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Industry experts share solutions to a healthier you 

We chat to industry experts about their solutions to a healthier you and the journey to the best possible version of yourself. 

It’s the start of a new year, which means we’re all feeling the effects of our indulgences over the festive season. Let’s face it – there’s something in the air around December time that makes all your health and fitness goals seem so unappealing and the need to let loose and live a little takes over.   

We end up swapping those spinach and kale smoothies for some margaritas and mimosas, and those grain-filled salads for something a little more decadent. Then, come January, there’s a slight panic to jump back into those strict diets and fitness regimes. Dietician Abigail Park and fitness guru David Thornhill are here to help with their top tips for a healthier you. 

Eat, drink & live SMART 

As we step into 2024, prioritize achievable health goals. Setting SMART goals is a powerful strategy for personal growth and achievement. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-bound. Instead of overwhelming yourself with a laundry list of unrealistic resolutions, it’s wiser to choose a select few that are genuinely important to you.  

This approach provides focus, allowing you to channel your energy and time to where it counts! Whether it’s improving your health, increasing your exercise or eating a healthier diet, SMART goals ensure you have a clear roadmap, enabling you to track your progress and celebrate your successes throughout the year. 

Say yes to more veggies, healthy fats and good carbs!  

One of the best ways to enhance your health is by increasing your vegetable intake. Aim to fill half your plate with an array of colourful vegetables, as each hue signifies a different phytonutrient 

To boost veggie consumption, design meals around them – experiment with vegetable stir-fries, hearty salads, or vibrant grain bowls. For smart snacking, keep pre-chopped veggies like cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers on hand. Pair them with delicious dips like hummus or salsa for quick as well as nutritious snacks.  

Add in small portions of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and olive oil, which support heart and cognitive function. Opt for high-fibre carbs like wholewheat bread, bulgur wheat and quinoa for sustained energy. Minimise processed and convenience foods, and prioritise whole, unprocessed options for a nourishing, balanced diet. 

Go vegan!  

Veganuary, a growing trend, involves adopting a vegan diet in January. This diet focused on unprocessed wholesome foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, but be mindful of nutrient gaps that can arise such as vitamin B12 and iron.  

Ensure you consume a variety of plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and soy to gain adequate amino acids to maintain your health. If you would like further help, reach out to a registered dietitian who can assist in individualising this Veganuary trend to meet your individual nutritional requirements. 

Hydration station:  

Staying hydrated during the hot summer months is vital. Go for water, sparkling water, homemade iced herbal teas or no-sugar cordials to quench your thirst. These beverages keep you well-hydrated without added hidden sugars.  

Limit sugary drinks, caffeinated beverages, and excessive alcohol, as they can lead to dehydration. Remember, your fluid needs increase in the heat, so aim to drink at least 1 glass of water per every 10kg that you weigh. Staying hydrated helps regulate body temperature, supports digestion, and promotes overall well-being. 

First and foremost, we must remember that movement is key to staying healthy. Your home, backyard or office set up can become the perfect venue if used correctly. David gives us his top tips to keep the body moving at home or at the office – not just for you, but also your whole family, too! 

  1. Make sure you are not sitting down for extended periods of time. Make an effort to get up from your desk, move around and stretch a bit every few hours. It can be to get some fresh air outside or simply a walk around the office for a catch up with a colleague to keep the body moving.
  1. Set up a step target (number of steps taken) for the day and make sure you reach those targets. This would mean eliminating lifts and escalators, and taking the stairs wherever possible. Every bit helps!
  1. Use your hour lunch break wisely. This will take some planning, but it’s totally worth it. Make sure you’ve got a nutritious lunch packed and do some research regarding safe places like parks or along the beach to go for walks around the office building (or your home).
  1. Find a 20 minute high-intensity work out and do these 2-3 times a week before or after work. By seeing these workouts into your daily schedule, exercise becomes more of a lifestyle than a chore. Once you are in a good routine, you can increase the number of days or workout times, at your own pace of course.
  1. Set some alarms for water breaks throughout the day, this way you’re staying hydrated, which is imperative (as mentioned by Abigail). Make sure that you get up and hydrate, and remember to constantly refill your water bottle.
  1. The sun rises earlier during summer, which means that our days starts slightly earlier than usual. Get into the habit of seeing your alarm 30 minutes earlier and get outside with the dog or family for a quick walk before the day of school and work starts.
  1. Take a few minutes to plan what meals you need to make and take to work for the week. 

Meet the team  

Abigail Park from Nutritional Solutions is a registered dietitian with the HPCSA and is a member of ADSA (Association of Dietetics in South Africa). Based in Joburg, Abigail has years of experience to her name and believes healthy eating and living is di­fferent for each individual – no two eating or fitness plans are the same. This makes her the perfect addition to the MK team. Visit for more info.   

David Thornhill is the owner and head coach at Boost Fitness. With over 10 years industry experience including various qualifications in exercise science, anatomy, mobility as well as sports and deep tissue massage, he has a unique ability to understand each client’s needs and adapt training requirements accordingly.    

David uses a variety of training techniques ranging from cross functional and strength to high intensity interval training. He adapts these methods in line with client goals, body mechanics and fitness levels. By facilitating these adaptations, David provides a safe, structured workout that’s also enjoyable, motivating and – most importantly – gets the results. 

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