Thursday 26 April 2018

Karl Henry: Set yourself a holiday challenge

The build-up to Christmas will be jam-packed with temptations like party food and alcohol, so set a target and stay on track, says our fitness expert

Goals: Karl Henry has set himself a Christmas challenge of completing 1,000km
Goals: Karl Henry has set himself a Christmas challenge of completing 1,000km

Karl Henry

We are now officially into it, the Christmas season is in full swing with food, alcohol and parties galore. It tends to be around now that those those best-laid plans are starting to wane. It's getting harder to make those sessions, to keep the food as tight as you would like and the clothes are already starting to feel a little snug - and there's still two more weeks to go yet!

It is also around now that my clients tend to finish up for Christmas too, getting their challenges and homework for the two to three weeks that I won't see them. Challenges are what I give my clients each week between the training sessions, both for food and exercise, to help keep them focused, determined and will result in them eating better and getting more exercise done.

Over the Christmas period, this should be no different; challenges are the key to your own success, especially now as it's getting harder to do. It will be hard, there's no doubt about it - if it was easy everyone would do it.

But you can make it easier on yourself by making challenges for every seven days or even shorter if you find that too tough.

You have 17 days between now and New Year's Day. Those 17 days will make a big difference to how you feel and how you approach the new year.

You need to ask yourself, are you ready to take on the challenge, feel as healthy as possible during the break or wallow in the usual festive feeling of sluggishness and overall unhealthy feeling?

So what would the challenge entail? Here is my list of challenges that you could choose from or, feel free to make up your own.

Pick your challenges, make them visible and, all importantly, treat yourself to something as a reward for completing the challenge.

My own challenge is to complete 1,000km of either cycling or running from December 22 to December 31. A big ask, but also a great way to build some great fitness over the holidays, it gives me a reason to cycle in the bad weather, to run in the snow and to revel in the endorphins when I have completed it.

I am just like everyone else; I need challenges to keep my own motivation levels up and this one works well for me.

So here are some of the ones I think work really well over Christmas:

Do some form of exercise, for any duration every second day

But no matter what the exercise it needs to be at a high-enough intensity to get the benefits, getting out of breath but still able to hold a conversation.

To have a pint glass of water before you go to bed after a night out

This is a great way to rehydrate the body after a night out and means you will wake up in the morning feeling better.

Eat breakfast every morning, even when you don't feel like it

We know that having a healthy breakfast will ensure you eat healthier during the day and reduces your snacking during the day too.

Get out and exercise Christmas Day, in the morning before the festivities start.

I know this seems like a strange suggestion, but it makes such a big difference to your day, how you feel and how you eat too. Get a group of friends together, do the goal mile, a local swim, or create your own event and get moving.

Try this workout in the comfort of your own home every third day

60 seconds of the following with a 10-second break in-between: Press ups, burpees,tricep dips,running on the spot, squats,plank,side plank. Do five sets altogether.

Cook one new meal every evening

Cookbooks, cookery shows and recipes have never been more popular. It's a great skill to have and such a healthy way to eat, cooking the food yourself. Why not use your time off to find some new recipes, go shopping and cook some new meals. These are great ways to find your favourite meals that you know how to make during the year.

Find an exercise that you like and enjoy

If you have a little more time off, then why not use it to research some new ways to exercise, such as hillwalking, mountain biking, surfing or even indoor climbing? Fun exercise is the best way to stay healthy in the long term.

Pick some of these challenges or make your own, make them visible and make a commitment to them, find your reward and remember - you only get the reward if you complete the challenge! Happy Christmas!

Irish Independent

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