Karl Henry: Why holidays are bad for your health
With all-you-can-eat buffets, endless nights out and plenty of letting your hair down, it's easy to lose sight of looking after yourself. But there are secrets to sticking to your schedule, writes our fitness expert
Temperatures have been hotting up - and it looks like there may be some more good weather to come.
The summer can be such a messy time, and with schedules all over the place and more evenings out than normal, it can be a very hard time to stay healthy, and even harder not to put on weight.
August is the culmination of this, the peak holiday time with the most people taking time off work and letting their hair down. It's one of those times of year where my clients find the hardest to maintain their results.
With this in mind, I thought I would set you an August challenge. Over the course of my columns next month, I want to take you step by step through the month, with three challenges to do each week. Just three.
If I try to get you to do too much, then it won't happen, so let's aim for just three. Each week you will have:
• One workout challenge that can be done anywhere and will take no longer than 30 minutes max, working all the body parts.
• One recipe to cook, one of my #superfastfitfood recipes that even the worst cook in the world will be able to make - healthy, nutritious and yummy.
• One cardiovascular workout to do. Again, this will be something that can be done anywhere with any type of cardiovascular exercise, walking, running, swimming etc.
That doesn't seem too scary now, does it? The most important element of staying healthy on holidays is simply keeping some structure to your day.
Lack of structure always leads to poor eating and exercise habits - always. The August challenge is designed to give you some of that structure in terms of health. You can do more than the three things, do as many as you like, but if you can set small goals and achieve them, you are more likely to keep on going, as opposed to aiming to do something unrealistic, which can so often be the case - and once you miss one workout, you begin to miss a lot more.
With holidays in mind and the challenge now in place to keep you on the straight and narrow, here are my top 10 tips for staying healthy on holiday, tips that will help you on your challenge and help you to succeed:
1. Be definite at the buffet
Buffet meals are a disaster when it comes to waistlines. Unlimited food and drink causes you to gorge and try to eat and taste everything on display, which is never good. Instead, try to stick to three actual courses. A salad, then protein and vegetables and then a treat for desert. One of each. Simple and effective.
2. Get the water ready
It can be so easy to order cocktails at the pool, not because you want one, but because you are thirsty and it is warm. Instead, try to stock up on water when you arrive, buying some of the 1.5 litre six-packs, and have one beside you at all times.
3. Get your exercise done early
The earlier you get to train, the fewer excuses you will have during the day to not do it. You will also feel better for the day, as those endorphins will be kicking in!
4. Alcohol at one meal only
It can be all too easy to slip into the habit of having alcohol at lunch, then one or two, and then again with dinner. I'm all for balance, but remember alcohol is just liquid calories, generally sugar that won't do your health any good at all. It's fine in moderation, obviously, but just aim to keep it to one meal!
5. Use your feet
If you have to go somewhere, then why not walk as opposed to getting a cab or bus? It's your holidays, you're laid-back and relaxed, the weather is good, so why not? The exercise will do your body the world of good, and it's adding to your daily movement.
6. Start a Whatsapp group
This is something my friends and I do, we have a group where we help to keep each other motivated with challenges, and just generally healthy vibes, all the time. It's a bit of fun but will also help to keep you healthy.
7. Weigh yourself before you go
Yes, it's all about muscle versus fat at the moment, but knowing your weight before you travel and knowing you will be checking it again when you come home is also a great way to keep you focused when you're away.
8. Keep a journal
Food diaries are a simple,cheap and surprisingly effective way of staying healthy. You will always be surprised at just what actually consume.
9. Get your family involved
Remember any activity counts, so play tennis, swim, run, cycle... just get moving. Why not get your family and friends involved too - the more the merrier.
10. Above all, have fun...
...and destress. Stress is bad for your health, in lots of different ways.
So above all, when on holidays, do whatever it is you do to relax and unwind, and bring your stress levels down as much as possible.
Next week, we are good to go on the August health challenge, so get ready, cut out the homework and let's stay healthy this summer.