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The Discipline Fitness' Guide to the Festive Season

Monitor your Christmas List AND your health.

Summer is upon us, and that means the festive season is here!


After a long and eventful 2023, everyone is rightfully keen to ditch work for the year and party hard, especially if you haven’t seen friends or family members for a long while. But if you’re someone who has the goal of maintaining your health and fitness over this period at the forefront of your mind, or maybe you’re just looking to get a head start on those New Years fitness resolutions - then this guide will show you how you can stay fit and healthy over the festive season, without sacrificing the good times.


Keep Moving

With the sun coming out and the weather warming up for us in the Southern Hemisphere, the Christmas holidays are the perfect time of the year to get up and get moving. Depending on where you live, you’ve probably spent enough time inside this year and will be keen to get out of the house as much as possible!


Get outside for a run, take a long walk or get the bike out of storage and take it for a spin around the neighbourhood. Don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen when you’re out, and protect your skin from the fierce Aussie sun! Being someone that grew up on the beach, I can not promote safety on this enough!


If you're not the outdoors type and without work clogging up your schedule, there’s more than enough time to head to the gym, dive in at the local pool or join a fitness class over the summer holidays. You might even want to try out a completely different type of activity, such as boxing or aqua aerobics.


Speaking of getting your move on, some of you have likely left your Christmas shopping to the last minute again this year - if that last-minute dash around your local shopping centre doesn’t get your heart rate up and your blood pumping, I don’t know what will!


Portion Control

For a lot of people, Christmas Day means one thing: food!

There’s always more than enough food to go around at Christmas, with fold-out tables creaking under the weight of a variety of meat, seafood, pasta, rice and salad dishes that get served up for everyone - and that’s not including drinks and dessert!

For larger gatherings, it’s not uncommon to have lunch AND dinner on Christmas Day, plus leftovers to tackle on Boxing Day too. That’s a large volume of food and drink.


Am I telling you not to eat? Hell no! It’s Christmas Day, and you deserve to celebrate. But it’s important to stop eating before you feel full - not to continue just because your plate’s not empty yet, or because there’s too much food left at the table.

Try adding less to your plate on the first go, or even using a smaller plate to control your portion sizes a little. Even if you’re still hungry afterwards, you’ll trick your brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you did when it’s time for seconds.


The Holidays

Of course, it’s not just the big day when it’s worth managing your portions. This is the time of year when you’ve got the opportunity to head out with friends and family more often than usual, so it’s very easy to overindulge. Be mindful of how much you’re ordering when you’re eating out - in terms of meal size and the number of drinks - and try substituting foods, such as swapping your chips with a salad. These little choices can make a big difference.


Meal Prepping

Maybe you want to take this time to build some better food habits that you can put into place before the new year starts and you’re back at work.


Hydrate

New Year’s Eve

If Christmas is about food, then New Year's Eve is about drinks.

It’s a time to stay up late, say goodbye to the year and celebrate the new beginnings of another, and for some, these celebrations can get… messy. There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks, but downing them non-stop throughout the night is not going to be great for your body. Try alternating between an alcoholic beverage and a glass of water to keep hydrated, and give your body a bit more time to process that alcohol. Your head will thank you in the morning, and your body will thank you for limiting the number of beers you’re sinking.

Fun In The Sun

Speaking of hydration, it’s especially important to keep drinking enough water throughout summer. Our bodies dehydrate quickly as we sweat it out, so make sure you’ve got a water bottle handy when you’re leaving the house or spending the day outside or at the beach. An insulated water bottle is a great investment, as it’ll keep your water cool all day, even if it’s left in a hot car for a while.


I’ve previously written about the importance of hydration which talks about why your body needs water, and how much you should be drinking each day.


Self Care

Sleep

Don’t forget - it’s the holidays! The best thing you can do to care for your body is use this time to relax and reset before another busy year.


That means making sure you’re getting more than enough shut-eye - this is the perfect time of year to sleep in each morning and even have an afternoon siesta on those warm summer days! With the sun rising early and no need to wake up super early for work or to get kids to school, you’ll end up waking up at a time more natural for your body clock - that means you’ll be able to get that 6-8 hours of sleep and wake up more relaxed.

Relax

Staying healthy also encompasses mental health. Take the time to find activities that allow you to relax, destress, and reset over the holiday period, like catching up on reading, relaxing on the beach, getting out into the garden - anything that you find peaceful. Stress can have negative impacts on your body - especially your blood pressure and heart - so don’t overlook incorporating a calming activity into your day.


Conclusion

These tips and tricks will help guide you to make some healthier choices over the festive season, but remember: you’re on holiday!

If you eat a bit too much on Christmas Day, or if you feel like you’ve not been as active on one of your days off, it’s important to not beat yourself up over it. Take it a day at a time, do as best you can, and enjoy yourself. The holidays only happen once a year, so make the most out of them.

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