Category Archives: General

How to maintain motivation over the holiday season

 

Struggling to stay on top of your exercise regime because you’re simply not motivated enough? Here are three ways to maintain it.

The key is to tone down rather than completely halt your exercise regimen, but maintaining motivation during times of temptation generally comes down to how you think about your training. If heading for the bench press doesn’t excite you, you’ll likely forego exercise for the call of cosmos.

Follow the experts’ top tips for maintaining motivation:

» Look on the bright side: “The relationship you have with exercise will depend on how you prioritise it and whether toning down your training will have positive effects or not. If you view exercise as punishment or to purely burn calories rather than seeing it for its mental and physical health benefits, then you’re less likely to enjoy it and remain consistent. When you value and enjoy exercise – you prioritise it,” says Brooke Turner.

» Develop an exercise routine before summer hits so motivation isn’t an issue next season: “The development of positive habits and routines is important for mental wellbeing, with a holistic and flexible approach. Ideally, a good exercise routine should be sustainable and easily modified and adapted to take life changes into account, and having a number of different activities you participate in can help,” says clinical psychologist Dr Yuliya Richard.

» Modify your routine: King suggests experimenting with outdoor activities during this time that take advantage of summer’s social theme and heat. Think learning to surf or a game of beach volleyball with friends. Try mixing up such activities with bootcamps, walking, swimming, running, yoga, Pilates and gym sessions; this way you have options depending on the season and weather moving into the new year.

 

Strength building core finisher workout

 

A strong core will support everything else you do, but when most people think of core they only think of abs. Head trainer Alexa Towersey and Jenna Douros show us how to build up your core. 

 

 

 

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The core includes all of the abs (deep and superficial) in addition to the muscles of the hips and lower back. These four exercises are designed to target as much of the core as possible. When combined with the flexion, extension and rotation exercises in the DB Complex and HIIT workout, you have a very comprehensive workout plan. Where possible, think of squeezing the inner thighs together and drawing the pelvic floor in and up (think holding your pee mid-flow) – this is the most surefire way to activate the midline and the ‘lazier’ lower and deep transverse abdominals. We don’t just want a washboard stomach on the outside, we want a corset on the inside. You can do the exercises in any order but I like to start with the lower abs (reverse crunches) and finish with a neutral spine (reinforcing correct posture for the day).

Reps: 20 of each

Progression:

Week 1: 1 set | Week 2: 2 sets

Week 3: 3 sets | Week 4: 4 sets

 

Reverse Crunch x 20

core-finisher-crunch.jpg

 

Lying on your back, lift your legs in the air with your knees slightly bent. Place your hands on the floor beside you. Without momentum, use your lower abs to slowly curl the hips off the floor as if you want to touch your toes to the ceiling. Slowly lower them back to the starting position. This is one rep.


 

Knee Hugs x 20

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Sit down on the mat with your knees bent, your hands hugging your knees and lift your feet off the floor. Open your arms, extend your legs as long and as low as possible without arching your back. Lift your torso, bend your knees, and return to the starting position.

 


 

Window Wipers x 12

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Lie on your back and raise your legs 90 degrees. Spread your arms straight out to your sides for support. Rotate your legs to one side, stopping short of touching the floor. Rotate to the other side. Try and reach the top hip on the rotation while keeping the opposite shoulder on the ground to make sure you’re not only working the abs but getting a great stretch through the upper (thoracic spine). As you improve, bring your arms closer in to your body so they offer less stability.

 


 

Plank-Ups x 12

 

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The goal is to maintain a solid plank position throughout the whole exercise and to not let your hips sway. Start on your elbows and toes. Keep your hips as still as possible, push up with one hand, then the other, until you are propped up in a push-up position. Lower back down to your elbows one arm at a time. Halfway through, change your leading arm so you strengthen the other shoulder as you press up to your hands. Note: hand placement should be where your elbows were – don’t cheat the movement by just trying to straighten your arm.

 

Models/Trainers: Alexa Towersey (@actionalexa) &
Jenna Douros (@jennalouise_jl)

Photographer: Jason Lee // @jasonminilee

Wearing: Douros – P.E. Nation // Towersey – Heroine Sport
(shoes by Athletic Propulsion Labs) via Stylerunner

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Superfood strawberry protein milkshake recipe

 

Alleviate the brain fog and keep your mood in check with this protein smoothie.

Ingredients (makes one smoothie)

  • 1 cup coconut, soy or almond milk
  • 1 scoop Activated Nutrients Vanilla Bean Daily Protein
  • 1 teaspoon Activated Nutrients Daily Superfood powder
  • Approximately 7 frozen, sliced strawberries

 

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender

2. Blend until smooth

3. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

 

NUTRITION (per smoothie)

Protein: 19g // Fat: 5g //

Carbs: 16g // Calories: 213g

 

 

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Jenna Douros’ HIIT workout sampler

 

Designed to get your heart rate high and burn max calories this HIIT circuit by Jenna Douros will also help you improve your muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

 

 

 

 

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It requires only your body weight, so you can perform the workout literally anywhere. Complete all exercises back-to-back, as quickly as possible, with only transition time as rest. At the end of the round, rest for 30 to 90 seconds. Complete 2 to 5 rounds.

Kick-sits x 20

 

 

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Start in a bear position, hands directly under shoulders and elbows/knees hovering approximately an inch off the ground, under hips. Keep both hands planted on the ground while you thread one leg though to the opposite side until your hip taps the ground. Bring your leg back through the same way and repeat on the opposite side.

Plyo Push-tucks x 10

jenna-plyopushups.jpg

 

Start by lying on your belly with your hands flat on the floor, tucked just under your shoulders. From this position you want to push your body up into a raised plank position while simultaneously tucking both knees towards your underarms. Return the same way and repeat for a total of 10 reps.

In and Outs in Squat Position on Toes x 20

 

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Start in a squat position. Now raise up onto your toes before jumping both feet out wide and back in again. That’s 1 rep.

Wall Walks x 8

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Start by lying on your belly with your feet touching a wall and hands above your head. From this position, reverse/push your body up the wall, walking your hands all the way in so that your chest meets the wall. Return the same way and repeat for a total of 8 reps. You ould regress this exercise to reverse burpees, where you just place your hands on the ground as if for a regular burpee and jump your feet up the wall.

Travelling Mountain Climbers x 10 each direction

 

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Just like your standard mountain climber; the difference being you will move left for 10 reps and right for 10 reps.

 

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Keeping fit with Alexandra Kierdorf-Robinson

 

We caught up with December 2017 cover model Alexandra Kiedorf-Robinson to chat about all things health, fitness, passion and purpose.

 

Alex Kierdorf-Robinson has had a far from easy life. With parents suffering from addiction in her home country of Sweden, she had to grow up early – and fast. But rather than weakening her resolve, Kierforf-Robinson used these challenges to her advantage, and is now a Swedish-qualified physiotherapist, group fitness instructor and personal trainer for her own business, 360Health. She spoke to WH&F about fostering a positive attitude in the face of adversity, finding love, and working to create a healthy and fit lifestyle.

 

ON CAREER

I have always loved sports and training. It began with my passion for figure skating as a child, followed by soccer in high school and then I joined the gym for the first time when I was 17. I remember walking into my first group fitness class and thinking that one day I’d like to be an instructor on stage. It looked like so much fun to teach, motivate and train with a room full of people.

After school, I did a bit of travelling and working before finally deciding to study physiotherapy in Gothenburg, Sweden. I had always been fascinated by the human body and movement; by its musculoskeletal and physiological systems. It was during my years at university that I started my career as a group fitness instructor. I started out teaching old-school freestyle aerobics and step, but have since moved more toward Les Mills pre-choreographed classes such as Bodypump, RPM and Bodybalance. I also teach yoga, which I absolutely love!

ON FINDING LOVE

It was during a study abroad in 2006 that I met my now husband, Mark (@healthmanmark). We did long distance for three years while I completed my physiotherapy degree before I finally made the move to the Gold Coast, Australia. These days I work as a personal trainer for our own business, 360Health, that Mark runs with business partner Rob Quatro. I train people of all ages and fitness levels, and enjoy helping clients rehabilitate and prevent injuries. I also train clients preparing for bodybuilding competitions, as well as providing online coaching services.

ON PASSION & PURPOSE

My aim and goal in any field – whether it be during PT, in the cycle studio or in a yoga class – is always to promote the benefits of physical exercise. In a society with so many lifestyle-related metabolic conditions, and abundant healthcare and medicines to aid almost any condition, using exercise to promote health is sometimes forgotten. I want to spread the knowledge that training can help treat and prevent a whole range of ailments.

I love what I do because I get to see so many lives completely transformed in this industry. And I’m not just talking about the physical transformations (which of course are rewarding) but the changes to a person’s quality of life: improved confidence and motivation, better energy levels, and a better social and family life too.

ON AN AVERAGE DAY

I get up early – usually by 4.30am. I train clients or take a class or two until about lunch. Most afternoons I teach group fitness as well.

ON ‘SUMMER BODIES’

I think it’s great that people want to get fit for summer. It’s a great time to start a new fitness regime given you will likely have more energy thanks to the light and warmth outside. However, I always try to promote staying fit and training year-round. Making your healthy nutrition and training part of your routine 365 days a year will ensure it feels natural and you will never have to struggle making drastic changes to your physique because of one season.

Make the commitment. Set pen to paper and write down your plan of attack. Set progress goals and when you want to achieve them by. Make sure you stick to the plan and keep yourself accountable – either by hiring yourself a PT or coach, or telling your friends and family what you hope to achieve.

ON PERSONALITY

I’d describe my personality as happy and positive. I try my best to support and inspire friends, family and people around me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, but I am learning that I also need rest and time to look after my body and mind.

My childhood was a tough one. I had  loving parents, but both suffered from addiction –  so I had quite a chaotic life growing up and I pretty much looked after myself from a very young age. I lost my mother when I was 18 and my father has since passed as well. I like to think these life experiences have made me persistent, strong and determined in life rather than weakened me.

ON MY FAVOURITE EXERCISE

It would have to be teaching a crazy, tough RPM class! But I also love participating in group fitness and hot yoga classes.

ON MY FAVOURITE ‘TREAT’ MEAL

A big bowl of pasta, I love it! And for a sweet treat anything including chocolate, lollies and ice-cream works!

ON MY ROLE MODEL

I think Roger Federer is an absolute legend! He is so much more than the greatest of all time (GOAT) on the court, but also a humble, intelligent, kind man with absolute integrity.

ON GOALS

Short term, I am looking forward to getting back into a full training load. I have been dealing with an injury in my elbow for about six months now and it is continuously getting better with rest and very specific rehab training, but I can’t wait to lift some heavy weights again.

Long term, I would like to become a person who inspires health and physical activity nationally and globally, through face-to-face meetings, coaching and group fitness. Becoming a master trainer for group fitness instructors has always been a dream.

 

Model: Alexandra Kierdorf-Robinson // swedishalex.com // @swedishalex

Photographer: Jessica Apap // jessicaapap.com // @jessicaapap_photographer

HMU: Cynthia Smyth // cynthiasmythmakeup.com.au // @cynthiasmyth_makeup

 

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The real reason why you may binge on food

 

 

If sometimes is becoming often, here are some of the reasons why you may be eating too much – and what to do about it.

 

Problem: Unbalanced macros

New research found our drive for protein is so powerful we overeat in our pursuit to consume more of it. A University of Sydney study published in Cell Metabolism reveals calorie intake increases as protein intake decreases.

Solution: The researchers recommend that high-quality protein – low in fat and high in good-quality complex carbohydrates – comprises 15 to 20 per cent of your daily calorie intake. Chow down on lean meats, legumes, fish, eggs and tofu.

Problem: Disconnection

Whether it’s the portion sizes at your local, a bout of intense work stress or mindless nibbling in front of the telly, there’s a whole gamut of reasons why we eat more than what we need or when we’re not hungry at all.

Solution: Try to eat intuitively – only when you’re hungry. Focus on eating when you feel hungry and stopping when you feel full.

Problem: Overwhelm

It turns out the expression ‘feast your eyes’ is accurate. Research suggests that when we can choose from a wide variety of foods – say, at Christmas lunch or a hotel buffet breakfast – we eat more. Called the ‘smorgasbord effect’, new flavours are thought to stimulate renewed eating, whereas we quickly grow bored of a single flavour and stop eating sooner.

Solution: Limit yourself to a few choices rather than sampling a little of everything to keep the smorgasbord effect in check.

 

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Tiffiny Hall’s ‘Glow Bowl’ recipe

 

Tuck into this delicious glow bowl filled with healthy goodness by trainer Tiffiny Hall.

Ingredients (Serves 2  // Prep: 10 min // Cook: 10 min)


  • ¼ cup mixed quinoa
  • ½ fennel, shaved
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 8 walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs, boiled, peeled and cut into quarters, to serve
  • ½ bunch mint, leaves picked
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp water

 

 

 

Method

1. To cook the quinoa, bring 3/4 cup of water to the boil, add the rinsed quinoa and simmer for 10–12 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked.  Drain and spread on a plate to cool slightly.

2. To make the dressing place mint, lemon juice, yoghurt and water in a blender, blend until smooth.

3. Arrange ingredients into 2 bowls, drizzle with dressing and add boiled eggs to serve.

 

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A dietitian’s advice on flexible dieting

 

While flexible dieting has become a buzz word du jour, but what does flexible dieting mean when it comes to macros and calories? We asked accredited practising dietitian and founder of Bites for Health for her expert insight. 

 

Macros v calories

Counting macronutrients rather than calories can ensure a more balanced overall diet; however, counting anything around food can be exhausting. The value of attending to macronutrients is to ensure that each meal contains a balance of protein, carbs and fats, which contributes to satiety – and pleasure of eating.

What are the basic rules for setting a goal-appropriate macro ratio?

This needs to be assessed by a sports dietitian or other specialist as the commonly professed means to calculate energy output with the aim of balancing energy in and out is unreliable. The total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) – based on basal metabolic rate multipled by a factor related to activity level – is almost always an estimate. Unless you have paid to get your actual energy expenditure measured, it’s not reliable.

What’s a general guide for balancing macros?

The human body is such a diverse thing – we are all different. Because of that there is no ‘perfect diet’ that fits everyone. The 40/40/20 espoused by many nutrition professionals ignores this. Certain people will feel tired having only 40 per cent of their diet from carbs, for example, and others will feel tired if they have more than 25 per cent of their diet from carbs. It’s about finding what feels good for your individual body.

Is ‘flexible dieting’ such as ‘If it fits your macros’ (IIFYM) as liberated as it sounds?

I think the theory that counting macros is flexible eating is a bit ridiculous. Flexible eating implies not having to follow rules around food, and not having to calculate or fiddle around with specific numbers. Focusing on having foods that nourish you, satisfy you and give you pleasure, without the numbers and the rules, is a real example of flexible eating.

However, there are some people who count their macros and have a very balanced, enjoyable lifestyle – and this works well for them. In my view, for its amount of effort, it’s probably not worth it.

Doesn’t counting macros circumvent the tyranny of food protocols?

This is a tough one. I agree with the concept of moral neutrality – no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. However, the message that you can eat what you want if it fits your macros doesn’t emphasise eating nourishing foods for good health. There is a big difference between eating whatever you like and eating well.

What are the drawbacks of selecting foods by macro count?

You could have a day’s eating that fits your macros but comprises energy-dense, high-GI foods that would likely not keep you full for very long, making you starving later in the day. Ironically, it can lead to a nutrient-poor diet. Counting macros can be very counterproductive for people who are chronic dieters or who have an unhealthy relationship with food. Many people have been on numerous diets, and macro counting is just the next one. These people are generally advised to see a dietitian or therapist specialising in the non-diet approach.

If not macros, what approach do you advocate for weight loss?

Focusing on having balanced meals is not only easier, but often more enjoyable. We have no evidence that calorie-, energy- or macronutrient-controlled diets work long term for weight loss and know that it is much better to focus on having a nourishing diet that fuels your body with good food. A diet high in fibre is recommended to assist with overall health and is known to help stabilise blood sugars, assist in lowering cholesterol and help prevent certain types of cancers.

 

 

 

 

A day in the life of Laura Henshaw

 

We caught up with model, law student and entrepreneur and January 2018 cover model Laura Henshaw to talk about a typical day in her shoes. 

EAT

6:30am: wake up and have an espresso. I can’t stomach food before training.

8am (breakfast): protein-packed smoothie bowl or two whole eggs with ½ an avocado, spinach and smoked salmon. I always ensure I refuel my body with a high-protein-packed meal after training.

12pm (lunch): tuna or chicken salad with loads of greens, crunchy seeds and avo. I dress my salad with olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

3pm (snack): I always crave something sweet at this time, so I will have a homemade KIC smoothie ball or a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit or some berries.

6:30pm (dinner): this is different every night, but usually I have heaps of vegies with either salmon, chicken or beef. I am loving baked salmon at the moment with a roasted Brussel sprout salad and some roasted sweet potato. The dinner recipes on KIC are a combination of my favourite dishes plus a whole heap of crowd pleasers.

8pm (after dinner): I always crave something sweet after dinner. I will have Greek yoghurt and berries, homemade banana ice-cream (just blend frozen bananas), or dark choc and a peppermint tea to aid with my digestion.

 

MOVE

I am loving the training combination I have at the moment; I always change it up so I don’t get bored or plateau. My training every week is a combination of HIIT, boxing, strength and running. I do boxing one or two times per week, HIIT twice a week and run about three or four times per week. I always make sure I have one rest day to let my body recover.

THRIVE

I don’t have many days that are the same, but I always get up between 6 and 7am and get my workout done early. I get back from the gym and have breakfast, and then if it is a quiet day I’ll head to my office to catch up on emails. If I’m busy, I’m usually between shoots and meetings. Or sometimes I do all three! It really depends on the day. I also always ensure I switch off (or try as hard as I can to by 8pm) so I can spend quality time with my partner, Dalton.

BE

I relax by running and switching off from social media for a few hours, or even a full day if I need it.

 

Model: Laura Henshaw // kicgirls.com // @laura.henshaw // @keepitcleaner
Photographer: Ren Pidgeon // @renpidgeon
HMU: Monica Gingold // @monicagingold_beauty

 

 

Grab the January 2018 edition of Women’s Health and Fitness for her full cover model story!

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Your Christmas Day feasting game plan

 

Prep yourself this Christmas with our extensive game plan that will see you enjoying the festivities without the guilt. Stephanie Osfield writes.

 

Christmas dinner is one of the biggest culinary deals of the year. If you only had to navigate that one day, things would be sweet – but it’s the drinks and parties and picnics and BBQs throughout the festive season that can bite. This means you’re out of your usual routine and not always cooking. You don’t want to look like you’re being all bah-humbug and not getting into the Christmas spirit, so you’ll be eating festive food. But you also don’t want to spend each event battling recriminations because you had too many chocolates.

Overthinking it? Absolutely not. Recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that in Germany, Japan and the US, holiday celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Golden Week do lead to weight gain. But the biggest kilos spike across the board occurred in the 10 days after Christmas. During this time, Germans gained an average 0.8 kilograms, Americans 0.6 kg and Japanese participants an average of 0.5 kg. And although most of those study participants shed roughly half of that weight, some of it remained. Consider the cumulative impact over time (the term ‘kilo creep’ persists for a reason).

If you’re torn between sanctioned excess and an ascetic festive season with BYO almonds, follow our experts’ plan to have your Christmas cake and eat it.

1. All Or Nothing Thinking

 

You Think: ‘I just broke my eating rules – I might as well eat whatever I want for the rest of the night.’

The Fallout:

“All or nothing thinking is a worrying cognitive distortion that contributes to overeating,” says Sarah McMahon, psychologist and body image expert at Sydney’s BodyMatters Australasia. “It can lead you to eat far more than you would have done if you had just given yourself permission to have a little of what you like.”

Your Christmas Comeback:

» Be compassionate towards yourself: “The fact is that most of us will eat more ‘sometimes’ and ‘occasional’ food at Christmas time,” says McMahon. “The best thing to do is to allow yourself this pleasure, enjoy the food and trust that you and your body can handle it.”

» Eat mindfully: “When you slow down to savour each mouthful of food, you not only enjoy it more, your body and mind connect, so you start to notice when you are full,” says McMahon.

» View treats as a temporary detour: Yes, last night you had garlic bread and canapés. And today? You’re back on your usual track, eating three healthy meals and healthy snacks.

» Plate up your snacks: Even at parties where you can bring a food contribution like sushi and paper plates to serve it on. “This helps you to see how much you are eating so it is easier to realise when you’ve had enough,” says dietitian and nutritionist Rebecca Gawthorne.

» Serve your leftovers to go: If you’ve had friends over for dinner and know you won’t be able to resist the rest of the cheesecake or lasagna, serve it into take-away containers and send your guests home with the leftovers.

 


 

2. Nostalgia

You Think: ‘I love fruit pudding, mince pies, White Christmas and the turkey stuffing – they all remind me of when I was a child and how easy and uncomplicated life was.’

The Fallout:

“Christmas foods typically have many layers of emotion attached to them,” says McMahon. “Firstly, some of the foods on offer, such as crackling or Christmas pudding, are things you only eat once a year. This in itself can make the food more desirable.

“Often we feel comfort and nostalgia in relation to Christmas food. Unfortunately this can lead us to keep eating more and more to fill an emotional void with food, when in reality, eating that is driven by emotions and not hunger is rarely satiating.”

Your Christmas Comeback:

» Reality check: “Ask yourself  ‘Am I hungry?’ and, in particular, ‘What am I hungry for?’”  suggests McMahon. “If you know that what you really crave is closeness or connection, honour those feelings and respond to them. Talk to your partner or a trusted sibling about your feelings or write them down. Satisfy those emotions but don’t feed them. Ask someone for a hug or do something nostalgic – look through old photos, or maybe write a journal about your feelings.”

» Give old favourite foods a health spin: For example, if you associate Christmas with fizzy drinks, buy some mineral water and add a dash of a colourful juice like grape juice. Or if Christmas chocolate was your favourite thing, still have a little, but make it a handmade dark chocolate so that it looks amazing (and has health benefits for your heart), and only eat two.

» Channel your inner child: Engage in some games you used to play as a child rather than hoeing into the food. Try board games such as Scrabble and Monopoly, or charades, or picnic games like tag and stuck in the mud.

 


 

 

 

 

3. Using Food To Self-Pamper

You Think: ‘I’ve had a really difficult year and I deserve to give myself this reward of lashings of yummy food and wine.’

The Fallout:

“Using food as the ultimate holiday treat puts food on a pedestal, as though it can magically fix everything that’s not working in your life and make you feel better,” says McMahon. Fast-forward a few hours after the chocolates and chips or second serving of dessert and you will still be carrying the same emotional baggage. But now you’ll have some food guilt to add to it.

Your Christmas Comeback:

» Take just a few bites: Serve yourself a little of the foods you wouldn’t normally indulge in but just take a few bites to satisfy you and don’t eat the rest. Or enjoy just a small sliver of dessert. Research from Cornell University shows that people who eat small serves of treat foods feel just as satisfied 15 minutes later as those who ate far bigger portions. Another study at Stanford University has found that people who ate only three salty crackers were more satisfied than those who ate 15 crackers.

» Seek non-food rewards: Treat yourself to a few great books for Christmas and daily indulgences over the holidays such as enjoying breakfast al fresco or going for a sunset walk with all the family. “Remind yourself that the major perks of Christmas are not the meals but spending time with family and friends and enjoying a break from work,” says McMahon.

» Avoid second serves: Instead, have a tall glass of water or a nice hot cup of tea. If that doesn’t work and you still feel hungry, go back to have a second serve of salad and vegetables.

 

 


 

 

4. Suffering Clean Eating Fatigue

You Think: ‘I’m tired of being good. I’m going to feast all through the holidays and work it off at the gym later.’

The Fallout:

“Gorging yourself during the holidays and thrashing yourself at the gym later is a dangerous trap that perpetuates an unhealthy and disconnected relationship between food and your body,” says McMahon. “A feast and famine kind of approach is not helpful to maintaining a healthy weight.” Losing weight is also a trickier prospect than many people realise so you may find that your holiday weight does not all come off, even if you’re working out hard and eating clean.

Christmas Comeback:

» Stick to your usual eating pattern: “If you’re eating out, choose the grilled fish and vegies instead of the creamy pasta,” says Gawthorne. Meanwhile, skip foods you would never normally have, such as soft drinks, bread rolls at dinner, gravy and sour cream on your potatoes.”

Eating at a friend’s house? Offer to bring a huge salad so that you can serve a big plate of that and eat less of the more kilojoule-laden healthy fare.

» Work out as usual: Abandoning your exercise routine at the very time of year that you normally eat more doesn’t make any sense. “Exercise makes every cell more sensitive to insulin, so glucose enters your cells more easily,” says Christine Armarego, exercise physiologist from Sydney’s Glucose Club. “This means your pancreas doesn’t need to send out as much insulin to manage your blood glucose levels.” In turn this helps to reduce weight gain over the festive season.

» Remember – this effect is dose-dependent. “Twenty-four hours after you work out, your insulin sensitivity peaks,” Armarego explains. “Within 48 hours it has returned to what it was. That’s why daily exercise is best to keep insulin sensitivity at its highest. If you can’t manage that, try not to let more than 48 hours pass between exercise sessions.”

By contrast, if you’re a couch potato all holidays, “Higher glucose levels and insulin can lead to increased fatigue and make it harder for your body to access fats stores to burn for energy,” Armarego says.

So keep up some kind of exercise all through Christmas. And if at all possible, exercise on Christmas day – either by engaging in a workout after the present opening, or by enjoying a long family walk over lunch.

 


 

 

 

5. Starving to Save Up Kilojoules

You Think: ‘I purposely haven’t eaten a thing all day so that I can let my hair down at Christmas lunch.’

The Fallout:

“This is a classic Christmas mistake,” says Gawthorne. “You are likely to be so ravenous that you serve a huge portion and then go back for seconds, which could cause a huge kilojoule blowout.”

Christmas Comeback:

» Eat three meals: Have a simple breakfast of eggs and rye toast and eat a salad for lunch. This will ensure you’re not starving with hunger and supersize your helpings at Christmas functions and then regret it the next day.

» Go for vegies first: “Serve a stack of salad and vegetables (at least half your plate) first then serve the other foods,” Gawthorne suggests. “The more vegies you eat, the more nutrients and fibre you enjoy and the less likely you will be to overindulge in other foods. It will also help portion control the other high-kilojoule foods because you will only have a little room for them on your plate.”

» Choose a smaller plate: Put a larger plate underneath it so it has the illusion of looking even bigger. When you serve your meal, you will feel that you are eating a huge feast even though you are not overdoing your intake of kilojoules.

» Pick three favourites: Rather than go for everything from the roast potatoes and gravy to the crackling, pick three favourite high-kilojoule foods to really savour in small portions. Then fill the rest of your plate with super-healthy salads and vegetables.

 

 


 

 

6. Using Alcohol to Unwind

You Think: ‘That champagne is really giving me a nice buzz after weeks of stress. I’m going to help myself relax by having a few more.’

The Fallout:

Because it’s a drink, we often completely ignore that alcohol can pack a powerful kilojoule punch. “Beer, wine, spirits and cocktails are all high in calories and devoid of any good nutrition, so there is no nutritional benefit gained from consuming them,” says Gawthorne.

“While I don’t think there is too much of an issue with consuming small, safe amounts of one to two standard drinks of alcohol on social occasions, it’s important not to look at Christmas and New Year’s as an excuse to drink to excess. This will lead to weight gain and could cause potential health issues (such as hangovers and stomach irritation).”

Remember, alcohol often comes alongside foods like salty nuts and chips that may be harder to resist once we’ve had a few. “And if you’re feeling worse for wear the next day, you may also indulge in a big fatty breakfast,” Gawthorne adds.

Christmas Comeback:

» Make a trade-off: Decide how you are going to spend your kilojoules before each function. “If you want to indulge, for example, in a slice of your favourite Christmas cake after dinner, then you won’t want to be drinking lots of alcohol,” Gawthorne says. “Or if you want to enjoy a few alcoholic drinks, then you might need to forgo the dessert or avoid the high-kilojoule cheeses after dinner.”

» De-stress without alcohol: Not only is the lead-up to Christmas rushed and stressed for many people, but being with family is often super stressful too. So take time to stop and recharge your batteries. That may mean you engage in daily meditation, a morning swim or time out to read a book from cover to cover. The less stressed you are and the more enjoyable your Christmas holiday, the less likely you are to use food as a Christmas feelgood crutch.

 

NEXT: Beat the Christmas snacking blowout with these top tips. 

 

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