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Let’s thrive this holiday season

Get ready to groove: Embrace the spirit with Becky Wright

So it’s official, the season to be jolly has once again rolled around and it’s time to embrace the festive spirit. Dust off your ugly Christmas sweater and get ready to groove below the mistletoe to all your favourite Christmas tunes.

It’s hard not to love the holiday season — the lights, the smells, the music, the gift giving, the gathering of family and friends and all the fun and laughter that comes with it, not to mention the food. But I know this time of year can be exhausting too, you’re busy trying to juggle work and family, preparing for Christmas whilst bouncing from party to party. I keep hearing people talk about “surviving” the holiday season as though it’s some impending apocalyptic catastrophe. This attitude is all a little too bah humbug if you ask me, so I propose a different approach this year, how about we thrive this Christmas, not merely survive.

Striking the balance between healthy enjoyment and excessive indulgence is the key. Let’s face it, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without mince pies and mulled wine. There’s no reason to deny yourself these holiday treats, just enjoy them in moderation. Sounds so simple I know, but our good ol’ friend moderation is hard to master, especially when temptation is lurking all about.

Here are a few of my tips to help you enjoy this Christmas and have you heading into the New Year feeling ready for anything.

Decide in advance

Have a game plan before you hit the party. If you know what type of event it’s going to be, think about the type of food and drink that’s going to be on offer, and make some decisions for yourself before the hors d’oeuvres are passed round or you dive blindly into the buffet table after drinking too much eggnog! This is a great tactic as it usually helps you make healthier choices, plus if you’ve told yourself in advance that it’s okay to have a little Christmas pudding, it removes the guilt factor when you come to eat it, meaning you’ll enjoy it more.

Love your veggies

I always fill my plate with veggies first so there’s less space for more tempting calorie-dense foods. At cocktail parties, I’ll opt for the vegetable crudités or hors d’oeuvres with smoked salmon or shrimp. If you’re hosting dinner, why not try some of these alternatives to save on calories without sacrificing taste?

• Cauliflower mash instead of regular mashed potatoes (or go half and half)

• Steamed green beans with flaked almonds instead of green bean casserole

• Don’t sugar coat your carrots or sweet potatoes, just add cinnamon for flavour

• Choose cuts of white meat over dark

• Replace whipped cream with fat-free Greek yoghurt

• In recipes with eggs, use only half the quantity of whole eggs and the rest whites

• Try apple sauce as an alternative to fat/oil when baking and some stevia in place of sugar.

Sip swap

No one likes a hangover, so your best bet is to stay well hydrated and pace yourself. For every alcoholic drink you consume, have at least one glass of water — your head will thank you for it in the morning! If you find you lose track of how many drinks you’ve had, why not try the bracelet switch trick? Wear a set of bangles and for every alcoholic drink your have, move the bracelet from one arm to the other. I find this a great way to track indulgences.

Jump back on track

So you overindulged. It happens. Put down the turkey leg, stop wallowing in bloated self-pity and get back on the wagon ASAP. One day of a little too much isn’t going to hinder your long-term health and fitness goals as long as you keep it to just that, one day. Remember, building a great physique and maximising your health is an ongoing process, a journey which should be enjoyable and fit in with your lifestyle. Get moving again and pick up with your regular exercise and nutrition routine as soon as possible and no real damage will be done.

Becky Wright is a qualified personal trainer, nutritional therapist and international bikini fitness champion. She has worked with various clients worldwide, including royalty. Becky currently works at Alchemy Fitness: www.alchemy.bm. Contact her at becky@alchemy.bm.