The holiday season is upon us and while it is a great time to relax and unwind with friends and family, the festivities can wreck havoc with your exercise and eating programme. Once festive season parties begin it is all too easy to replace exercise time for an extra drink at the bar or a few more minutes around the cookie jar. Peter Jordan, Principal Officer of Fedhealth, says while letting your hair down for a couple of days will not do your health or fitness any harm its when this extends from the beginning of December to well into the New Year that it becomes a problem. “According to a survey done by The British Dietetic Association, on average, people gain 2kg in the four weeks around Christmas alone. Research shows that this 500g per week weight gain can continue well into the New Year too,” he says.
While avoiding the celebratory meals during the festive season may not be an option for you, Jordan believes a healthy dose of exercise and avoiding total overindulgence can lead to a healthier you come the New Year. “Fortunately, unlike our Northern Hemisphere counterparts, we can spend time outdoors enjoying South Africa’s beautiful climate during the festive season. So take advantage of our sunny days and get active!” he says.
He offers the following 10 tips to fight the flab over the festive season:
- Exercise early in the morning. Even the most diligent person will struggle to find motivation to train after a long day at the beach and a lazy late lunch. Make the most of the early sunrise and head out before the rest of the family wakes up.
- Drink a glass of water before eating or drinking a soft drink. This will help to keep you from overindulging in those extra calories.
- Use exercise to explore new areas. Enjoy the adventure of running or cycling where you have never been before.
- Make exercise a family affair. Take the dog along. Let the kids ride alongside on their bikes.
- Try some new activities like swimming, rollerblading, sea-kayaking, stand up paddling, or a mountain bike ride. These are all great holiday activities that will still give you a good workout.
- Stick your training programme up on the fridge. Tick the days you do train and make a cross on days you don’t train.
- Many holiday towns have activities, like runs, over the festive season to attract holidaymakers. Check out the local newspaper for events near you.
- Buy yourself some cool new exercise gear. It will encourage you to put it on and get out there!
- Enjoy the warm summer evenings and go for a walk around the neighbourhood after dinner. This helps keep your metabolism high so you burn more calories while you sleep.
- Say no to seconds! Just because there is extra food around doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Enjoy the celebrations but avoid having seconds and getting into the habit of snacking throughout the day. Try keeping some healthy snack options, like fruit, around the house.
“There’s nothing more depressing than putting on your work clothes in January to discover they are quite a bit tighter than they were in November. Make this festive season a healthy one,” concludes Jordan.