Again, it’s the holidays or as it’s known in South Africa, silly season has arrived. It’s that time of year where parties are plentiful, good food is not in short supply and there are friends and family to share it with!
But, if you’re like me and have been working towards getting fit and healthy for the year, then you know how disruptive the holidays can be to your hard work and efforts. Never mind the effects they can have on getting back into your fitness routine after the holidays. Not only is it important to stay healthy for the sake of being healthy but, because you don’t want to be at work feeling tired and worn out. This may even be the reason why you decided to make the change in the first place!
This may not be career specific however, your health does greatly affect your work life. So what can you do to battle the holidays health dip, to avoid the slump when getting back to work?
- Water, water and more water. It’s never easy to stick to water but you may not realise how much sugar that fruit juice, soft drink or alcohol contains. When there are so many events to attend with loved ones, all those drinks add up. Try and drink water first before you grab that wine and if you can, stick to water only as often as possible. This way you can eliminate many calories and by having water first you may find your thirst is quenched. Don’t be afraid to indulge a little bit here and there and have that one soft drink but don’t over indulge by having it every day. The sugar adds up!
- That brings me to moderation. With so much good food like pastries, cake, fried food and eating out, remember to do everything with moderation in mind. If there is a table full of sweets try and only pick two or three of your favourites and leave it at that. Be sensible in your choices. Instead of a whole slice of cake, have half, instead of eating that 2nd sausage roll, have some nuts. Moderation is key.
- Along with moderation comes some sacrifice. If you know that you will have a choice of 4 desserts after Christmas dinner, that are your favourites, then choose the best two and sacrifice the rest. Alternatively, have much smaller amounts of each desert. Yes, good food is always tempting but you can very easily limit your portions by taking a smaller plate and not having seconds, or by only choosing your top two choices in a food group. We all have the willpower of a Greek god, so use it! On the plus side, that chocolate mouse is going to feel a lot more rewarding as a treat and you will savour the moment more.
- Exercise. It may be very difficult to maintain your current workout routine but you should really try to keep some sort of schedule during the holidays. If you don’t, you may run the risk of not getting back into it at all, after the celebrations. You may not be able to go to the gym every morning if you are away from home but, you can opt for a morning jog / walk. If you still have access to internet there are even wonderful sites like Fitness blender that offer 100’s of options you can do at home (No weights needed). Better yet, why not get your whole family involved? Why not organise for everyone to go take a walk on the beach or maybe get everyone in the swimming pool?
- Get out of the house and explore the city you are in. With all the holiday food and yumminess floating around, it’s easy to nibble on leftovers throughout the day if you are home. So, get out of the house and go sightseeing. Go to the beach for the day and pack a healthy picnic basket for everyone or maybe you enjoy hiking? Get outdoors and organise activities that are fun and if possible, have an exercise element to them. The more you are out of the house, the less likely you are to overeat without even realising it.
- Don’t stop buying healthy foods. At this time of year the habit we have built to buy healthy food, usually finds a way out the door. (Or any gap it can find.) So if you are visiting family and all you can find in the fridge is fudge and cheese, go get some healthy options. The fact that you bought it might make you choose your apple as a snack over the fudge, as you would not want to waste your money.
If you find after two days you are struggling to stick to moderation and being active, remember why you decided to make the change, when you first started your journey. Health and fitness is a lifestyle change and should not be temporary and most of your habits should carry you through the holidays.
It’s OK to be a little naughty here and there but, there is a huge difference between having a treat every now and then, to completely disregarding the habits you worked so hard to develop over the last couple of months.
Remember your “why”, have a little fun, savour the good times and most of all, don’t beat yourself up if you find you did over indulge. The holidays are about enjoying yourself and having fun! Just make a point to get back into your routine after the silly season. If there is one promise to make to yourself, let it be that.
Wishing you all a happy festive season and a prosperous new year!