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This is the first blog post in my new series for December; ‘Staying Sane this Season’. Throughout December we will be talking all things Christmas and how to  get through it whilst maintaining emotional health and well being.

According to The Mental Health foundation nearly two thirds of those who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, compared with less than half of those who do report daily mental health problems. This pattern is similar for fresh vegetables and salad. Those who report some level of mental health problem also eat fewer healthy foods (fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods and meals made from scratch) and more unhealthy foods (chips and crisps, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways).

If you are anything like me though, Christmas can be tricky to navigate. There are mince pies on sale on what feels like every aisle, there is the works Christmas do, Christmas markets, cheeky cheeses, and boxes upon boxes of chocolates to get through. Not to mention the Christmas dinner! How can we navigate our way through the Christmas season without piling on the pounds? Is it possible to make it to January still fitting into our jeans and without feeling guilty or miserable about how many extra calories we’ve consumed?

I caught up with twenty six year old lifestyle and fitness blogger, Mary-Kate Matthews to find out what she might be up to this season and if she has any tips to help us make it through to the other side in a healthy fashion.

MK: Hey! I believe everything is possible when you have a specific and manageable goal, a purpose and a focus. If there’s no goal the there is nothing to aim for, discipline goes out of the window and old habits take priority. Short term goals are your weapons, especially over the Christmas period. Remember balance is key, the aim is not deprive yourself of luxuries or treats, but to have balance. Here are my top six tips:

1) Set short term goals integrating balance: Christmas & New year fall on a weekend, how about setting a goal of saving the Christmas chocolate treats & alcohol beverages until the weekend 2) Swap items into your meal plan: Don’t skip your five a day for a Terry’s chocolate orange instead! There are always healthier alternatives, why not switch your quality street for luxury dark chocolate / Poached eggs instead of fried eggs / Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes / A refreshing Gin & slim line tonic instead of a large glass off sugary Rose. Keep your intake fresh & natural. Fruit & veg are excellent sources of natural vitamins & nutrients.

3) Plan ahead: If you’re eating out a lot over the festive period, why not plan ahead and choose your meal from the menu before you arrive at the restaurant. This will help you from choosing on impulse 

4) Start your day well: I start my day with a hot lemon water or peppermint tea and a protein shake. This flushes my digestive system & puts the right level of protein, carbohydrates & fats straight into my body. Set yourself up to win.

5) Hydration: Stay hydrated and continue to drink lots of water throughout the festive season, to wash away any toxins remaining in your body.

6) A little exercise a day goes a long way: You can head over to my youtube page for simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your home over the Christmas period.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/marykatemckay 

LJ: I follow you on your social media and I am inspired by your online posts. Can you tell us what motivated you to set up MK Matthews fitness in the first place? 

MK Matthews Fitness has been birthed out of a fight for health; of the soul, mind & body. My goal is to equip you for the fight, turning weakness into strength. For most of my teenage years I battled with bulimia, low self esteem and body dysmorphia. I struggled with lack of energy or motivation due to my eating disorder and lost my identity. There was a breaking point where I realised I needed help. I needed to heal my body and claim back my life. I surrounded myself with a good community of women, accountability and great teaching, I found this mainly in church. These women talked about Identity, about purpose and about living life to the fullest. Through my healing I found that building good habits to replace the bad habits empowered me. 

LJ: Thanks so much for catching up with us and for sharing your words of wisdom and encouragement. To stay focused and motivated over the Christmas season, why not follow Mary-Kate’s journey and be inspired by her positive mental attitude and passion for all things healthy by using the links below:

Instagram: @mkmatthews_fitness 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MKMatthewsFitness/ 

For more reading on eating well and how diet can affect our mental health why not check out this article from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Thanks for reading, if you think this could help someone, please give it a share.

Big love!


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