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How I enjoyed christmas and got fitter!!!

A typical christmas day :-)
A typical christmas day ūüôā

The plan over Christmas was to really test Fit2Thrive by getting into the spirit of the holiday and at the same time use all the fun as parent workouts to grow stronger and fitter. A tough challenge  that I really enjoyed.

The challenges

Those following this blog will have noticed that I took a long break over the christmas period. I wondered whether I should have posted a lot more but I wanted to get a proper break from the usual routine and enjoy the time with my family as much as possible.


At the same time I wanted to really put the concept of fit2thrive to the test and prove that parenting can make me healthy even during the festive period. I wanted to indulge myself, do very little yet some how maintain or even build my fitness using time with my family as my workout. Not something common wisdom says is possible but I like a challenge ūüôā and I’m convinced it is possible to get fit in my own way.

Snotty noses

The added challenge was that mummy was ill throughout because she had the lurgy parents often get. I think the reason she was so ill was that she had a manic lead up to christmas, particularly with planning the wee ones birthday and unfortunately had the inevitable crash afterwards. I expect it was caught from nursery since all the kids and a bunch of the parents had it.

I got infected too but, thankfully, I escaped the worst. I think in fact we suffered from 3 different illnesses one after the other because just as we thought we were on the mend, a different symptom came along. So basically there was snot and a bunch of dirty hankies about the place throughout christmas.


Oh and to make it even more interesting we were doing potty training!!! So the idea of leaving the house wasn’t as appealing as it normally is and I had the potential of being stuck inside with a frustrated little toddler practicing his pees and poos with an equally frustrated mummy tired and snot riddled and stuck in bed.

The fun

So that was the challenge I faced and I bet you’re wondering how did I have any fun?

Basically I winged it, a lot, and drew on all the practice I had done throughout the year with the concept of parent workouts like the play day at the family gym and the fun we had at home when little one was ill.

So a typical day involved something like

  • 3-4 movies: Binge watching as my wife now calls it. A few we watched intently but most were in the background and set up the play. We had how to tame your dragon 1&2, Cars 1&2, Planes 1&2 and a ton more
  • Food: oh yes, with all the food around I got to try so many different combinations of food, some I already know I love like left over roast veg and turkey and others I would never think of trying like home made roasted pear and brandy cream rice pudding which was truly bliss.
  • Alcohol: in truth I very rarely drink though I have started to drink more in the last few months. Since I knew I wouldn’t need to leave the house that removed the main reason I drink so rarely and I indulged, having 3-4 drinks a day from a bottle of cider to a shot in some coke.
  • Reading: I actually made the time to read on many of the days because it’s so hard to do the rest of the year. I got some books for christmas and I really enjoyed getting through them with a glass of cider or two.

This is just a small sample of the fun in case you thought I was secretly living like a gym nerd or a monk. To be fair I didn’t eat 2-3 courses in one sitting as often as I used to but that was because I don’t feel the need to any more. My food addiction is much happier to wait to eat something I really enjoy because I put so much more effort into eating things I really like.

The fitness

So what on earth did I do to maintain my health if I really was having so much fun?

  • play dates: with the little one reaching 3 this year he has really become rambunctious which makes having others round or visiting theirs much more fun and active. If he’s not jumping off the sofa or his bed then he’s running around the house playing ninja turtles or superheros. Joining in is of course is only polite and boy is that a workout ūüôā
  • family visits: What is christmas without visiting family. This really was a chance to relax. I find visiting family is a good distraction which generally helps me unwind from normal life. So it is less about a workout, more about destressing and play.
  • Be a squirrel: It also helps that I store most of my christmas food so it will last for months. Last year I made christmas last all the way until June so the challenge is to see what I can achieve this year. Instead of rushing through such magnificent food I really enjoy taking my time to enjoy every morsel I buy. So my freezer and shelves are now stocked with exquisite items I am looking forward to consuming.
  • preparations: House work and all the rest that goes into making christmas work was a chance to provide a little challenge to my body to remind it what I needed it to be capable of. The variation in tasks, from shopping, to cleaning, to wrapping, to little bits of DIY ensures my body becomes ready for anything.
  • play: Your body is like your home, do you make repairs during christmas, heck no, you do them when things calm down and your body is exactly the same. If you are always rushing then your body won’t take the time to replenish your reserves and make repairs so eventually something will break.

So these are a few of the things I did to give my body and soul what it needs it all seems a bit too good to be true doesn’t it.

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct

Carl Jung

The result

The point of my challenge was to have fun and get fit at the same time. So how do I share with you the results of my challenge? Instead of sharing calories burned or steps walked I will focus on two practical measures of health that you should be able to relate to.

Feeling fine

I have said before that I often find that christmas is a time I associate with ill health. Sometimes related to the pressures of the season but most commonly due to the pure indulgence and lack of the usual routine.

This time round I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this healthy over the whole of christmas, including the run up to it, since probably my teenage years. I played a lot which took care of the pressure and also gave me a little routine I could work with. Lots of the things that I needed to do like tidy and shop have become mini workouts over the last year so I automatically had my fitness covered.

My approach to food and drink has changed so much that I am really used to having lots of wonderful food on tap and enjoying the process of eating it up. So in all I felt as good and healthy through christmas as I do throughout the year. Which is quite a feat given the sickness that surrounded me and the challenges we had.

Pushing myself

A tennis match is always my best test of fitness because not only does it test all of me including my mind, body and emotions but during a match with someone at my current standard or above the intensity pushes each aspect of my mind, body and emotions to the limit.

People tend to forget that play is serious

David Hockney

The match

For this test I played against a good friend who is as competitive as me but his fitness is just incredible. I never have an easy match against him because he gets everything back which means every match becomes its own titanic struggle. I always feel beaten and bruised the days after our matches because I have to put everything into them so he really forces me to dig deep.

We got together to play a two set match this weekend just gone and had another epic clash. Even though I won, the result wasn’t the point because he may just have been less fit than normal. What amazed me was my fitness both through the match and the days after. The more fitness you lose the more sore you generally get after an intense workout because your ability to recover from pressures is reduced.

Less pain

I was less sore after this match than most matches I played last year which is an excellent sign. During the match I was even playing even better than I had before christmas which means that after a two week break I managed to come back and play even better, which is another impressive sign.

This story will not satisfy the statistically minded of you because this is one persons experience and there is no real way of knowing if I was actually fitter than two weeks previously or if my opponent had made me look better through his lack of fitness and that’s a fair enough criticism.

Though what normally happens when I come back from holiday is that it takes 1-2 weeks to get up to normal fitness so I expect to be more sore after my early matches and not as competitive. So what I showed myself is that I can take two weeks out for fun, not train and still remain competitive.

The keys

The key is that what I did to stay fit while playing is something you can easily do too because I just

  • played with my family and friends
  • took care of my house
  • and enjoyed each day.

I got to know my son more and created some great memories with him, spend more time with the family, ate good food and found some new things that I can enjoy in the future.

The easiest way to find out if you can do it too is to try and if you want so ideas then check out getting fit:create memories


If you want to find out how to get fit by doing the things you love like I do then checkout parent workouts

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