Brigita Christmas

Will you be indulging in your favourite festive treats this Christmas, or are you keeping one eye firmly on your diet and training plan? Hoops Connect ambassador and fitness model Brigita Bonas falls firmly in the latter camp, so we asked her to share her thoughts on how to enjoy a healthy Christmas.

 

For lots of people Christmas means it’s time to throw diets out of the window and eat everything in sight.

But not everybody wants to waste all the hard work of the previous year.

I still enjoy festive food, but I try my best to keep it healthy and balanced. So I thought I’d share my routine, with a few tips thrown in for good measure, in the hope of helping anyone feeling anxious at the thought of all those potatoes and puddings!

 

“It’s great to challenge your self-control”

First of all, I need to start by saying that I’m Lithuanian, so I’ll probably be spending my festive season a little differently to you.

However, there are some key principles you can stick to to make sure you enjoy your Christmas without abandoning your usual routine completely!

The festive season starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas – the beginning of Advent. On Fridays during Advent Lithuanians are not allowed to eat meat, eggs or dairy products, although we are allowed to eat seafood.

During the season I swap between vegetarianism and pescetarianism – dependent on whether I’m bulking up or trying to get lean for my bikini fitness competitions.

As meat-eaters have to give that up during this period, I feel like I need to do the same, but I do need to improvise a bit. So I switch to a vegan diet instead.

It’s not easy as there are lots of products that contain animal-based ingredients that you would never think about (this article is a real help in working out what you can and can’t eat!)

The great thing about going vegan is that it cleanses and detoxes the body, as well as strengthening the immune system.

Not only that, it’s great to challenge yourself and strengthen your self-control, so it’s a win-win situation!

 

“There is no magical solution to eat huge portions and not put on weight…”

Christmas Eve is when it really becomes tough in Lithuania.

In addition to giving up meat, eggs and dairy products, 12 different dishes must be served, a tradition that represents 12 wealthy months in the following year.

Below is an example of 12 dishes that could be served on Christmas Eve, although every family will have their own favourites (click on each picture for a description).

As you can see, these dishes are dominated by fish and after being on a vegan diet up until this point, I do allow myself to overindulge just a bit.

One thing to notice though is that the fish has to be prepared with minimal amounts of fat, so no deep-fried fish!

Short-term, cooking the fish or any other food in too much oil can result in having an upset stomach and indigestion, where long-term it can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood leading to risk of heart disease.

One of the 12 dishes not to include fish is also one of those with the most health benefits.

Poppy seed milk isn’t something that you find in many countries outside of Lithuania, but it’s full of calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron, and promotes bone health, improved blood pressure, good metabolism, just to name a few.

We eat it with small, sweet pastries called kūčiukai. Delicious!

However healthy the food would be, there is no magical solution to eat huge portions and not feel heavy and uncomfortable, or to put on weight.

Portion control is still crucial, so what I tend to do is simply taste each dish rather than making each dish a separate meal.

As my grandfather used to say “ne tam geda kas daug eda, bet kas prisideda ir nesueda” – shameful is not the one who eats a lot, but the one who overfills the plate and doesn’t finish!

 

“Get some exercise into your Christmas, even if it’s just a walk!”

Brigita on a winter walk

On Christmas morning we go to the church immediately after waking up without having breakfast, which is usually not a problem after the 12 dishes the day before!

After mass, families gather around the breakfast table and indulge on a variety of meat based dishes as at this point, according to the religion, everything is allowed again, which means me getting back to my pescetarian diet.

I usually work out on a daily basis, but Christmas eve and Christmas day are the exception. However, on Christmas day I still try to get some sort of exercise in, so right after breakfast I usually manage to talk my family into going for long walks to the woods by the river.

At least that way I get my heart pumping, which helps to get my metabolism up.

Not only that, walking in the woods filled with spruces spoils my lungs with great amounts of fresh air rather than car emissions, so I would highly recommend finding some green places for your walks!

Obviously it’s easier for me as I celebrate Christmas in a village far from the urban rush which I am very grateful for, because we usually have lots of snow!

This is when a simple walk to the woods with my family truly becomes a festive walk, plus walking in the snow is a lot harder meaning it uses up a lot of energy, especially when you’re all bundled up to fight the cold!

In the end though, it’s the best feeling to enjoy the walk with the people you love, pockets full of nuts and come back to a warm fireplace with your cheeks all nice and pink.

 

“It’s a relief to get back to normal”

Brigita plans out her meals for the week regularly

In between Christmas and New Year I get back to my workout routine and back to my healthy, balanced diet – which I usually can’t wait for!

I plan my meals to make sure they are full of protein, fibre, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates

Christmas is so much fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a relief to get life back to normal and settle back into the routine.

If you feel the same, hopefully this blog will have been useful.

Merry Christmas!

 

What’s next?

Hoops is now available in app stores, so you can use us to find opportunities for any sport or fitness activity you can think of. Simply click here to download the app for Android, and here for iOS – or search for Hoops Connect.

Just because Hoops is out, it doesn’t mean that our work ends. In fact, it’s only just beginning. So, if you want to keep up with how we’re driving the app forwards, click here to subscribe to our emails, and follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, PinterestLinkedInMedium and even on Spotify. We’re everywhere, and hopefully we’ll be on your phone soon too!

Jump in.

Hoops App logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>