How to keep up a healthy routine

December 18, 2017

How to keep up a healthy routine

December 18, 2017

Do you have holiday blowouts? Do you go back to work feeling hungover, unfit and tired craving another break?

As a personal trainer, I have noticed a distinct pattern that kicks in at the beginning of December every year. For the ill-prepared, the end-of-year parties, dinners and drinks start to swamp schedules and healthy habits created over the last six months, become a distant memory.

Usually, the first thing to crumble is consistent training and following that is good nutrition. This becomes an ongoing cycle that often leads to poor sleep quality, low energy and dwindling motivation. Over the last five years, I have found that people who fall into this pattern wake up mid-February wondering what happened to their fitness, strength and vitality and when their clothes became so uncomfortable.

What is thought to be a two-week holiday blow out, in reality, ends up being three months of poor food choices and inconsistent training. No one wants to spend the next six months getting back to square one.

This sounds dramatic but is by no means an over exaggeration. In fact, it happens all the time. It happens on a smaller scale every weekend to those who fall into the restriction/binge cycle that accompanies the Monday-to-Friday mentality, a culture that promotes starving yourself during the week to only blow out all weekend, rinse and repeat.

I’m not saying: Don’t celebrate. Absolutely celebrate. Absolutely have some down time and let loose. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t take rocket science to avoid this cycle completely. Just keep a few vital components of your routine together, so that you can at least maintain the fitness and health you have worked hard to achieve as opposed to sabotaging it.

All it takes is a bit of planning and some small shifts in behaviour leading up to your time off.

Be prepared this year with these 5 simple holiday hacks.

1. Have a plan

Map out your ‘”deal week of training” and stick it on your fridge or save it to your phone. Make sure to cover the following:

  • How many training sessions will you commit to each week?
  • What does your training look like each day (e.g 5k run, 60 minutes of weight training, yoga class, etc.)?
  • When are your rest days?
  • Do you have a backup plan? If a meeting runs overtime and you can’t make it to a class, have a go-to training option that you can fall back on.

2. Prioritise

Being healthy doesn’t mean saying no to fun events and celebrations. It just means thinking about which ones are worth your time and effort. You don’t need to drink at every event. And in fact, if you do, I guarantee you now that your health will be impacted upon.

  • Choose the major events throughout December and save the champagne for those nights only.
  • Stick to five alcohol-free days per week.

Reschedule your workouts around these events to ensure you’re not missing training days.

3. Be prepared

Set aside 1-2 hours on a Sunday getting set up for the week. Meal preparation has never been so important. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it’s just about having convenient, healthy options in case you’re running short on time later in the week. Arm yourself with healthy snacks to munch on during the day to avoid the sugar-filled office snack. Protein balls, carrots and hummus or roasted almonds will give you protein and healthy fats to keep you going throughout the day.

  • Eat a proper meal before going to evening functions with finger food.
  • Maintain a healthy breakfast during this period.

Stick to the 80/20 rule for your lunch and dinners, making sure to eat good wholesome foods at least 80% of the time. This works out to be 2-3 meals a week where you can be a little more lax.

4. Make it social

Exercise is found to be a keystone habit for many people meaning it often has a positive effect on other healthy habits, for example, sleeping better, eating more mindfully and feeling happier. Be the instigator of more active, outdoor social events over this time. If you know there is a party or event in the evening organise a walk or morning workout with friends as opposed to a boozy brunch. It’s all about balance.

  • Invite friends to events where alcohol is not the main focus.
  • Be the healthy influencer for those around you.

Ask friends over for a workout or walk before getting ready for an event together.

5. Be accountable

It’s much easier to stay active and healthy if you have someone to share the journey with.

  • Get a friend or colleague on board. Share your workout target for the week and check in with each other every Sunday.
  • Start an online group or message thread to share your weekly workout targets and goals.
  • Book in with a personal trainer or commit to group sessions to keep you on track.


Image by Drazen_/iStock

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