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Simple strategies for a healthy holiday

The holidays: a chance to unwind, relax, catch up with family… and completely abandon the healthy lifestyle you’ve been creating for yourself!

How is it that a few days in December and January can so quickly throw us off our game?

Excuses not to exercise are everywhere; delicious sugary sweet food is EVERYWHERE; alcohol and sugar-laden drinks are everywhere. Work functions, visitors, BBQs, parties, friends, family and the big day itself, all take priority over healthy decisions.

And you know what? Mostly, these things SHOULD take priority!

A healthy lifestyle isn’t all about nutrition and exercise. Relationships and fun social activities are all part of living a healthy life. A little indulgence can be a good thing, and it’s normal.

However, when a couple of days of unhealthy decisions become 7-10 days of poor choices, it makes it challenging to get back on track with your normal routine.

Then, without realising it, a week can very quickly turn into a month of poor choices.

Three years ago I was right in the middle of my own mission to lose weight, and it was going well too. I’d lost about 30kg by the time I boarded the plane to spend Christmas, the New Year and an extra couple of weeks with friends and family in Australia. To make a long story short: I gained 5kg in a few short weeks and really struggled to get back on track.

Since then I’ve developed a strategy: Relax, have fun, but always DO something.

There’s a million blog posts that’ll give you some strategies for eating well over the holidays. They all contain useful advice like: stay hydrated, fill up on veges, limit your alcohol intake… common-sense stuff that mostly we know.

Instead, my advice is to simply do what you can, when you can. Do anything to maintain some momentum, because doing something will always be better than doing nothing.

Here’s my plan for getting through the holiday period without losing momentum

  • A pre-emptive strike: On the days where I know I won’t have the willpower, or even the desire, to skip the unhealthy choices – like Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day – I’ll get up and do some really quick and simple bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, sit-ups and planks. Even if it’s just one set of each. Then I’ll go for a short 10-20 minute walk or run. Remember, doing something is always better than doing nothing.
  • Follow up every unhealthy meal with a healthy meal: I try to never go two in a row, so if I eat a less-than-ideal meal, I’ll do my best to make sure my next meal is a healthy option.
  • If it’s less than 2km, walk: Wherever I am, if my destination is within 2km, I’m walking.

That’s it. I refuse to beat myself up for enjoying the holidays and I refuse to let myself get stressed about the food choices that are in front of me – but I also refuse to completely abandon the healthy habits I’ve worked hard to develop over the last few years.

I encourage you to have a good time, relax and enjoy the company of your friends and family. Have a few drinks and enjoy the food on offer, but always do something. Doing something will always be better than doing nothing at all.

Shane Gosnell

This blog is the opinion and experiences of its author and should not be taken as medical or dietetic advice. Healthy Food Guide has not verified the content and cannot endorse any advice given. Healthy Food Guide recommends seeking professional health advice for specific complaints or symptoms, or before undertaking a weight-loss program.


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