Tips to get you through festive (over) indulgences


There’s something about the year-end holiday season that has the unique ability to foil your best intentioned fitness plans. If you are determined to enjoy your time off without completely falling off the fitness wagon, let us introduce you to a guy who will steer you away from those awful crash diets and into the New Year feeling good about yourself.

He may look like he’s just left Uni, but Dave Watkeys is a highly qualified local body transformation coach with a passion for helping people of all shapes, sizes and ages to feel happy in their own skin. Whether it is to lose weight and keep it off, to put on weight or to stay at their current weight but repair their relationship with food while toning and conditioning themselves, Dave advocates healthy, wholesome, sustainable programmes to ensure individuals maintain good relationships with food and themselves.

Strongly against crash diets, binging or cutting entire food groups from a diet, Dave has a massive following on social media and Instagram in particular, through which he shares loads of useful tips and advice on  all kinds of health and fitness related issues and topics. When it comes to his clients (some of whom are international), he prides himself on never giving two people the same diet or exercise plan, personally compiling individual exercise plans and unique diets with plenty of variation for each client incorporating foods that they enjoy.

Dave’s share some of his top tips for keeping fit and healthy over the holidays…

“December is a time to unwind, relax, see family, friends and enjoy the festivities. This period can often leave people feeling lethargic as they are out of routine, eating poorly and may be drinking a little too much. My advice to you is to enjoy your time off, but perhaps make some smart, easy adjustments in order to limit the effects of the festive season, because it is important that you enter the New Year feeling energetic, happy and good about yourself.”

Intermittent fasting is not something Dave recommends indefinitely, but he says it is a great tool given the circumstances.

“During intermittent fasting, you reduce the time window in which you can eat, so look to restrict your eating window to eight hours (which is a common method used). So, you may eat from 12pm (noon) to 8pm. The principle is simple; you will miss breakfast and maybe a mid-morning snack, so when you overeat at a family lunch or dinner, you would have consumed the same total amount of food as you normally would daily. Unfortunately, intermittent fasting is not magical, so you could still gain weight on it if you don’t practice any form of control. However this is a great, free and easy-to-follow method that anyone could apply to their life, no matter what your level of experience or knowledge.”

Alcohol will undoubtedly be on offer at most gatherings, and it is often a focal point of social gatherings. Dave suggests a change in your drink of choice to reduce the number of unnecessary calories you’ll be taking in.

“Knock back a six pack of regular beer and you’re consuming 1000 calories. If you were to expend those calories in a run, you are likely going to be running for 90 minutes. Don’t worry, I am not telling you to give up drinking, but opting for a ‘light’ version of your choice beer can help reduce the number of calories you take in. The best option though, is to go for something like a vodka or gin with a zero-sugar mix (coke zero and sprite zero are often the popular choices). With this simple adjustment you could look at reducing your calorie amount taken in via alcohol by 60 per cent, while still enjoying the festivities with friends and family.”

Exercise a little

Perhaps a tip some might have hoped Dave wouldn’t mention, is exercise – something we all should be doing, but something we often neglect over December.

“People are out of routine, do not need to wake up at a specific time and often become complacent – neglecting any form of exercise entirely. My best piece of advice is that you rather do a little than nothing at all. Don’t expect to be perfect over December, but three weekly 45-minute gym sessions will prove invaluable. It will keep you ticking over, give some structure to your day and keep you feeling good about yourself. Having just a tiny bit of consistency over this period will pay off massively come January.

Walking is simple, it’s free, all able-bodied people can do it and yet, many of us avoid it.

“This is crucial during December, as most people take leave and don’t go into the office, which turns out to be a place where we probably walk around a lot, fidgeting and moving without consciously thinking about it, this is referred to as your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). Your NEAT actually adds up to a fair amount within a day, even if you are not directly aware of it. If you are at home on holiday, and not moving around much, this has implications. Your body will respond to the demands or lack of demands you impose on it. Granted, walking in South Africa can come with its risks, but try round up some friends and walk regularly as a group during an agreed time. This will also create a positive routine for all of you to follow, and allow you to hold one another accountable.

You can contact or follow Dave on Facebook: David Watkeys

or Instagram: @DaveWatkeys or visit