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7 Health Hacks to Keep You Healthy & Sane This Summer

7 Health Hacks to Keep You Healthy & Sane This Summer

The Christmas summer holidays in New Zealand are a time of joy, celebration, and relaxation. But as the season unfolds, it's essential to prioritise your health amid the festivities.

I'm hearing it already - You're drowning in a sea of work pressure, suddenly the kids are on school holidays (how did that happen?) and your exercise routine has been thrown out the window. To add insult to injury, Doris at work has been baking again and is quite sour that you don't want to try her latest creation. Aunt Karen noticed you didn't have a second helping of pavlova at dinner, won't let it go and wants to know if you're 'on a diet'.

Remember... you don't have to answer to anyone.

In this article, we'll delve into a comprehensive set of holiday health hacks, including mindful movement, strategic meal planning, and self-care, to help you not only survive but thrive during this festive season.

So, 7 Health Hacks to Keep You Healthy & Sane This Summer...

1. Move In The Morning

Kickstart your day by moving in the morning before any other stresses, strains, or obligations have a chance to enter your day. Whether it's a walk, run, or a quick workout, incorporating movement into your morning routine sets a positive tone for the day and boosts your energy levels.

Start your day by having a heart-to-heart with your muscles before the holiday chaos ensues. This time is your chance to whisper, "You've got this" to your body before the day throws tinsel at your plans.

It is also a great fat-loss tactic (I learnt from the body-building playbook). Fasted movement in the morning means you'll mostly be burning body fat after you haven't eaten all night. Muscles after they have moved are primed to receive fuel from the food you eat. This means the food you eat is more likely to be soaked up by your hungry muscles rather than stored as body fat. A very crude explanation but you get the jist!

My go-to? A walk up a hill or bike ride, followed by a dip in the lake!

2. Prioritise Protein

Try and always remember VIP (Very Important Protein) on your plate. It's not about building/maintaining muscles; it's about keeping you satisfied and less likely to overeat on other tempting treats. 30% of the calories from protein are burnt through digestion. The Protein Leverage Hypothesis also suggests we will always over eat until our protein requirements are met. So, eating protein first, not only stops you from over eating other food, it has a powerful impact on your hunger and satiety hormones.

This is especially important at breakfast! Getting a good dose of protein (at least 30-40g) like 2-3 Eggs and plenty of bacon or salmon for breakfast will seriously prevent overeating later in the day.

"One study in women showed that increasing protein intake from 15 to 30% of total calories helped them eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds (5 kg) in just 12 weeks (Reference)."

To quote the study again - it reduced spontaneous calorie consumption considerably. Quite the win in the holiday period! If you're going out or to friends for dinner, take some delicious ingredients to add to their platter.

3. Move Before and After Meals

Before indulging in a hearty meal, plan a walk before or after (or both!). This not only enhances digestion but also significantly reduces the blood glucose response to the meal. By engaging your muscles, you help soak up glucose, promoting better blood sugar control.

"Walking after eating helps stabilise blood sugar since muscles can take up glucose from the bloodstream during contraction." according to the Levels (continuous blood sugar monitor app)

I love this hack because it's so easy, also gives you a mental break or chance to catch up with a friend/family member AND you seriously feel the difference. You know that feeling of sitting and just getting more and more stuffed? Yup. It doesn't have to happen.

4. Mindful Eating Strategies

Eat your food in the right order to optimise your body's response. Start with something like the French like crisp crudités for a satisfying crunch and then.... prioritise protein, setting the stage for a balanced meal. Consuming carbohydrates or dessert afterwards will then have a less pronounced impact on your blood glucose, reducing inflammation.

Once the protein has taken its bow, you can bring in the supporting characters – carbohydrates and desserts. Consuming these after the protein helps modulate the post-meal rise in blood glucose. The presence of protein can slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, preventing a rapid spike in blood sugar levels and reducing the potential for inflammation. Good eh?

And, ask yourself what you tomorrow would want you today to choose. It's a powerful lens for decision-making.

5. Take Time Out for Yourself (it's not selfish)

Family arguments... snapping when you shouldn't. Christmas can be a real pressure cooker. We often snap when we are holding resentment around a situation.

Amid the hustle and bustle, it's crucial to carve out moments of solitude for yourself. To show up as your best self for friends and family, taking time out for relaxation, whether it's reading, meditating, or simply enjoying a quiet moment, is crucial.

Remember, self-care is not selfish; it's a necessary ingredient for a joyful holiday season.

If you are feeling like things are about to boil over, take a cold shower or go and get in the lake. When you expose your body to cold water, it's perceived as a stressor, prompting the release of endorphins as a natural response to cope with the stress. The cold plunge essentially puts your body into a "fight or flight" mode, activating the sympathetic nervous system. This activation triggers the release of endorphins, which can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and induce mild euphoria. The sensation of cold also acts as a form of stress, prompting the body to release endorphins to manage the perceived threat.

Additionally, the shock of cold water can stimulate the release of noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. This release may have a mood-enhancing effect and contribute to increased alertness and focus.

6. Set Boundaries and Be True to Yourself

To enjoy the holidays on your terms, set clear boundaries. Be honest about your preferences and confidently communicate them to friends and family. While the pressure to conform to traditional expectations may be high, prioritise your well-being and enjoy Christmas in a way that aligns with your desires, not others' expectations.

Yep, Aunt Karen might ask why you aren't having second helpings of pavlova. If you've started a health journey and you look or behave differently from how you used to friends and family might feel uncomfortable. This is just because of the change. Change is uncomfortable for many, especially if it's a change they wish they had made for themselves. If anyone applies pressure, smile and tell them you're OK. Thank you.

7. Personal Enjoyment Over External Pressure

Amidst the festive cheer, it's easy to succumb to external pressures regarding food, drink, and activities. Resist the temptation to conform to expectations that don't align with your well-being goals. Enjoy the season in a way that brings you joy and fulfilment, whether it's trying new activities, savouring unique foods, or simply relishing quiet moments with loved ones.

Remember, at the end of the day, the only one putting food in your mouth is you. The only one choosing whether to get off the couch or not is you. Before blaming others, ensure you're open to taking personal responsibility for every bit of meal and movement.

Make it a goodie! Cheers to the holidays everyone

This holiday season, empower yourself with these health hacks to not only navigate but embrace the Christmas summer break in New Zealand.

From morning movement routines to strategic exercise, mindful eating, self-care, and setting personal boundaries, these practices will ensure you thrive physically and mentally.

Remember, the key to a fulfilling holiday is enjoying it in a way that resonates with you.

Cheers to a season of well-being, joy, and creating lasting memories on your own terms!

Reckon you need more help?

If you're struggling with putting boundaries in place or knowing where to begin with healthy protein options...or even how to squeeze a walk into your day! Our Body Reset Transformation Programme could be the answer you are looking for.

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