As the festive season kicks into full swing, and we all adopt “frantic mode”, when even the most basic principles of looking after oneself take a back seat in favour of shopping, eating out and getting together with colleagues, friends and family for copious amounts of drinking…

The tendency is to think to hell with healthy living, there’s plenty of time for that in the New Year. However, when the New Year comes, most of us find that it’s just as hectic. Take time out to make a plan now for the forthcoming festive season and have a look at some of these ideas to help avoid growing a ‘Santa belly’.

1. Practice moderation not deprivation
Splurge a little at parties but eat sensibly for the rest of the week and ensure you incorporate activity. Choose the parties or events you attend and don’t just go to everything available. It’s a time of year when you can treat yourself just don’t go overboard.

2. Drink Green Tea
Drink green tea to minimize the negative effects of alcohol on the body. Green tea is filled with antioxidants and it is well known to combat oxidative stress all over the body. I recommend matcha tea, as it is proven to have 10 times the antioxidant levels of other green teas.

3. Get Enough Sleep
There’s a great quantity of research showing that people who are sleep-deprived are fatter than their well-rested counter-parts. Being tired leads people to eat more, particularly foods with more ‘bad’ fat. The biggest problem with sleep deprivation is that it leads to a number of hormonal issues including elevated cortisol, and lower growth hormone, serotonin, and melatonin.

4. Stay active and do resistance training
Take advantage of the cooler weather here to take an invigorating walk out in the fresh air, join an aerobics class at your local inner city park for fun, or hit the swimming pools and leisure centres. Many people discover that exercise is a great motivator to snack and drink less if they’ve accomplished a fantastic workout earlier. The best type of exercise is intense resistance training as it boosts your metabolism for hours afterwards, makes your body more able to cope with sugar and allows your body to better metabolize extra calories.

Avoid continuous moderate to high intensity aerobic training, as this will raise cortisol levels, oxidative stress, and has no effect on fat burning. Instead, include a sprint session with the resistance workout.

5. Be safe
Saigon can be a crazy place. Santa might have a couple of drinks with his cookies but the reindeer are always on the ball. Alcohol and xe om’s don’t mix… you’re best grabbing a taxi, check that the driver hasn’t been drinking and be on your merry way.

Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year! 

Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (, online or at your home. Contact him though his website or