Saturday 23 June 2018

My best fitness hacks: adapt your health goals without undoing all the good work

Sweet nothings: Pass on dessert after Christmas dinner
Sweet nothings: Pass on dessert after Christmas dinner
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

This year has very much been the year of health and fitness. Never before have I seen the newspapers, social media and even the world of advertising so focused on health.

I also believe we began to see a shift in people taking personal responsibility for their health this year, tackling their weight and lack of fitness head on. If that sounds like you then a really big high five! In today's column, I want to give you my best fitness hacks - tips that will help you to adapt your fitness goals over the festive season; to survive it without undoing all the good work you have put in so far this year.

1. Get a pen and make a list

Undoubtedly the most important! Vague goals do very little for you and your waistline. Instead, you need to make a definitive list of what you are going to achieve over the Christmas break. Make the list, make it specific and make it visible by placing it somewhere you can see it. As you get the sessions done, tick off the list until you have none left. You will be amazed at how motivating this can be.

2. Don't try to overdo it

One of the mistakes so many people fall victim to is they make the challenge too big. It's an unachievable goal before it even begins. Be realistic - you know just how busy December is going to be, so you need to build it around that. You are far better off overachieving than under achieving.

3. Water with the wine

There is likely going to be alcohol and plenty of it, so let's work around that. A simple way to do this is to have a glass of water in-between each drink when you are out and also to have a glass of water beside your wine when at the dinner table. Sip between the two and you will help stay hydrated and reduce the effects of the alcohol too.

4. Make your first meal of the day healthy

Whatever you have for breakfast will set the tone for your food for the rest of the day. Start the day off healthily with some porridge or eggs and you stand a much greater chance of eating well later on. It's a simple change but one that will make such a big difference to your health.

5. Veg, veg and more veg

We all know just how big the Christmas dinner is going to be - it's my favourite meal of the year. One of the best food recommendations I can make for you is to load up on your vegetables over the festive period. Full of goodness and seriously filling, they are far better than loading up on the unhealthy creamy dishes.

6. Put down your knife and fork

As a nation, we are terrible for doing this. We just eat too fast. So when eating your meals over Christmas, do your body a favour, put down your knife and fork in-between each mouthful and chew your food for a good 30 seconds. The more work you do in your chewing phase, the less you will have to do in your stomach, improving your digestion.

7. Pass on dessert

Now this one is simple for me - with the exception of apple crumble, I don't fancy desserts at all. It's a simple food switch that can save you several hundred calories per MEAL! I am always fascinated by the calorie counts in desserts, so switch them for peppermint tea and you're on to a winner.

8. Do the Christmas Day swim or the Christmas mile

Races and charity events are all the rage these days and while they may be a bit of fun, they are actually a great way to stay healthy as a group.

Get a few friends or family involved and you will be having some fun as well as being healthy.

Irish Independent

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