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Friday, 21 December 2012 11:30

Keeping in shape during the festivities

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This week News on Sunday is in a festive mood. The shining sun, the appealing cool sea water, big family get-togethers, delicious foods, parties till dawn… what else do we need to spend the perfect end of year holidays.
However, when you say end of year festivities, there are also the accompanying extras – over-eating, no exercising, hang-overs, too much sugar… But don’t worry ladies; you will soon know the secrets for keeping fit and not gaining a gram during the festive season. Georgina Ragaven, fitness instructor for years, tells us all about it.  So get your pen and paper and start noting down dear ladies.

Yes, we know nothing is more tempting in this hot weather than indulging into a creamy ice-cream, quenching our thirst with some chill sodas or beers, and enjoying hearty meals. All these taste so good to our mouth but at the end of the day we must sometimes pay a heavy price for our indulgence. The small excess we are and will be making can deceive us when we will sadly go back to our routine life. Georgina Ragaven, a British of Cyprian origin who has been living in Mauritius since 1993 is a well-known fitness instructor. She tells us how to slack down the excesses and take healthier food choices.

Being someone who has been involved with health and fitness for years, Georgina confides to us the importance that physical exercise holds in her life. “After my B.Ed, I pursued my studies in various fields of health, nutrition, fitness and wellbeing… My whole life has been dedicated to helping others in one way or another, and it has been an ambition to always think of ‘health’ as a way of life. 

Exercise does not only mean ‘aerobics’, dancing, zumba, steps etc. If you find some sort of physical activity you enjoy, be it walking, swimming, cycling, playing football or any other sport, this is all a form of exercise. Personally, I have been exercising ALL my life and still do….. I believe in keeping myself fit and healthy, what right do I have to advise others on how to look after their body, if I do not practise what I preach…”

Georgina has been teaching Mauritians the techniques of safe exercise and has even hosted TV programmes on exercise. Thus, being in the field for nearly twenty years, our interviewee gives us some of the reasons she thinks a regular physical exercise is important for each one of us. “It alleviates the symptoms of heart disease, reduces the risks of diabetes, can prevent certain cancers, lowers blood pressure, counteract the effects of stress and tension, can improve appearance and posture, can help weight control, aid relaxation and gives confidence and a sense of well-being, gives aesthetic satisfaction because it can be creative and self-expressive, amongst others.”

These reasons surely motivate us to note down our New Year’s resolutions if not, even start exercising immediately. As Georgina says “We only get one chance at life… let’s make the most of it!” Who knows may be the Mayan prophecy may be right and we do not have much time in front of us. But anyway, let’s not dramatise. Focusing back on the festivities, we must bear in mind that when exercising during the summer we must follow some vital instructions. “It is very important to rehydrate during this time of the year, the hot humid weather means we perspire more.  This perspiration is not just water but salts and electrolytes are also lost in the process. 

It is so easy to think of giving up the exercise plan due to the heat, but no, it is necessary to exercise and moderate what you do, try to avoid high profile exercise which will make you perspire more….swimming, brisk walking, toning, stretching, yoga and dancing are all great ways of keeping healthy during the festive season. It is important for everyone to keep in shape, but we women need to take care not to allow the hot weather spoil our exercise programme. It is so easy to gain excess weight and so hard to lose it,” says Georgina. One important piece of advice – “do not start sudden exercise during the heat but seek medical advice before starting any exercise if you are not sure about your health.”

Goodbye diet and welcome the hearty festive foods. Indeed, one of the most common things we will all be pretty much doing during this period is eating outside. Whether it is buying some fast foods or eating in restaurants, our diet surely suffers. “It is possible to use the holiday period as a healthy bonus, you choose what you eat and drink. I am not saying deprive yourself, of or starve but at the same time it is not a good idea to make yourself ill by overindulging.

Things that are fried already have lots of calories, the snacks served at cocktails, nuts, crisps etc…all amount to a lot of excess without much nutritional value. You can eat healthily, just by being a bit more selective,” advises Georgina. “As we all know, summer in Mauritius is the season for delicious fruits and vegetables. Thus we can make healthier eating choices as the market is full of foods that are good both for our body and mind. Let’s say that instead of eating an ice-cream or heavy dessert, why not enjoy the sweetness of ripe mangoes or a bowl of juicy litchis.”

Georgina’s end of year message and advice to all of you ladies: “For the New Year, focus on your body rather than forgetting about it, make sure your fitness exercise does not become a casualty of the seasonal splurge.  Working out will keep your body awareness at a premium, for maximum indulgence increase the amount of time you spend exercising.  Don’t forget, you only gain weight if you eat more calories than your body needs to survive, so use the calories up by exercising.

However, do not push your body to the limits. Stay safe, stay healthy, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year.” News on Sunday also wishes Georgina Ragaven and all our readers a Merry Christmas. Instead of leaving some milk and cookies for Santa, let’s help him keep fit. Show him that you care and leave some healthier foods for him to eat. We are sure, Santa will be delighted and you will receive all the gifts you wished for.
Jameela Jaddoo

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