How to lose the World Cup waist in five steps
If you've spent the last few weeks in the pub or over-indulging on the sofa at home, Maria Lally has the expert tips for shedding the heatwave half-stone
Studies show this year's heatwave gave Irish supermarkets a €27m boost, which experts say was largely due to people stocking up on beer, ice-cream and snacks.
As well as the increase in sales of summer staples, publicans and restaurateurs have seen spending rise 10pc, thanks to the likes of the World Cup helping to drive footfall.
This will come as no surprise to those of you reading this whose waists feel a little wider since the start of the World Cup and the heatwave.
"It's likely you've woken up this morning, after a busy few weeks celebrating the World Cup, or feeling too hot to sleep, and realised you really want to get in shape for your upcoming holiday," says Louise Parker, a London-based personal trainer whose clients include Emma Thompson.
"My first bit of advice is to not feel guilty about the last few weeks, because you no doubt enjoyed them and this also fuels an all-or-nothing mentality towards eating well and exercising. So instead, spend the next few weeks making changes that will see you through to your holiday and beyond. You can absolutely make a difference in a week or two, without doing anything too faddy or extreme, and you'll arrive on holiday looking and feeling better."
Don't skimp on your meals
Now isn't the time to start cutting (or even worrying about) calories, says Parker: "You need three meals a day and two snacks - it's that simple. But there are a few rules."
Firstly, have a decent amount of protein with every meal, which can be anything from meat and fish to crumbling some feta cheese over your salad. You also need a little fat and carbohydrates, but these should come primarily from fruits and vegetables, and your heavier grains should be at breakfast time so have things like porridge oats or brown toast. "And keep an eye on your portion sizes," says Parker.
Drink plenty of water, sticking to just two coffees or teas a day. "And if you're really serious about dropping body fat, have absolutely no sugar or alcohol between now and your holiday. As well as being calorific, alcohol weakens your resolve, slows down your metabolism and disrupts your sleep so you'll be more prone to making poor food choices in the day."
Exercise five times a week
"This sounds daunting, but even if you just do 10 minutes, you'll see a difference," says Parker. "And focus on cardio-conditioning, which is a mix of cardio and strength-training that will rev up your metabolism and tone your muscles so things like your arms and legs will look nicer on holiday.
"If you have to choose between straight cardio, like running, or strength training, I would always recommend opting for strength work before a holiday for the toning benefits. Use lighter weights and do lots of reps, rather than fewer reps with a higher weight. Forty minutes would be amazing, 25 minutes is ideal, but even 10 minutes will still result in a noticable difference by the time your holiday comes around."
Work out before you eat
When blood sugar levels are diminished, your body starts using body fat for fuel much faster. "When you exercise on a slightly emptier stomach - known as 'fasted workouts' - instead of the body taking 40 minutes to switch into fat-burning mode, it happens within 20. So you get a lot more out of your workouts," says Parker.
She also recommends getting your step count up doing "day-to-day stuff": "I work in an office and I have three children, so I know how easy it is to drive everywhere and sit a lot of the day. But between now and your holiday, walk up escalators, run up and down your stairs at home go for a brisk walk at lunchtime - and don't send an email when you can walk to your colleague's desk instead."
"One weight-loss tip people seem to forget is to sleep more," says Louise. "If you're really serious about getting extra weight off, then get seven or eight hours of sleep and the results will be staggeringly improved. Not sleeping enough is a profound contributory factor in fat gain, because sleep regulates the hormones directly linked to appetite, willpower and mood."
Parker suggests getting into a sleep routine by going to bed at the same time each night; studies show this helps us fall asleep quicker and stay asleep. Having a screen curfew 90 minutes before bedtime will also help - "I have an alarm on my phone that goes off at 9pm, which reminds me to turn off Netflix and put my phone away for the night," she says. To unwind, try a warm bath with lavender oil and half a cup of Epsom salts, before slipping into the "most delicious sleepwear you can afford".
It's all in a good cause: "Weight loss is like a four-legged stool consisting of stress, nutrition, exercise and sleep," says Parker. "If you scrimp on sleep, your weight loss efforts will never stand up."
Keep up the good work while you're away
Parker says it's often easier to be healthy on holiday than it is at home. "Booze aside, most of us are healthier on holiday because we're not rushing around trying to get children to school or commuting to work, we're less stressed, sleep more and, depending where you go, there's often an abundance of fresh fish and vegetables. Always start the day with an omelette or some brown toast with a couple of eggs.
"Because you're on holiday, something like a mini pastry from the buffet and a cappuccino is a lovely treat that won't make you feel deprived, nor cause too much of a sugar spike. Snack on a small handful of nuts, and at lunch and dinner have something like grilled meat or fish with a lovely big salad or some locally sourced, seasonal vegetables. And make a choice between the bread basket, dessert or a couple of glasses of wine or rosé. Most of my clients opt for the rosé…"
Parker also suggests keeping up some exercise on holiday: "Even if it's just a quick swim or gym session, try and do something every day, starting from your first day, so it quickly becomes an easy habit. When I'm away, I do fasted exercise for 20 minutes before breakfast, or around 4.30pm before I get ready for dinner.
"And that's it. Don't go any stricter than this, otherwise you'll flip into diet mode and the pendulum will eventually swing too far the other way when you begin to feel too deprived."