How to Burn Calories & Get Back on Track After Holiday Indulgences

woman holding bar of chocolate during halloween

Holly Pinkham |

Ate a few too many pieces of your kid’s Halloween candy?  Had more beers than you planned on at Oktoberfest?

From Halloween until New Year’s Eve, it’s frustratingly easy to over-consume calories and feel sluggish, bloated, and even a few pounds heavier. Once you’ve slipped up, though, it’s not over! Don’t give up all of your efforts to lose or maintain weight just because you had a bad day – or a few.

Here are a few health hacks and a quick, high-intensity workout to get you back on track after a few days of over-indulging.

  1. Drink Lots of Water

Start your morning with a big glass of water, maybe adding some lemon for flavor and detoxing benefits. Drinking water will help to re-hydrate you after consuming high amounts of sodium, sugar and/or alcohol. It will also help get your metabolism going and improve digestion. Water also helps to reduce hunger, so be sure to drink a LOT of it all day long, aiming for one gallon.Lemon and glass of lemon water for detox

  1. Cut Back on Sodium

Nothing will make you feel worse than stepping on the scale after a calorie-packed weekend and seeing the scale go up by five pounds, or feeling like your pants won’t button as easily. Luckily, the majority of this is due to water-retention from salty foods, not true fat gain. As mentioned above, drinking water will help to flush a lot of this out of your system, but you should also intentionally cut back on sodium for a few days to feel better. Use salt-free seasonings on food, and avoid high-sodium, processed foods like these:

  • Packaged chips, crackers and popcorn
  • Soy sauce & ketchup
  • Cheese
  • Soup
  • Deli meats & preserved meats
  • Cereal
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Frozen foods
  • Salad dressing
  1. Fill up on Veggies and Lean Protein

Don’t skip meals after overeating, as tempting as it may be. This will only leave you hungry, cause your metabolism to nose-dive, and make you more likely to indulge again later. Instead, eat just slightly less than you normally would by filling up on high-fiber, high-protein foods that are “clean” and natural. This will keep you full and give your body a chance to recover from all of the greasy, sugary, and processed foods. An example day may look something like this:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomatoes, and asparagus; water with lemon
  • Snack: 1 oz. almonds, ½ apple, green tea
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast on a bed of greens with olive oil & vinegar and steamed broccoli (season with sodium-free spices and herbs)
  • Snack: 2-3 rice cakes with hummus, handful of berries
  • Dinner: Salmon or white fish with steamed green beans (season with sodium-free spices and herbs, lemon)
  1. Do Cardio & Sweat it Out!

One of the easiest ways to burn calories and get you out of your slump is by moving your body, particularly by doing some basic cardio that makes you sweat! Sweating will cause some sodium to leave your body so you’ll feel less bloated. And a good 30-45 minutes of jogging, playing basketball, using an elliptical, or taking a spin class will burn at least a few hundred calories. Depending on your weight and intensity, you may burn upwards of 500 calories.

 how to burn calories blog, woman using prosourcefit rubber medicine ball for push ups

  1. Workout with Intensity

Beyond performing somewhat-boring steady state cardio, try getting your heart rate up with a circuit workout that includes weights of any type. By combining weights with high-intensity movements, you not only burn a lot of calories during your workout, but afterward as well. This is known as “afterburn” which occurs when your body consumes a lot of oxygen and continues to do so post-workout. This means that even after you stop working out, your body will still be burning calories for at least a few hours – sometimes up to 24 - even when resting.

Try this medicine ball workout at home or at your gym for a great way to boost calorie burn throughout the holidays and avoid weight gain!


Instructions: Perform 3-4 rounds of this circuit as quickly as you can while maintaining good form. Take a 30-second break when you complete the last exercise. Choose a medicine ball that is challenging for you, ideally 10-25 pounds depending on your strength and fitness level. This is most effective with a rubber medicine ball, but you may use a soft medicine ball if needed.

  1. Medicine Ball Push-Ups – 10x

Start in a push-up position with one hand on the medicine ball. Perform one push-up, then roll the ball to the other hand. Place hand on ball, then perform another push-up. Continue passing the ball back and forth until you complete 10 reps.

  1. Russian Twists – 10x

Start seated, leaning back at a 45-degree angle with feet off the floor. Hold the ball near your chest, then rotate to one side, lowering the ball toward the floor. Repeat on the other side, moving slowly and with control. One time on each side counts as one rep.

  1. Medicine Ball Burpees – 10x

Start in a push-up position and balance with both hands on the ball. Jump both legs forward, outside of your hands. Grab onto the ball as you stand up, pressing the ball into the air once you reach a standing position. Return the ball back to the ground, then jump legs back to the starting position.

  1. Walking Lunge with Rotation – 10x (each)

Hold a medicine ball with both hands and extend it out in front of you as you lunge forward. Bend both knees at a 90-degree as you lower body toward the ground, keeping back knee off the ground. Pause and rotate to the side of your front knee, keeping arms straight and shoulders down and relaxed. Return to start, then press up and repeat on the opposite leg. Complete 10 reps on each leg.

  1. Wall Balls – 15x

Stand about 2-3 feet back from a sturdy wall (such as brick or concrete) with the ball in your hands. Feet should be wider than shoulder distance and feet slightly turned out. Toss the ball up as high as you can on the wall. As it bounces back, catch it and squat as you do so, going as low as you comfortably can. Press back up through your heels, tossing the ball up against the wall again as you stand.

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