back, I'll have a really nice low fat yogurt or sorbet instead of ice cream. It works for me because I genuinely enjoy them. Why not experiment a little and see if you can find some acceptable treat substitutes?
5. No bans - While I'm suggesting treat swaps above, I try to never completely ban anything. Perhaps it's a sign of my contrary personality but I simply end up craving it. Everything in moderation. Bans are banned in my average kitchen.
6. Mint - Bit of a strange one this but it genuinely helps me out. I often get to the end of my meal craving something sweet or feeling I'm owe something extra. In reality I don't need it. So, I make a deal with myself: I'll have a cup of peppermint tea and if I'm still hungry half an hour later, then I'll have something more. I rarely ever need the extra. I think this works because the mint tea is the psychological equivalent of brushing my teeth. Also, I was full up in the first place. (Don't like peppermint tea? Try a mint tic tac instead.)
7. Focus - We're all wired differently but for some people having a target event to work towards can really help them to focus on healthier choices. Summer weddings and beach holidays instantly spring to mind. For my own part, I have a gala dinner to attend next month. I am excited and terrified in equal measure; I'm delighted to be attending the event but terrified as the only suitable dress in my wardrobe is completely unforgiving...
Guess I better start practising what I preach then?!