Nicole Frie

Spring break might be behind you, but reminders of it are everywhere -- a stinging sunburn, exhaustion from late-night parties and maybe even a beer belly where that beach body used to be. With some tips from the experts, your transition from hitting the beach to hitting the books will be an easy one!

Skin Damage

Sunburn is probably the most prevalent of your concerns -- not just because it’s painful and makes skin red and peeling, but because, well, everyone can see it. So even if you resemble Malin Akerman in The Heartbreak Kid, there is still hope! Dr. George Kuffner, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Wooster, Ohio, explains the varying intensities of sunburn:

-- First-degree sunburn: Peeling or discoloration of skin

-- Severe first-degree sunburn: Redness, tenderness and often more pain

-- Second-degree sunburn: Small water blisters or large blisters

To alleviate symptoms, Kuffner recommends the following:

-- Steer clear of the sun

“If you do get a sunburn, take some time out. Try to calm it down and not keep exposing the area, until the redness and tenderness are gone.”

-- Soak

Kuffner prescribes drawing a tub of tepid water, adding mineral oil or Epsom salt, and soaking for 10 to 20 minutes.

-- Slather it on. Aquaphor or anti-inflammatory creams help soothe and heal skin.

-- Pop some pills

Taking over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen or Tylenol can help ease pain.

-- Wrap it up

“The skin is so tender it’s hard to put stuff on. But it’s important to keep sores from blisters open,” says Kuffner. He recommends nonstick sterile pads covered with gauze to protect these areas.

Weight Gain

You know all that hard work you put into getting your body beach-ready? Don’t stop just because spring break is over. Work your way back into an exercise routine and remember: You are what you eat! So ...

-- Be patient. A safe and effective way to lose weight is to eat 300 to 500 fewer calories than you normally do. This should result in a 1- to 2-pound loss per week. Don’t go for the “quick fix” by depriving yourself! Losing weight gradually will allow you to keep it off.

-- Pay attention! Knowing which fats you’re putting into your body can reduce further weight gain, particularly in that troublesome tummy area. “There is a lot of good reason showing us that saturated and trans fats may promote abdominal fat more than [do] healthier fats,” explains Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Medical Center. “There definitely are good fats and bad fats,” she adds. Good fats like avocados and olive oil come from plant sources, and bad fats like dairy products typically come from animal sources.

-- Avoid the drive thru. Fast food was probably a spring break staple, but don’t let it become a habit. Weinandy suggests avoiding it -- and its trans fat (bad fat) content -- regularly. Giving up soft drinks is another great way to cut substantial calories.

Snack smart.

Weinandy recommends eating three small meals and a snack or two a day. Always on the go? Pick snacks like fruit, cut-up veggies or homemade trail mix. Making healthful choices fills you up and helps you avoid junk food.

Fighting Fatigue

After a wild spring break, it’s time to catch some z’s instead of catching rays. Acute fatigue results from short-term sleep loss or short periods of heavy activity, and it can lead to reduced productivity. Some studies even show that reduced reaction time caused by fatigue is like being legally intoxicated. Here’s how to get back on track:

-- Have a routine.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. If you can’t sleep, get up and do something until you can.

-- Eat brain food.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are really good for brain function,” says Weinandy, who names fish as an excellent source. She also recommends foods high in antioxidants, like berries, to boost brainpower.

-- Eat for energy.

Increasing energy is all about how you eat. “One of the worst things I see people do is skip breakfast,” says Weinandy. She suggests nuts as great snacks for energy but warns against eating too many: “Limit it to a small handful.”


So you traded the water bottle for a lot of coffee, energy drinks and other libations during break? According to the University of Illinois Medical Center, it only takes a small drop in water level to cause dehydration. When fluid intake drops below fluid loss, feelings of lightheadedness and a dry mouth ensue. Here’s how to make your body H2O happy:

-- Drink up!

The eight-glasses-of-water-per-day rule is kind of a myth, but “it’s a good estimate,” according to Weinandy.

-- Cut out caffeine.

The University of Illinois Medical Center recommends avoiding caffeinated beverages if you need to rehydrate, since caffeine promotes more fluid loss through urination.

-- Eat water-rich foods.

Cantaloupe and watermelon have a high water content.


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Health - Bounce Back From Spring Break