Fitness & nutrition tips to survive the holiday season
When it comes to Christmas I LOVE baking. I go full-blown domestic goddess and create a number of gift baskets with around 10 or more different items in each of them. Now that I’ve been making these for around a decade I’ve managed to stop eating the raw dough when making cookies, eating the Oreos before they make it into the Oreo truffles, and ‘sampling’ all the items when assembling the baskets…
But then of course along comes Christmas Day food – and subsequent leftovers – that seem to continue coming right through Boxing Day and New Year. And then there are the invitations to summer parties, barbecues, and a raft of other social events that not only interrupt our normal nutrition routine, but also our fitness routine.
It’s not just about the holiday weight gain; most of us know that ‘bleurgh’ feeling after over-indulging and not moving our body enough for a number of days in a row. But it’s still possible to celebrate and have a great social time without the holiday health hangover!
Here are my top fitness and nutrition tips to survive this holiday season.
Be mindful of your eating
I’m never one to advocate cutting out foods entirely; especially when it’s a special occasion. The last thing you want to be doing is passing on the stuffed Christmas turkey and the chocolate mousse because they’re not ‘clean’ enough or they are too high in calories. However, that said, I do believe in moderation.
- Try not to turn up to events starving. For the same reason it’s best not to go supermarket shopping when you’re hungry. Have something small before you leave the house so you don’t go overboard once all the exciting food is laid out in front of you.
- Try to pay attention to your stomach’s cues and stop eating when you’re almost full. By the time your food reaches you’re stomach, you’ll likely be full/satisfied which is better than feeling over-stuffed.
- Overeating is easy to do when there’s a lot of various food options out on the table; fill up your plate once with a smaller variety of options. Be mindful of what you’re adding to your plate so you don’t have to go back for seconds, and you’re more likely to feel satisfied without overdoing it.
- Fill up on the ‘good stuff’ first. Salads and colourful veges. Lean meats rather than sausages. You get the idea.
Get comfortable with saying ‘no’
We are far too polite when it comes to food being offered to us. The problem with the festive season is that we are getting those offerings all the time, and they do have a tendency to add up. While you may not be able to turn down a slice of Great Aunt Mildred’s famous Christmas cake, pick and choose what other foods and drinks that are offered to you.
Get comfortable with saying ‘no’ and practice it every now and then. You’d be surprised how often we actually say ‘yes’ to things we don’t really want or need.
Keep active with a flexible routine
When the sun’s out and summer is in full swing, it often feels like the gym’s the last place you want to be. Not only that but most sports teams stop training and playing games over the holidays, many personal trainers stop working, and gym classes often take a break as well.
Even people with the best fitness routine in the leadup to Christmas can struggle to stay on track during this time. The key to making it through is simply having a focus on staying active in any kind of way each day – especially if it’s social and/or something you really enjoy doing.
Play soccer with your family at the park, go for a walk along the beach, take the dog for a run at your nearest dog-friendly park, do an exercise circuit outside on the grass. Summer is the perfect time to shake up your routine, get some Vitamin D and have some fun.
Drink in moderation
Along with the hot weather comes cold beers, juices and soft drinks, and more socialising can often equate to more alcoholic drinks.
As great as it is to stay hydrated, these drinks typically come laden with extra sugars and calories – and when we’re in social situations they are often accompanied by snacks. It’s also easy to down one drink after another as there’s usually nothing in them to make you feel full (such as fibre).
It’s a good idea to keep mindful of how much you’re drinking and space it out with plenty of water.
What to do if you fall off the bandwagon
Don’t freak out. And don’t say, ‘f*ck it I may as well give up and put it off until February’. It’s the holidays so cut yourself some slack. But you also don’t want it to pave the way for the rest of your summer.
Being mindful of your nutrition and activity in any kind of way will see you feeling better over the Christmas break and make it so much easier to take on the new year with a healthier mindset!
Image / NZ Real Health