Stay fit and healthy during your holiday

Good day All

Herewith a little thingy that I penned for a Fitness and Lifestyle publication a few years ago that you may want to distribute among your members?


It’s that time of year again where your social calendar is chock- a –block full of parties, celebrations, braais and office festivities, not to mention the allure of that long-awaited festive season holiday. How can one maintain fitness when there is so much going on?

Most of us exercise so diligently for 11 months of the year, building up fitness, losing weight, toning muscles and improving health and well-being, only to throw it all away during that notorious 12th month, December.  And then comes January, reality and logic return, with a good dollop of guilt, and we must now frantically get back to the discipline of regular exercise in an attempt to regain lost fitness.

Sadly many of us never return to exercise again, so demotivated are we at the loss of fitness and the appearance of those extra kilograms, that we postpone our return to exercise, sometimes indefinitely, and our weight, health and fitness deteriorate even further.

How about not having to go through all the trauma again this year, and it can be done without deprivation and having to forego all the fun and festivities.

The following is a list of ideas that will ensure that you stay fit, slim and healthy and still enjoy the festivities.

  • Devise a simple, but realistic, holiday exercise programme. Now is not the time to improve and increase distances and pace, maintenance is what it’s all about. This will immediately take the pressure off you and make it easier to stick with the programme. Remember that according to the American Sports Council 3 sessions per week of 30 –45 minutes is more than adequate to maintain health and fitness. Don’t fall into the trap of aiming for 6 sessions per week, you are bound to fail. Be realistic and set a target of a session every second day, and should you do an extra one you will feel oh so worthy and uplifted!
  • Train in the morning. You are far more likely to stick to the programme if you exercise first thing in the morning and get it out of the way, before the day evolves and you get ensnared by the holiday routine of eating and drinking.
  • Make your exercise part of the holiday, and don’t view it as an evil that has to be endured. Vary your routes to make it a sightseeing outing as well. Try running on the beach, through a strange suburb, and make mental notes of interesting garden designs or house plans. Use the run to locate banks, shops etc to help you familiarize yourself with the holiday destination.
  • Include your family and friends, and if they’re unfit you can run ahead and turn back for them, then go up ahead again. They may moan a bit initially, but soon they’ll be enjoying as much as you are. They may even thank you when the scale reflects  none of the expected holiday weight gain.
  • Bribe yourself. Promise yourself that if you maintain the programme you will reward yourself with a long promised gift like a new pair of New Balance running shoes for example!
  • Do just a little bit. Should you really hit a downer on a particular day, perhaps after a binge the night before, force yourself to go out on a 10 minute run only and then turn back. Chances are that once you’re out there you would want to continue anyway.
  • Eat sensibly. Enjoy holiday eating without resembling Miss Piggy. Holidays tempt us to eat all the wrong things, so settle on a comfortable compromise – eat everything but in moderation. Don’t deprive yourself, but be sensible. Don’t eat if you’re not hungry and don’t stuff yourself to bursting point.
  • Don’t be Penny-wise and Pound-Foolish. Don’t try to cut down expenses by omitting meals; you’ll just overeat on chocolates, take-aways and ice cream. Remember too that a glass of wine spritzed with soda water is a refreshing thirst quencher and far less fattening than a beer!
  • Take delight, don’t worry be happy! Above all, enjoy your holiday, but remember that you owe it to yourself to hold onto your shape and fitness that you’ve worked so hard to attain. Go into your holidays armed with a sensible plan and instead of facing the post-holiday blues you’ll come back fit, lean, tanned and motivated.

Ray Bienedell

Group Operations Director

Run/Walk For Life.