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Healthy Holidays

As the festive season kicks into full swing, we all adopt ‘frantic mode’. Even the most basic principles of looking after oneself take a back seat in favour of shopping, eating out and getting together with colleagues, friends and family for copious amounts of drinking. Even though Christmas is not a traditional holiday here in Vietnam, everyone likes a reason to party and celebrate.

The tendency is to think to hell with healthy living, there’s plenty of time for that in the New Year. However, when the New Year comes, most of us find that it’s just as hectic, simply underpinning the fact that our lives are just too busy. Take time out to make a plan now for the forthcoming festive season and have a look at some of these ideas to help keep you on good form and avoid growing a ‘Santa belly’.


1) Think Positive


If you consider that Xmas is going to be a calorific disaster, then it will be! If however, you think in a positive way and put in place strategies for a healthy Xmas, then there’s a good chance that that’s how it will turn out. What’s more, it won’t make it any less enjoyable; in fact you may just find that you enjoyed it more than the usual two to three weeks of excess.


2) Practice Moderation not Deprivation


Splurge a little at parties but eat sensibly for the rest of the week and ensure you incorporate activity. Choose the parties or events you attend and don’t just go to everything available. It’s a time of year when you can treat yourself. Just don’t go overboard.


3) Choose Alcohol Wisely


Beer and red wine help create appetite-triggering hormones. Instead try to stick to Chardonnay or Riesling as these have been shown to not have the same hunger boosting effect.


4) Drink Green Tea


Drink green tea to minimize the negative effects of alcohol on the body. Green tea is filled with antioxidants and it is well known to combat oxidative stress all over the body. I recommend matcha tea, as it is proven to have 10 times the antioxidant levels of other green teas.


5) Get Enough Sleep


There’s a great quantity of research showing that people who are sleep-deprived are fatter than their well-rested counterparts. Being tired leads people to eat more, particularly foods with more ‘bad’ fat. The biggest problem with sleep deprivation is that it leads to a number of hormonal issues including elevated cortisol, and lower growth hormone, serotonin and melatonin.


6) Stay Active and Do Resistance Training


Take advantage of the cooler morning weather to take an invigorating walk out in the fresh air, join an aerobics class at your local inner city park for fun, or hit the swimming pools and leisure centres. Many people discover that exercise is a great motivator to snack and drink less if they’ve accomplished a fantastic workout earlier. The best type of exercise is intense resistance training as it boosts your metabolism for hours afterwards, makes you body more able to cope with sugar and allows your body to better metabolize extra calories.


Avoid continuous moderate to high intensity aerobic training, as this will raise cortisol levels, oxidative stress, and has no effect on fat burning. Instead, include a sprint session with the resistance workout.


7) Relax and De-stress


This is the time of year to relax and enjoy the people in your life and give thanks for all that you have. Stress plays a very negative role in weight management and health. Stress is one of the key factors associated with ill health and accelerated aging. Take time for yourself: have a massage, read a book, listen to music or play with the kids.


8) Be Safe


Both Saigon and Hanoi can be crazy places. Santa might have a couple of drinks with his cookies but the reindeer are always on the ball. Alcohol and xe om don’t mix — you’re best grabbing a taxi. Just check that the driver hasn’t been drinking and be on your merry way.
Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!


Phil is founder & master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website bodyexpertsystems.com or through Star Fitness (starfitnesssaigon.com)

Phil Kelly

Phil is an avid sportsman and loves most things fitness. With the final realisation that he would not be an All Black, he turned his full focus to studying the human body in regard to improving movement and posture, developing strength, function and performance, as well as scrutinising the conventional wisdom of nutrition for fat loss and performance. He loves challenging the 'norm' and is dedicated to the prosperity and health of his clients and the community. He has a mission to educate and empower people to "be all they can be" by providing accurate, research proven and industry leading information. 

Website: bodyexpertsystems.com

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