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Healthy Holiday Off Season Tips

07 December, 2017

It might be hard to believe, but 2017 is nearly over, and Christmas is mere weeks away. For most of us, this is one of the busiest months of the year, as well as the most indulgent. The run up to Christmas is filled with parties, the amount of tempting food available everywhere (Christmas cookies in the office! Advent calendars! Christmas sandwiches!) seems to triple, and a steaming mug of mulled wine on a chilly evening (especially after a ride) can be very tempting.
It can also be a tiring time. Between family commitments, traveling, and finding ourselves with an increased workload in the run-up to the new year, the holidays can all contribute to us feeling worn out. To top if off, we’re all more susceptible to colds, coughs, and flu. The more run down we are, the more likely it is we’ll find ourselves in the grip of illness at this time of year. 
That’s why I believe in a work hard, play hard approach to the festive season. We all deserve to let our hair down, but now is a key time to pay extra attention to your nutrition and make sure you’re putting aside time for regular exercise, to keep you feeling strong, energized and well to saddle up. While I've become a pro at traveling and avoiding flu season, I've also developed some habits that are helpful to staying fit and healthy across the next few festive weeks:
Hydrate like crazy
Keen riders will know how vital it is to stay hydrated, but if you’re drinking more alcohol than usual this month, it’s crucial you make an effort to increase your water content. Alcohol is diuretic, which is why we get headaches and feel drained the morning after. Carry a water bottle with you, keep one on your desk, drink lots during and after exercise, and always match an alcoholic drink with a glass of water when you’re on a night out. You’ll really notice the difference if you do! On the days that you do go a bit overboard, you can help your body out by drinking water with fresh lemon. It will help alkalise your system and get your liver back up and running.
Eat properly
Admit it: a miniature smoked salmon bagel washed down with prosecco is not a sensible dinner. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy canap├ęs or party treats; just make sure you’re making time for proper, healthy meals too. Start the day with nourishing, filling breakfasts like poached eggs and avocado or porridge, make sure your snacks during the day are raw and healthy, and if you’re rushing to an event after work, make the time to eat beforehand. Even a banana and a handful of nuts can keep you feeling full for much longer and reduce your cravings once you start to drink.
Rest up
Don’t make late nights a habit. Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, weight gain and won’t make you feel jolly and festive in the coming weeks: you’ll be less productive and more sluggish. If you’ve got a big party or ride the next day to go to, get an early night before and after it to regain that balance.
Know your limits
You’re not obliged to be the last one clutching the karaoke microphone at your work party. Only you know what works for you, so don’t be afraid to spread your social commitments out to pace yourself. Cyclists are generally very good at managing their limits since most of our free time and energy is spent on riding. Planning ahead helps, so take time to sit down and assess your time and goals. Factor in time for yourself: evenings where you rest, and times devoted to training. 
Sweat It Out 
During December, exercise and riding can be something that slips from people’s schedules, when in reality it should be made a priority. Putting aside time to work out will not only help you avoid gaining weight, but it’ll reduce stress, help keep your immune system fighting fit and give you a break. As with most training, even in the off season, consistency is key - so even if you’re social schedule is booming, make time for those sweat sessions so that all of your hard work doesn’t go out the window.
Give Yourself A Challenge
While images of you resting by the fire with mulled wine in hand are conjured up, Rapha has put forth the call once more to get riders out on their bikes and burn off those party treats and holiday sweets! The Festive 500 is back and is a great way for some to get out of the house after spending all day with the family and feeling like a slouch.What is the challenge? Rapha challenges riders the task of completing 500km over the course of eight days from Christmas eve right up to New Year. Read more about Rapha Festive 500 to join the festivities.
Image Courtesy: @Rapha

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