Red Bull ambassador Courtney Atkinson has conquered the harshest terrains on the planet. Having been to the Olympics twice in between running deserts and climbing mountains, he knows how to keep his mind and body in check during even the most difficult periods. Atkinson lends his top eight tips to staying healthy over the Christmas break
Nothing good ever comes from New Year’s resolutions
You may as well just get started now. Everyone waits for New Year, going ‘Yeah I’m going to start this health kick’, but the reality is that these things usually last a week before they’re out the door. Start now.
Consistency always overrules a fad
Start working throughout the holidays. It doesn’t have to be a flat-out fitness regime, just make a start. Make a conscious effort to be more active and perhaps curb your excessive food and drink consumption to just a couple of days, instead of writing off the whole break. You’ll just feel better than if you completely let yourself go and start from scratch again on the first of January. It’s common sense.
Make the most of the free time
The holidays are the ideal time to try out new active or ‘outdoorsy’ activities to see what you like and start fostering positive new habits. Most of us won’t have to worry about work for a week or two, so if you take 30 minutes or an hour out of that time you’d otherwise be at work and put it towards doing something active, you’re already winning.
Get out the door early
I definitely recommend getting up and out the door early in the day — that can make a huge difference. First off you’ll beat the heat, but most importantly you’ll have the whole day to feel good about that exercise and reap the rewards. It’s so easy to put it off, but something will always pop up that you’d probably rather be doing, especially during the holidays. Just get up, get it done, then get on with your life before the excuses have time to pile up.
The holidays are a time when you might be surrounded by kids or family, so it’s important to be flexible in what you do to help you reach your goal. There’s no point in stressing about not being able to get a run in because someone’s suggested a round of family cricket at the beach — just step up your game and make sure you get a sweat up when you play. Whether you go for a surf, kick a ball around in the park or go for a bike ride, whatever it is, anything active is better than sitting on your arse and watching the footy.
Establish a healthy, active tradition
Around a lot of coastal Australia, some families head down the beach first thing on Christmas day. It’s just what they do. Other people might go for a big family walk after lunch or a mid-morning bike ride—whatever it is, an annual active tradition that whole family can get involved in is a great idea.
Stick to the 80-20 rule
When it comes to food and drink, I just live by the 80-20 rule. If you spend five days just eating crap, drinking and not exercising — of course you’re going to have to deal with the consequences. Again, it’s common sense. Personally, I’m a big believer in balance. You can’t just live like a monk, especially around the holidays. It’s a time of the year to be celebrating. But rather than snacking on junk throughout the whole holiday period, just try and avoid it for 80 per cent of the time, and indulge 20 per centof the time. It’s just about being sensible.
Eat because you enjoy it, not because it’s there
It’s not really the big lunch that’s the problem over the holidays, it’s all the stuff you end up eating and drinking around it. That’s where the damage is done. When there’s a surplus of food and snacks and sugary stuff all over the place, people tend to just mindlessly eat it because it’s there. Try and minimise the temptation by not leaving chocolates and sweets out for the sake of it. And when you wake up on December 27th, perhaps think about purging the house of any leftover calorific stuff. Out of sight, out of mind (and of off waistline!)
Courtney Atkinson is a Redbull Ambassador and two-time Olympic Triathlete.