If you want to know how to get a holiday body, then there is a quick fix. Step one is go on holiday… Step two is… there isn’t a step two. Voila!
Your body is now on holiday!
Okay, so I know that isn’t what the programme makers of Get a Holiday Body meant. Before launching into what this recap has to do with my usual raison d’etre of value for money, I wanted to address the problematic title of this Channel 5 diet programme.
While a “holiday body” will look different to different people, the implication is that we somehow need to be thinner than today to go on holiday in future. I’m not sure whose benefit this is for. This places the emphasis on how we look rather than any health gain from maybe eating only the calories we need, or being a bit more active.
The show was subtitled Lose A Stone in Four Weeks. This is also a fast rate of weight loss, quicker than what the NHS recommends. (No wonder viewers are annoyed with Lose A Stone in 21 Days on Channel 4 right now). All that aside, this show actually had better intentions than its title initially suggests.
What Get A Holiday Body is really about
I’m not into any language about “holiday bodies”. Who decides what looks like a holiday body? However, the premise of the show was actually to find a sustainable lifestyle for two celebrities and a journalist who felt they had a problem relationship with food and weren’t active enough.
While their aim was to lose weight over four weeks, the point was really to find the tools to maintain their new habits going forward. Anthony Costa from Blue and West End performer Zoe Birkett took part, and they both require a lot of energy on stage after all.
The show gave them a personal trainer and lots of help from nutritionist Linia Patel. The advice on the show comes from someone qualified therefore. (I’m neither of these, so assume any health claims below come from the programme. Otherwise I’ll clearly link to the source).
Broadcaster Nicky Taylor tried their new lifestyle on her own without any professional help and while still working full time. This was the part that caught my attention.
We’re fed a diet (pun intended) of information that says we should look like celebrities who pay a fortune for PTs and special meals. Or they’re eating funky weird-ass diets that no nutritionist would actually recommend for long-term health. Trying to apply all the faddy advice swirling around in magazines and on the interwebs often directly hits our bank accounts.
We’d have a lot more money in our savings accounts if we could stop getting sucked into buying products pedalled by the diet industry that aren’t backed by science, and if we could spend frugally on food in exchange for maximum nutrition.
Exercise can be done for free. Unless we’re bodybuilding or competing athletically, we might divert our hard-earned cash towards bigger things like a roof over our heads. All while still being able to run for the bus without collapsing like a baby giraffe.
The series was four episodes. In each part Linia suggested some nutritious recipes to get Zoe and Antony through the day. They also tackled food dilemmas like snacking for comfort rather than out of hunger.
Each week Nicky tried to DIY Zoe and Antony’s personal trainer-led workouts. Also Nicky investigated a diet fad in each episode and looked for lower calorie solutions to her Achilles heels. Lastly, they tested out some trendy cosmetic treatments.
Here’s what I’ve covered below:
- Linia’s Recipe Suggestions
- What Does Paying For A Personal Trainer Get You?
- How To Exercise For Free
- Nicky Investigates: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Nicky’s Calorie Swaps: Chocolate
- Diet Problems: Portion Sizes
As with my recaps of How to Lose Weight Well and Save Money Good Health, I haven’t written anything about the weigh-ins at the end of each episode. How much weight anyone loses doing anything is individual. Linia says it depends on our build, body composition, age, and history with diets. A yo-yo dieter will usually lose weight more slowly. Being thin(ner) isn’t a single indicator of health.
I hope the following demystifies some of the tosh floating around the web about weight loss. Also I hope it helps you spend better so that your financial goals and your health goals don’t decimate each other in a fiery ball of diet hell.
While I’m anti-crash diets and I’m not trying to invent my own health claims, this blog post references parts of the show that could bring up memories of disordered living for some of you e.g. over-exercising or calorie counting. If you’ve had an eating disorder before, or suspect you have an eating disorder, please speak to a professional ASAP.
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Linia’s Recipe Suggestions
Linia didn’t go into too much detail about why she chose the ingredients she did. I’ve recapped enough shows to see why she’s likely recommending these foods.
Breakfast: Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs (in a teaspoon of butter), a tomato and a slice of rye bread.
The NHS recommends to eat two portions of fish a week with one of these being oily fish. Salmon counts and has unsaturated fat and omega 3. Lots of dieters are afraid of butter, but Linia says it’s “a nutrient-rich fat”. Using only a teaspoon is portion control in action.
I wrote about rye bread versus other breads in my recap of the controversial The Truth About Carbs. On the same show they bigged up eggs as breakfast food for being low carb. In the same post I covered why low carb diets get a lot of criticism.
Chicken stir fry with sweet peppers and broccoli
Lunch/dinner recipe: Chicken, sweet pepper, broccoli and mange toute stir fry. Cook in sesame seed oil, soy, garlic and ginger, and top with flaked almonds.
Linia said the chicken can be swapped for salmon (although presumably not on a day with a fish breakfast). If you’re veggie I suppose you could go big on the almonds for more protein? At lunch Linia would pair with noodles or rice. However, she’s a proponent of putting more veg on the plate at dinner instead if we’re not planning activity afterwards.
Chicken thighs are the cheapest way to buy chicken which is a bit awkward for a stir fry. However, if you batch cook the thighs ahead of time in another recipe, you could pull the leftover meat from the bone for this (reheat thoroughly).
Lunch alternative: Prawn and avocado wrap with tomato and rocket
This doesn’t look that affordable on paper. A way to do it cheaper is to buy frozen prawns (not king prawns) from a discounter. Aldi/Lidl also often do four packs of avocado for £1.45 which is the cheapest I’ve seen. If it changes, it will be updated on this page:
Snack: Chocolate banana milkshake
For this they blended a banana with cocoa powder and milk, so all the sweetness comes from the banana. This recipe was for Zoe’s chocolate cravings because her partner bought her two of the biggest and most extravagant Easter eggs I’ve ever seen! If we do want to change the way we eat for any reason, we need to talk to whoever we live with so that they can find other ways of showing they care.
Are you an Amazon Prime member? Amazon Fresh are now offering free delivery to selected postcodes. If you usually pay for grocery deliveries, see if it nets you a saving with a 30 day free trial of Amazon Fresh first.
If you’re not a member, you can get a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime beforehand. That should give you time to do some price comparisons on your food shopping (while you access everything else included like access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, free streaming of TV and music, and one-day delivery on your orders).
Students will want a free trial of Prime Student instead as the free trial lasts six months, and you pay 50% less if you decide to stay.
What Does Paying For A Personal Trainer Get You?
For starters a lot of Tim’s Get A Holiday Body exercises are on the Channel 5 website, so they don’t cost a penny. Meanwhile, Antony and Zoe had to work out three times weekly for two hours each time. This would rack up quite a bill with an hourly trainer.
If six hours a week sounds impossible, personal trainer Michelle Heaton features in a later episode and she has three minute long YouTube workouts. If we do one of those, we’ll probably miraculously find that we’ve got time to do the others in the playlist…
Tim got Zoe sledgehammering and using ropes; it was all very Khloe Kardashian. Most of us don’t have sledgehammer or a rope lying around at home. To engage as many muscles as possible without equipment, you’re likely to be looking at bodyweight training. My recap of Eat Shop Save lists some ideas on how to use the home as your gym.
Antony doesn’t like traditional gyms, so Tim designed him an outdoor gym doing things like lifting logs. This had more of a SAS: Who Dares Wins vibe.
Why personal trainers don’t want you to “diet”
They showed Antony fading 45 minutes into a two hour session though. Antony said he didn’t like exercising in the afternoon. Tim said it was down to fuel though, not time of day. Antony didn’t eat beforehand because of weight worries, but to train hard, you have to eat well!
On How to Get Fit Fast they talked about carb loading for endurance. Antony’s two hour workout counts as endurance exercise. I can’t link to another article I wanted to because it’s on a US website which is now blocked because of GDPR. It was an interview though with celebrity trainer Gunnar Petersen which I found curious.
Despite his reputation for crafting “hard” bodies in Hollywood, Gunnar was quoted as saying a big frustration was clients who don’t eat. It was completely counterproductive for him because they pay him for results, but he couldn’t train them properly. They would crash out too early because of not eating before workouts (or eating much at all). He advocates on his own site fuelling workouts by not only eating(! What a concept!), but also eating plenty of carbohydrate and protein: 4 Habits That Can Take Your Fitness Routine From Good To Great
I’d normally be wary of linking to celebrity trainers and related content. There’s probably nothing gained from trying to look like a certain celeb, or trying to mimic a million dollar lifestyle. I wanted to demonstrate the gap between our assumptions about how these people train and what they really do though. Unfortunately bloggers sometimes fill this gap promoting pseudoscience, excluding food groups, or other practices that their doctor wouldn’t actually recommend.
How To Exercise For Free
I mentioned a few ideas outside the show above, but besides Michelle Heaton, YouTube is your friend. If you read How To Save Like A Bear In August, then you’ll know who I’m about to recommend.
Joe Wicks established his channel to help anyone exercise at home for free. He has a bit of something for everyone no matter your fitness level and how much time you have.
Zanna van Dijk posts workouts on her lifestyle channel too if we’re looking for something more intermediate.
Nicky was trying to be more active without a personal trainer. Public health researcher Ruth Jepson said our metabolism slows down when we sit. Instead of just doing exercise outside work, we should try and be more active throughout our day.
If we sit a lot at work, this might mean having a walking meeting, or just getting up every 15 minutes to walk around for a minute. When I worked in an office, I sometimes had too much energy to sit. I’d get rid of my chair and work standing up for as long as I could. The desk was too low to sustain this for too long though.
Do standing desks help?
If your managers usually have open ears to negotiating perks then campaign for more ergonomic furniture. Those of us working from home can invest in items that allow us more movement.
If you do plan to write off a standing desk as a business expense, mind that some desks are only sold as the frame. This Crank Adjustable Height Sit to Stand Up Desk includes a frame AND a desktop in different colour options.
If we have a built-in desk or work area, then we can get tax relief on a desk converter instead like the VariDesk Pro Plus Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter. By the same token these are easier to put out the way usually if our “desk” is actually a folding dining table or similar that also gets put to bed in a multipurpose space. (The joys of working from your dining-living-music-playroom, eh?)
I found out about the two above options via Sports Chiropractor and Injury Prevention Specialist Dr Joella. She’s also how I discovered Ergonomic Anti-Fatigue Standing Desk Mats. These are designed to make it more comfortable to stand, but also to encourage you to naturally shift your feet about without doing a full rendition of Riverdance while you type.
While we’ve drifted there, there are also free Amazon Business accounts if you need to order office supplies regularly.
Does a fitness tracker help?
Nicky gave fitness monitors to an office to see if they could do 100000 steps in one week.
In my recap of episode five of How To Lose Weight Well, Professor Andy Lane concluded that fitness trackers can be a useful reminder to move more. They tested the Fitbit Surge 2 and Samsung Gear Fit2 on that show.
The Fitbit Surge Fitness Super Watch: cape not included
The Samsung Gear Fit2 is ripe for the secondhand market
The newest Samsung wrist fitness tracker at the time of writing is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2. Besides features, the advantage to buying a newer model is that you can spread the cost of monthly payments interest free. I’d only do this if it’s because you’re earning interest on what you don’t hand over right away, rather than because you can’t afford to pay in full in the first place. (But I’m not a financial advisor, so do what you like!)
As ever, the £10 Amazon gift card to get an Amazon credit card at the same time is a tradeoff. Balance the impact on your credit score if you have applied for credit recently, or plan a big application very soon like for a mortgage. Set up a direct debit to pay it off in full monthly also to avoid interest.
Other ways to exercise at work
Here were their other tips to be more active at work:
- Go and see a colleague instead of emailing if allowed
- Move tea and coffee making facilities to another room or floor
- Drink more water – enough that you actively nip to the loo more often!
- When you need a recycling bin etc, use the one farthest from your desk
- Park further from the door
Jokes aside, it’s important to have a decent reusable drinks bottle to drink plenty of water anyway and to avoid needing to buy water out the house. I’ve relied on Platypus Soft Bottles for years because they fold flat as they empty, so they’re very convenient for on the go. Tip: to dry out the inside after washing, feed the end of a tea towel into the bottle until the opening is plugged. The fabric will soak up the moisture. Neat!
Coffee lovers might prefer to invest in a dual purpose Klean Kanteen, then you can refill with tap water when your coffee’s gone.
If you must buy coffee shop coffee, or want to use the coffee run itself as an excuse to stretch, then I have a way for you to get free money as extra loyalty points.
If we’re not driving, we can get off the train/bus one stop farther away and walk the rest. Also I’ve written about run commuting in this post:
What if other people object to you relocating the coffee and tea? I reckon double up on the tea and coffee in different locations, or put your mug somewhere else.
What would you say to your employer if they thought all this wandering around was less productive? I’d argue that there’s lots of evidence that exercise makes us more productive. I guess the results have to show in your work though.
Nicky Investigates: Apple Cider Vinegar
Nicky tried apple cider vinegar after hearing hype about its effect on weight loss. An expert rained on her parade in a rickety tick though. In a study in Japan some obese dudes lost 2.5 lbs after 12 weeks of taking apple cider vinegar. This was not quite what Nicky wanted to hear since she was aiming to rapidly “get a holiday body” (lose a stone) in four weeks. If it was a miracle cure, the expert said the NHS would prescribe it already.
So…if you made special room in your budget for this for weight loss reasons, you might be wasting your money.
Nicky’s Calorie Swaps: Chocolate
Nicky looked for chocolate bars as an alternative to Linia’s milkshake since she tends to buy food on the go. Why not make the milkshake to take with you?
Perhaps Nicky knows that she won’t prepare anything in advance even with the best intentions. Or perhaps she knows that she impulse buys snacks even when she thinks she’s planned her meals.
Nicky settled on the following bars under 150 calories:
She also highlighted Nakd Cocoa Orange which isn’t a chocolate bar. This probably has the most nutrition out of all of them. Nakd are one of the few processed and prepackaged snacks that I buy because others are very expensive for what you get.
I stack discounts at Holland and Barrett when possible, but if they’re not on promo, then Amazon also usually has new flavours that you can’t get easily in the shops anyway.
Diet Problems: Portion Sizes
Anthony didn’t know how to cook. He had no idea therefore how to approach Linia’s meal plan, or how to portion out the ingredients.
Linia recommended that half our plate at lunch is vegetables, a quarter of the plate starchy carbohydrate, and a quarter protein. (Keeping in mind that no food is just one thing…)
When Linia orders in a restaurant she tries to order something where the protein and starchy carbohydrate component are likely to be the size of her palm each. If there aren’t enough vegetables in the same dish, she would order extra vegetables on the side to ensure she is eating more vegetables than protein or starchy carbohydrate.
At dinner she aims for a plate that is 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 protein. This is because she said often the starchy carbs are not needed for energy at this time of day. A chicken stir fry would have no noodles or rice for example. (But don’t be afraid of carbs! Especially if you are active after dinner!)
How To Get A Holiday Body On A Budget
So how do you get a body that can survive the rigors of air travel? How many of us are actually paying the diet industry to harm our health? What if you could put that money towards a big goal like a house deposit while getting fitter? What if getting fitter is not the same thing as getting thinner?
How many questions can I ask before the end of this blog post? Let’s sum this up.
Linia’s recipes emphasise portion control and maximum nutrition rather than a restrictive diet. The only potential exclusion is to not eat starchy carbs in the evening if activity levels are low. It doesn’t exclude any carbs, unsaturated fat, or other food groups otherwise. This way of eating should be sustainable long term therefore compared to a crash diet.
A personal trainer is an investment if you also have a lot of time to invest. They will tailor the exercise to the individual like with Antony’s outdoor gym.
Bodyweight training without equipment can be done for free and replicates resistance training in the gym though.
A personal trainer is a waste of money either way if you train hungry as you won’t endure.
If we’re time-strapped, we can redesign our work environment and routine for more daily activity for free. (Or get paid to exercise!)
Following Linia’s portion sizes alone might make a difference to health and budget. Especially if we have a tendency towards making mountains at dinner (with seconds, and thirds… and dessert. Then seconds, then thirds…)
What if we don’t need to get a holiday body at all
The title Get A Holiday Body is still hella awkward. I think the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Hollywood Walk of Fame look the same regardless of our weight when we visit. If we’re sightseeing then that implies that the reason we went abroad was to see something we can’t at home. Otherwise we’d need to change the definition of a holiday. Holiday: this thing you do once a year where you turn up in another country a stone lighter just because…
To get holiday body ready might be synonymous for some with trying to find their idea of an acceptable bikini body if you prefer to spend time on the beach or around the pool. Again I think a bikini body should just be a body with a bikini on… All being well on location, the sun still shines, the company’s still good, and the water’s still warm regardless of what you’re wearing. Isn’t that why we go away in the first place? Am I doing holidays wrong?
They didn’t detail all of the recipes mentioned on the show, but they are on the Channel 5 website. Because they’re designed to be portion-controlled and balanced meals, they should be good all-rounders whatever your goals. Don’t be shy of the comments if you are a convert of any of Linia’s suggestions.
Next time on Get A Holiday Body…
Here’s what I’ve covered for episode two:
Linia’s Recipe Suggestions
Diet Problems: Needing Vegetable Inspiration; Snacks On The Go
Which Exercise Burns The Most Calories?
How Does A Personal Trainer Create Abs?
Are Salon Treatments For Fat A Waste of Money?
Nicky Investigates: Chilli
Nicky’s Calorie Swaps
I’ll try to post all of the episodes on consecutive days. Subscribe if you want a reminder when all of the series has been posted. Subscribers get a weekly roundup of new posts as well extra earnings and savings tips on all areas of life.