Don’t start the year feeling like a slug

Posted on Posted in Health + Wellness

This story was originally published on ABC News Online . . . 

Picture this: it’s February 1 and you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself.

You’re back at work, wearing clothes from several seasons ago that still fit and feeling free of the usual post-holiday guilt.

Feels amazing, right? Thing is, when was the last time this really happened?

It’s hardly breaking news, but many of us come out of the holiday season carrying extra baggage (and no we don’t mean your carry-on). Nutrition Australia says on average Aussies gain between 0.8 and 1.5 kilograms over Christmas.

While that’s not a huge amount of weight, it’s well-known kilos gained are hard to lose. One study suggests many of us are still carrying holiday kilograms the following September.

By then it’s only a few months until we repeat the cycle. So it goes, year after year, until that extra 1.5 kilos becomes 15 kilograms.

It’s not that we don’t try to do something about our holiday blowouts. Like clockwork, at the start of every year, it’s DEFCON 1 in my gym. The guilt, shame and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions propel everyone out of bed and into spin class.

My gym becomes some kind of reverse panic room, where the mayhem is contained inside.

But within a few months the level of activity dies down – life gets busier, days get shorter and our motivation wanes.

To be completely honest, the boom times are fantastic for trainers; getting new clients couldn’t be easier. Yet for many of us that’s not why we’re in this business. We’d much prefer you to be feeling great and brimming with body confidence all year round.

Get a head start

So why not consider beginning (or continuing to stick with) a solid exercise (and overall health) routine before the holidays this year?

You’ll be much more likely to have a healthier mindset by the time the festive season is in full swing. You’ll be more likely to squeeze in a workout before Christmas drinks, go for a lunchtime walk rather than another catch-up at the pub and find something active to do instead of sitting on your backside in front of Carols in the Domain/National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation/the Boxing Day Test.

So if you want to make it through the silly season in reasonable nick, and find yourself feeling pretty chuffed when February rolls around, consider some of the following ideas.

  1. Don’t reverse engineer the damage. Don’t quit booze and sugar now and then unleash over Christmas. Try and practise a bit of moderation throughout.
  2. Get real on food. Fact: you’re going to overeat at some point. But that doesn’t equate to a complete free-for-all. There’s no need to have your nose in the trough 24/7, so be sensible. Christmas is one day – and the only time rum balls are an acceptable breakfast food.
  3. Plan ahead to keep moving. Let’s be realistic – most of us won’t stick to our regular workout schedule when we’re out of our routine. Instead, have an exercise plan in your head in advance. Where will you be? What type and amount of exercise can you realistically do? A long walk on the beach or a swim, for example? Or you might walk to the restaurant or bar instead of taking a cab. Of course things always come up, but have a rough idea in your head, then commit to it.
  4. Think about the end game. Remember that scenario of February 1, 2016? Think about it in a little more detail now. What specifically does that look like and how does it make you feel? What would it mean to you if that were a reality? Get those answers clear in your mind because they’re what will prevent you from going gung-ho when Gran whips out her Christmas cake.