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T’is the season to be jolly… so here are some healthy holiday tips to ensure you don’t de-rail your exercise and diet plan during the holiday season.

A healthy holiday shouldn’t just be about the physical – there is so much more to Christmas than eating and drinking. Those are just by-products of connecting with friends and family, taking some needed time off or exploring different parts of the world.

As the old adage goes “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Decide what your goals are for the Christmas season, however, for most, it may not be realistic to make weight-loss a priority over the next few weeks. Instead, consider weight-maintenance or… maybe even a moderate (pre-planned) increase… as a more realistic goal, which will still allow you to be social and enjoy the Christmas cheer!

Practice self-compassion – too often we are our harshest critics and indulge ourselves in negative self-talk. This quickly leads to bingeing as one “naughty meal” turns into an entire day, which can lead to an entire week before reaching the proverbial “Monday (or New Year) fresh start”. Be prepared that you may not adhere to ALL your healthy holiday plans, but sticking to some is certainly better than sticking to none, so don’t forget to hit the “refresh” button after the odd long lunch or a big night.

healthy holiday

Research some clever food swaps. We all have our favourite Christmas treat that we can’t say no to, but if you are preparing it, with a bit of planning, it may be possible to reduce the calories with a few ingredient substitutions.

If you’re trying to minimise your sugar intake, know your alternatives – the best options for the occasional treat are stevia and rice malt syrup, which has no fructose in them. Other alternatives such as honey, coconut sugar or dates still have relatively high fructose levels, however, are better than regular, refined sugar. Sugar is not only high in energy but also causes a yo-yo effect on energy levels and is very addictive, which can quickly lead to a binge eating cycle.

Another healthy holiday tip is to make water your best friend. Start the day with lemon water – not only does this have health benefits, it also helps set the right tone for the rest of the day. Drinking water during a meal can help with reaching satiety sooner, and when drinking alcohol, try to match every glass with two glasses of water. You’ll be grateful the next morning!

Most importantly – keep moving and try to stay in an exercise routine. Book yourself into the holiday Pilates or fitness classes, arrange with friends to do early morning fasted walks (good for fat burning) or if on holiday, try an online Pilates program (The Body Refinery Online is offering a 20% discount over Christmas with the code PILATESJOURNEY20!) or try out different exercise classes, new activities, or explore the local area on foot. And remember that the little things count too: take the stairs; walk to the shops; leave your Christmas shopping until the last minute so that you absolutely fly through the stores…

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