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Bouncing back after a binge

Of all the life-changing experiences he has enjoyed Richard Meadows almost certainly counts eating 222 large pizzas in 222 days as one of the more extreme.

A financial journalist who traded a high pressured life at a news desk in favour of mini-retirement in South East Asia, Meadows has had a number of life-altering experiences including hiking across the Himalayas in thongs and challenging himself to read 100 books in a year.

But it is for his first challenge which occurred in New Zealand for which Meadows, who documents his adventures on his blog Deep Dish, is best known. Meadows says he was feeling weak and out of shape when he made the decision to undertake a daily pizza project to test whether the food’s unhealthy reputation was justified.

Determined to prove that by combining his daily pizza fix with a work out at the gym he could get fit and lower his cholesterol while still enjoying the food he loves, he set to work, arriving at the finish line exactly 223 days later, having done exactly that.

In the three years since undertaking his “experiment”, Meadows has managed to resume his pre-pizza-project healthy diet while also dropping a further 20 kilos through a mix of calisthenics and other exercise.

But while his is an extreme example, most of us at one point or another are likely to fall of the wagon when it comes to practicing healthy eating habits.

Overeating is a problem almost everyone faces at one point or another, and an unexpected binge can not only derail any progress but also impact your motivation levels.

But help is at hand and there are several easy steps you can take to get back on track and continue your journey towards a healthy balanced lifestyle.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in strata complexes have a range of exercise options at our disposal. While choosing to charge up the stairs rather than rely on the lift is an obvious solution to getting our post-binge health back on track, so too is donning our swimmers to take a dip, digging our runners out of the closet and taking to nearby walking tracks or even dusting off our paddles for a spot of table tennis.

In fact, you don’t even need to leave your apartment or townhouse to find a less obvious way to build exercise momentum post-binge. Try utilising a chair or couch in your living room to do work those triceps with dips, use spare space in your bedroom to do planks or your balcony for push-ups or other body weight exercises.

 

Multi-national gymnasium brand Les Mills says physiologically, the first thing you should do after an over-indulgence is to free yourself of the guilt associated with a food binge as this can often prove more damaging than the overeating itself.

“Move on and just consider it a temporary setback. Don’t starve yourself as penance. This will only make your body store more fat. Regroup and focus on a balanced, healthy routine.”

Next, it suggests you attempt to gain back control by formalising your plan of attack for upcoming days, weeks and months.

Plan your meals and increase your exercise. When you have written down clear goals, your mind starts to focus more on how to achieve those goals. Even the smallest of actions lead to big results.”

While exercise is usually the first thing compromised following a binge, it is worthwhile establishing a regular exercise routine to ensure your fitness gets back on track.

And while you are in planning mode, Les Mills also suggests some post-binge reflection works best if you have also put together a plan for your meals.

It says a good breakfast where you start the day with a protein packed breakfast or a green smoothie will keep you fuller for longer and make you less hungry throughout the day.

While water is known to aid energy levels and brain function, drinking it before meals can also assist with hunger pains while ensuring you eat less during meals, ensuring you are less likely to binge eat.

And should you find yourself again tempted to push boundaries when it comes to your eating, Meadows offers himself as proof that the following advice works.

“If there’s one takeaway from my takeaways tale, it’s this: short of a medical condition, there’s no reason we can’t find a way to fit the food we love into the overall context of our lifestyles.”

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