Focusing on health and fitness can be challenging, especially during holidays. Not only do they bring extra opportunities for drinking and eating unhealthily, they also leave us with little time for exercising. This in turn leads to upset stomachs, guilty consciences and sluggish bodies. However, with a little planning and a strategy, you can enjoy a healthy and happy holiday and return to normality afterwards feeling good about your fitness.
Avoid sitting around for too long
Sitting for prolonged periods of time is detrimental to our health and wellbeing. However, research has shown that getting up every hour to perform some type of light activity (such as pacing around) reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Therefore, ensure you move at least every hour in addition to staying active with an exercise routine.
Take the option to stand rather than sit down where possible, for instance at parties and family gatherings. Additionally, aim to walk to places instead of drive when you can. If you are travelling, aim to explore and walk around rather than stay put.
Have a plan
You will need a strategy to maintain your diet and workout plan to successfully stay on track while also enjoying the holidays. For instance, rearrange your calories for the day if you have a big dinner planned. This can be achieved by opting for a protein shake over a heavy meal for lunch to keep your hunger at bay and keep most of your daily calorie allowance for dinner. This way, you can treat yourself to a nice meal and time with family and friends, while also sticking to your diet plans.
Track your activity levels and food intake to make the right adjustments and successfully stay within your limits. Plan your workouts for the week – ideally in the morning to avoid distractions that may arise in the day – and track your success rate.
If you are travelling, book a hotel with a fitness centre and pool. Alternatively, invest in portable equipment such as resistance bands and jumping ropes. Prepare a workout playlist to keep you motivated and wear equipment to track your steps.
Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ mentality
When it comes to food, there is always the trap of falling for an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Allow yourself to enjoy the holidays as a few days indulging will most likely have little impact on your fitness goals. On the other hand, do not go all-out and binge the whole time as you may start a pattern of daily treats and unhealthy habits that are more difficult to shake off. If you are cooking for guests, try healthy alternative recipes to some of your traditional holiday favourites.
Additionally, a quick workout session at home is always possible when busy schedules stop us from going to the gym. Even if it is just a 10-minute workout, our bodies will always benefit from the increase in activity. It is all about finding the right balance to stay on track while also enjoying your holiday.
Choose to drink water and herbal teas when possible to stay hydrated, particularly if your holiday is in a hot location. Drink two cups of water first thing when you wake up, and when you feel hungry out of normal meal times, as thirst can sometimes be confused with hunger. Aim to drink a few glasses of water before each meal, as this can help you binge less on both food and drink.
If you find the idea of plain water unappealing, try adding a few slices of fruit such as fresh berries and lemon to help flavour your water.
Sneak in extra activities
Get creative with exercise and find fun ways to sneak more active time into your holiday schedule.
If you are away, explore new group fitness classes and sign up for more active ways to explore your destination. Try to walk rather than take public transport, or perhaps jump off a few stops early – you will end up discovering more of your destination on top of staying fit!
If you are at home, make quality time with family and friends more active. Choose to go cycling, hiking, skating or anything physically active rather than go for a meal or drinks to socialise. Invite visiting friends and family to your gym and exercise together. If you host a dinner or event, invite your guests for a stroll between activities or courses.
Relax and enjoy!
Remember the holidays are there to help us relax and enjoy quality time with our loved ones. Do not make your health and fitness an element of worry, and aim to keep your current fitness levels rather than try and improve over the holidays. If your usual goal is to lose weight, ease off the pressure during the holidays by aiming to simply maintain your current weight. If your goal is to gain muscle, allow yourself to simply keep your current muscle mass.
You have made progress over the course of the year and are allowed some downtime to indulge a little more!