Get Inspired: Stay on top of your game during the festive season
Twenty-five year old Natasha Marke-Jones from Bridgend is one of Wales' leading hockey players, with nearly 40 caps for her country, as well as playing for Swansea City in the Investec Hockey League. She is also an International Athlete Ambassador for Hockey Wales and self-proclaimed food addict!
Christmas is often a tricky time of year for athletes to stay on track with their training, with parties and mince pies galore, but Natasha is on hand with five easy steps to enjoy and not over indulge this holiday season…
1 - HAVE 1 OR 2, NOT 10
During the party season, when you work in an office or go to relatives for a buffet dinner, over indulgence is hard to avoid. People always bring out the festive favourites and to turn down the purple Quality Street or a mince pie is always a struggle! I'm a massive food lover and it's practically at the heart of everything I do! That's a bit of an exaggeration but it really is all about moderation, and not just at Christmas. Our Strength and Conditioning coach is a big fan of flexible dieting and it's something that's really worked for my work-life-athlete lifestyle!
TIP: Have 1 or 2, not 10!
2 - FAIL TO PREPARE, THEN PREPARE TO FAIL
Life is pretty hectic over the holidays. Calendars are full with lots going on and this makes it really easy to skip a session. If you know your work Christmas party is Thursday and you are having a three-course meal, get that training session in first thing! It's great to feel smug that you've done a session and it really does set you up for the day.
TIP: If you struggle waking up on a wintry dark morning, try a dawn simulator! Also check gym opening hours - if it's closed then there's plenty of workouts that you can do at home. I find YouTube helps a lot.
3 - FOOD SWAP
Swapping traditionally unhealthy foods for their healthier counterparts is the easiest way to cut calories during the holiday season, and it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavour!
TIP: Swap roast potatoes for baked sweet potatoes, fatty meats like pork for the Christmas favourite, Turkey, and instead of custard try Greek yoghurt.
4 - STAY HYDRATED
When you're out of your normal routine it's easy to forget about filling up your water bottle and staying hydrated. Remember to drink at least two litres of water each day. Alcohol will dehydrate your body too, so if you're planning on having a few cheeky beverages make sure you have some water in between each one - and refer back to rule 1!
5 - BALANCE
Balance any late nights out with rest, relaxation and early nights. Have fun when you want to, but replenish yourself when you can! Similarly with food, buffets are the hardest to balance your plate…
TIP: Try to get 7-9hrs sleep per night and when it comes to the buffet, pick something colourful like peppers, something green like spinach or green beans, and something lean, such as turkey or chicken.
If Natasha has inspired you to dodge the mince pies and take up Hockey, take a look at our activity guide to get started.