Let’s be honest – it’s hard to keep up our healthful habits during the holidays. With so many parties and sweets galore, it’s easy to fall off the wellness wagon. But, with a little will-power and a conscious effort, it is, in fact, possible to still enjoy the festive season while keeping our health on track. Personal trainer Donna O’Shea shares her top 10 tips. (Psst…for a spread of Christmas articles, including stunning holiday make-up and decor ideas, head here.)
1. Start with lemon water
Kick off your day with a cup of warm water and fresh lemon. This aids digestion, boosts your immune system, balances pH levels and helps with weight loss.
2. Eat a healthy breakfast
Eating a breakfast that contains complex carbohydrates and protein will sustain your energy level throughout the morning and keep you from reaching for sugary snacks. Try poached eggs on wholemeal bread.
3. Pay attention to portion control
Holiday parties are hazardous. Fill your plate once so that you have control over your portion size instead of going back and adding to your plate throughout the meal.
4. Stay hydrated
The festive season often brings with it increased alcohol consumption. Avoid putting a strain on your organs and ward off headaches by keeping yourself hydrated. Up your usual intake of water – you should be aiming for a minimum of two litres of water per day.
5. Think of rainbows
Aim to have a “rainbow” of foods on your plate by reducing the amount of processed “white foods” like crisps, biscuits, white pasta and sugar, for instance, and replacing them with fresh and natural red, orange, yellow, purple and green foods. This will ensure that you get the range of vitamins and antioxidants your body needs to function healthily.
6. Reduce caffeinated drinks
The holidays can be a hectic and sometimes stressful time, so we reach for a coffee, soda or energy drink for a quick energy boost. Although these can provide a short lift, continuous consumption of them can lead to sleeplessness and fatigue, so you resort to yet another caffeine or sugar hit. As an alternative, try carrying some herbal tea bags in your handbag while on the go – peppermint and ginger teas aid digestion, and chamomile relaxes you.
7. Stay active
Keep the body moving and the heart strong by maintaining regular exercise throughout the holidays. You’re probably consuming more, so you need to move more – even walking for 20 minutes a day will help stave off weight gain.
8. Invest in a resistance band
If you’re travelling over the holidays and are worried about being away from the gym, pack a resistance band in your luggage. They’re small and lightweight, and there’s a wide range of exercises you can do with them.
9. Remember to stretch
Your body needs it more than you think. Taking 10 to 15 minutes each day to stretch and relax your muscles can help you avoid future injuries, aches and pains and loss of mobility, and increase your flexibility.
10. Get a vitamin boost
Incorporate a smoothie into your daily routine. There are lots of variations you can try – all you need is a blender.
Recipe: Orange Apple and Banana Smoothie
This smoothie’s particularly good if you’re suffering from a hangover or simply feel run-down. It will top up potassium levels and contains vitamin C and other antioxidants.
• 120ml fresh orange juice
• One banana
• One apple, cut into slices
• Handful of ice cubes
Method: Just put the ingredients into a blender and blitz!
Donna’s Quick Mini-circuit Workout
If you’re short on time but desperate for a fast workout that can be done at home or away, then try this mini-circuit regimen. Start with one round and increase it up to three as you improve – and, don’t forget to warm up first and stretch afterwards!
• Start with 30 seconds of knee-highs on the spot (lift knees one by one while standing in place)
• 25 jumping jacks
• 10 push-ups (or, as an alternative, box push-ups with knees on the ground)
• 30-second plank
• 15 lunges (on each side)
• 15 tricep dips
• 20 sit-ups
• Finish with another 30-second plank
Like this? Read more at our health and fitness section.