How to Hold On to Holiday Health

by Sarah Parr

The Christmas and new year period brings merriment, revelry and fresh resolutions but also can bring with it more challenges to our fitness regimes.

With many of us out of town, travelling or vacationing, it seem more difficult to find time for workouts without spurring on of our usual routines. let's not forget the added challenge of balancing the onslaught of parties and BBQ's that the summer months bring!

So how do we cope with these lifestyle disruptions and come thru the festive period without extra kg's?

Well I decided to get the low down from someone who knows plenty about fitness, challenges and travelling- Personal trainer at Cityfitness Napier, Brett Mudgeway.

Sarah and Brett

Brett's just fresh back from his second Ironman, where he fully completed a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run, losing five kilos of fuid in a staggering 50 degree celcius temperature! He competed with some of the world's best triathletes and at a surprising 57 years old, truly shows us what the human body is capable of,- provided we don't pre-set mental limitations on it.

Having achieved such a difficult goal that clearly demonstrates an iron will, who better to ask for some tips on maintaining “willpower” over the silly season?


So Brett, what advice would you give a client who wants to go into the new year minimising detriment?

Brett: Keep it simple and don't beat yourself up if you have a few splurges. Having more time on your hands can lead to boredom and an increased calorie intake via the wrong foods and alcohol. Minimise the damage by grazing on the right stuff in small amounts during the day and stay active in between meals.

The evening seems to be the killer, too much fat on the barby and too much alcohol. However an advantage of having more time is being able to organize healthy options for yourself and the family. Eating healthy requires being organized and having more time during the holidays allows us to do this.

Discipline is also the key, many people today are just too soft mentally. Healthy eating is not rocket science, people make it so complicated. We know what crap food is and we don't need trainers or nutritionists to tell us this, so if it's crap, don't eat it. A good trick I tell my clients to use when they are tempted to eat the wrong thing is to stop first and ask the question, " Will eating this put me closer to my goals or make them harder to achieve?".........keep it simple.

How would you advise a client on developing an unshakeable mindset towards the catering table?

Brett: Once again keep it simple. Drink plenty of water BEFORE the meal and if you must fill the plate up, make sure at least three quarters of it is leafy greens, vegetables, with lots of colour, etc, ie; high fibre and plenty of it. If you are considering a second helping wait at least 20 mins before getting up again.

What would you suggest is the best exercise/s for maximum calorie burning if we say aye in favour of trifle?

Brett: Compound exercises, ie; multiple muscle groups such as Burpees (don't ya just hate em?)squat presses, squat rows, swiss ball presses, etc, do them in circuit formation and forget about the small muscle groups if you want generate a metabolic effect, intensity is also key.


How does one avoid falling into the trap of a 'holiday' mindset and maintain commitment to their exercise regime?

Brett: Now this is tough, I have particular trouble motivating myself when I am in holiday mode. If you are an early riser I make a point of getting up while the family is still asleep and getting out on the road or beach. I do not push too hard and give myself a minimum goal, ie; 45 mins,or longer if I feel good but at low intensity then if I feel good I will push harder once I'm into it, I think the key is no pressure, just pat yourself on the back for doing it.


Do you have any mantras or sayings/philospohies that have helped you to 'push thru' during training or competing?

Brett: When times have been really tough and I'm having a really tough day during a big event, I sometimes have to ask myself, ("how badly do you want this"?) 

Any final pearls of wisdom you'd care to share with us?

Brett: Not everyone enjoys exercising but everyone knows the benefits. To those people who struggle with it just think of it by breaking it down into hours per week, 4 sessions a week equals 4 hours per week. Keep it varied, cardio, weights, group exercise, get outside, walk on the beach, bike the fantastic pathways, try the steps on the hill occasionally. Don't set your goals too high and to help with motivation, give yourself a non negotiable minimum per week, ie; 3 hours of activity per week....................your body will love you for it!!!!!

I agree with Brett on making a 'minimum commitment' to yourself. The odd week off here or there during the year can actually benefit the highly dedicated fitness enthusiast, but if you're only a weekend warrior you'll likely need to increase your output to balance the increase of calories while celebrating.

Decide how many workouts you can do per week and stick to it 2-3 x per week is needed at least for maintenance and make sure you include a good amount of heart-pumping cardio to burn off extra calories.

Admittedly, not many of us have the stamina of an elite athlete as Brett does, but if you can't make it into the gym, a swim or whatever it is you usually do, this doesn't give you a justifiable reason to stop althogether! Consider thinking outside your usual range and do some activity; an unskilled game of squash or a good long walk is at least- you're bound to thank yourself next year!

Sarah Parr
December 2012



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