Balancing good cheer and good health

Summer is a wonderful season of fun and festivity. A couple of weeks of indulgence doesn’t cause a problem in itself but unfortunately research shows that people who put on weight over the Christmas period often don’t lose it again. They just re-set their “normal” upwards by half to one kilo going forwards. This can translate to five or ten kilos across a decade, to the detriment of future health.

The season of excess is usually a lot wider than the fortnight around Christmas – it can easily stretch from the beginning of December all the way to mid-February. So it’s important to consider your likely lifestyle and plan exercise accordingly.

Summer tends to happen in three phases, starting with the festive frenzy in the first part of December. For many people this is a frantic time of professional deadlines, Christmas functions and kids’ end of year activities. Balancing the triangle of work, family and health is tricky at any time of year but the climate of chaos makes it particularly challenging. Your exercise regime may need slight adaptations for the festive season. Many gym-goers shift to early morning sessions in December to free themselves up for post-work functions. It can help to stack exercise towards the beginning of the week while you’re still feeling fresh-ish. If early mornings aren’t your thing then consider coming to the gym at an off-peak time such as late morning or early afternoon. It’s cooler than the evening and very efficient to zip around the gym quickly. Weekends are another option – and it can be very helpful to get your car parked at the mall before it opens. Then you’re perfectly placed for a quick bit of supermarket or Christmas shopping after your workout. 

The second phase of your summer exercise plan is the post-Christmas holiday period. Les Mills Takapuna is open every day for the stay-cationers. A workout is a great way to start your day before heading off on your sunny adventures. If you’re going away think about the exercise options that will be available to you at your holiday destination. Ask your PT to show you some body weight exercises so you have a toolbox of activities to take with you. A little activity is better than nothing. If you have a complete break from exercise in December it can be very difficult to re-start. It’s much easier to regain momentum from a slower pace than from completely stationary.      

The third phase of your summer exercise plan is New Year’s resolutions. These are traditionally made on the first day of the year but January can be a tricky time to achieve goals. Many people are still out of routine enjoying trips, house guests and school holiday activities. It’s a relaxed social time to recover from the pressure of Christmas and enjoy the sunshine. Lots of relaxed socialising revolves around food and then there are two long weekends – not ideal weight loss conditions. There is no point in setting ambitious goals when you don’t have routines in place to accomplish them. It’s far better to continue at a modest but consistent pace through January and relaunch health and fitness for 2023 when conditions are right. 

This summer make a commitment to setting a realistic target, even if it’s just to maintain your weight over the festive period. Set achievable exercise goals according to the phase you’re in. Adopt a sensible approach to festive food and exercise and then relax about it. Enjoy your health, your family and all your blessings this Christmas.

By: , Claire Bellingham of Les Mills Takapuna.

Issue 136 December-January 2022