The festive season is almost upon us and you wouldn’t be alone if you were excited about letting your hair hang right down after a tough 24 months.
Whilst undoubtedly important for us to recharge and reconnect at this time of year, multiple studies now suggest that as we swap our step counter for a champagne flute we may be setting our new year health and fitness ambitions back further than we thought.
So how do we enjoy a well earned rest without completely losing the health and fitness momentum we may have gained throughout the year?
We’ve got 5 practical festive-season tips to live by;
Sounds simple but it is REALLY important.
Keeping up your water consumption throughout the holidays has multiple benefits for you. To start with, it can be a natural distraction for bad, alternate options when you’re thirsty (I for one am guilty of consuming sugary, high-calorie drinks when I’m ‘thirsty’ on holidays!).
Water is also important if you, like many, increase your alcohol intake over the holidays. Rather than topping up your wine mindlessly on Christmas Day, why don’t you try the ‘one wine, one water’ approach to lessen your overall consumption?
2. Swap some dishes for healthier alternatives
We don’t expect you to swap your favourite Christmas dish with a low-calorie, less-fun option. Great food is one of the reasons we look forward to the festive season so much!
What we do encourage you to do though is to think mindfully about swapping some of the dishes (or ingredients) that sit alongside our ‘favourite’ dishes on our plate. Opt for the leafy green salad instead of the creamy potato salad, choose the turkey instead of the eye fillet. Mindless eating is a trap for many at this time of year - the more you think about what sits on your plate the better the decisions you will likely make (whilst still satisfying your festive-food cravings!).
3. Get creative with exercise
The beauty about digital fitness apps is that you can take them with you wherever you go. So you’ve always got an option in your pocket when it comes to exercise, even when you’re on holiday.
You wouldn’t be alone though if you feel you need a break from your regular exercise routine (digital or not). A break from that routine can actually be both mentally and physically beneficial. Cutting out exercise altogether though is not advised - like mindless eating it is one of the big health and fitness traps over the break. So what do you do then? The answer is to get creative with ways that you get your body moving. Jump in a kayak and go for a paddle, join in your kids’ backyard cricket game, ditch the car and walk to the shops for two weeks. The more you can incorporate your fitness into your ‘Funtime’ over the festive period the more successful you will be.
4. Reward system
We’re asking you to think about health and fitness habits over the festive period but all you really want to do is sip on a glass of wine and wind down. Sound like you?
The great news is you can do both. An effective way to have the best of both worlds is to promise yourself you can only do your ‘fun thing’ after you’ve done your ‘health and fitness’ thing! That might mean going out with friends for a drink only after you’ve gone for a run or making sure you eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast if you are out for dinner that night.
The more you can think about this balance/reward system on a daily basis the more effective it will be.
5. Keep momentum with one part of your program
You’ve had health and fitness momentum before - you are exercising consistently from week to week, you’ve got some good nutrition habits going and you feel on top of it all. It is a great feeling. Then the holidays hit and you throw it all out the window for 3 weeks of fun. By January that momentum you once enjoyed is proving difficult to rediscover and you’re in a stop/start health and fitness rhythm.
Whilst nobody expects you to maintain perfect momentum throughout the holiday period, consistently practicing one part of your program throughout the entire period can help you more easily discover your mojo when you return from holidays. Some people keep up their meditation routine, some maintain their smoothie-for-breakfast habit whilst others keep up their weekly runs.
Think about what makes most sense for the environment you are in and focus on doing that one thing consistently for the duration of your break. When you want to get things moving again in January your ‘momentum’ muscle has already been stretched and you should find it a lot easier to get back into the swing of things!