Holidays are critical to your health. Yep, CRITICAL! Your body needs time to relax and unwind, the chance to catch up on sleep and rebalance. As for your mind, an opportunity to stop ‘buzzing’ is priceless. Let’s be honest though, health benefits aside, a lot of us tend to use holidays as a chance to let our hair down, eat and drink a bit more than usual and typically exercise a whole lot less!
There’s nothing wrong with all that in the short term, of course. However, there’s truth to the saying, “too much of a good thing” and if Christmas Day celebrations spill over into Christmas week, month and… well, you get the drift. Before long you’re feeling sluggish, lazy, heavier than usual and starting to crave your old routine again.
If you’re off on a short break, just chillax and go with the flow! But if you’re taking a longer stint away this holiday season, it might be worth packing a few of these easy holiday fitness tips in your luggage, so you don’t have a big mountain to climb when you come back to reality.
1. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper
We’re not suggesting you skip dinner here, but making dinner the lightest meal of your day, avoiding starchy carbohydrates in the evening and making sure there are at least a few hours between dinner and bedtime will ensure you sleep better and wake up feeling lighter.
And if you end up indulging in restaurant dinners a lot over the holidays? Choose a menu option with a small piece of meat, fish or poultry (or a vegetarian protein like beans, legumes and tempeh) and lots of green veggies. Avoid filling up on potatoes, white rice, pasta, or bread. When it comes to dessert, well, you are on holidays, right? But sharing is so much more fun, and try to balance out those decadent desserts with low sugar choices the next day.
2. Keep your liver clean
Your liver is a powerhouse when it comes to burning fat. To help this super-efficient organ do its job and make sure you kick off 2019 feeling fresh as a daisy, minimise stimulants and alcohol as much as possible.
Addicted to coffee? You’re certainly not alone there! But if it bothers you that you really can’t live without your morning hit, a holiday could be a really good time to give your body a break. Herbal and green teas are handy substitutes and better for your health too.
Avoiding the bubbles or booze when you’re on a break can be hard, particularly if you’re around others who are drinking, so just try to enjoy the moment, choose the healthiest options and drink slowly, with plenty of water in between sips. Reach for red wine over white, clear spirits over dark and avoid sugary mixers (soda water is best and add fresh lime/mint for flavour). Try to fit in a few alcohol free days whenever you can.
Recover form a big night by starting your day with a glass of hot water and fresh lemon. Stay hydrated throughout the day with plenty of water and some fresh coconut water, plus green or white tea. A green veggie juice with some added parsley, beetroot and a ginger kick would be perfect too. Keep your meals light, starting with breakfast – scrambled eggs on sourdough with greens, or pre-soaked oats with coconut milk, or a big green smoothie. Heavy and fried foods are the worst thing you can put in your body at this point, it needs hydration and nutrients, stat!
3. Eat protein and a little good fat for brekky most days
Getting some protein in to your first meal of the day will help keep blood sugar (and insulin) levels under control, meaning your body is in fat burning mode for longer. Protein also keeps you feeling full and helps cut down on holiday snacking. And let’s face it, what better time for eggs and smashed avocado for brekky than holidays?!
4. Minimise sugar
Sugar comes in many sneaky forms, not just easily recognisable granules. Make sure you minimise hidden sources of sugar such as overly processed foods, sauces, sugary cereals, starches and takeaway – all the things you’re likely to encounter on holidays!
The best way to minimise eating sugar is to have an alternative handy, for example nuts and biltong are great travel snacks.
If you’re trying to make sense of nutritional labels, when it comes to the white stuff less than 5g of sugar per 100g is great, less than 10g per 100g is pretty good too, while more than 15g is getting kinda high.
5. Stay active
When you’re on holidays, it’s important to maintain some consistent physical activity between the hours of sunbaking, socialising and snoozing! The good news is, there’s no pressure to crank out full-on workouts every day – it’s good to change up your day-to-day routine and take a break from more intense training.
Get as much incidental activity as you can – play beach games, go for long walks at sunset, see the sights on foot, dance the night away, then squeeze a couple of decent workouts into each week and you might just come home fitter and leaner than you left!
If you’re away for more than a week or so, we recommend planning 2-3 structured workouts per week into your schedule. Bodyweight HIIT workouts are perfect for holidays!