7 ways to stay healthy and merry this Christmas

‘Tis the season to be merry. It’s also potentially the season to be messy, with parties, social gatherings, and many opportunities to over-indulge. Whilst the festive period can offer an excuse to treat yourself and let go for a bit, it can also challenge your healthy lifestyle. 

Here are some tips and recipes to keep the fun factor up and the excess calories down this Christmas.

1. Set achievable goals

Set goals that are achievable and align with maintaining your current weight rather than significant weight loss.

Or better yet, put those extra calories to work and focus on building muscle during this time.

2. Remain active

Try to be consistent with your exercise. Even amidst the mad holiday rush, aim for gym sessions or some form of exercise to ensure it’s a priority, even during busy times. Incorporate activities like beach walks to keep moving, pack a skipping rope and resistance band in your holiday suitcase, and mix up your cardio and strength training to maintain muscle mass and burn calories.

3. Stay hydrated

Hydration (of the water variety) is crucial for the functioning of every cell and is one of the key markers that Coach Sarah Barty looks at improving for participants doing the MHQ Body Composition Program.

This is because it’s one of the key nutrients required for detoxification, which may come in handy with all those Christmas parties!

4. Accountability and support

Remember your MHQ crew is your support system. Whether it’s your workout buddies, your coach or a friend or family who shares your health goals, having support can help you stay motivated and less judged when you reach out for soda water instead of champagne bubbles.

5. Rest, recover, reset

The hustle and bustle of the holidays or just life itself can lead to stress and fatigue. Use this time for down-time if you can. Try to prioritise adequate sleep without feeling guilty, manage stress through relaxation techniques, and prioritise self-care and socialisation to support your overall well-being.

6. Plan ahead for events

Before attending holiday gatherings, consider eating a small, nutritious meal or snack. This can prevent you arriving overly hungry, reducing the temptation to overeat those tasty chocolate covered nuts you didn’t really want in the first place.

7. Mindful eating

This is where it’s easy to get carried away. Try to be conscious of portion sizes, savor each bite, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Enjoy your favourite holiday treats in moderation whilst balancing them with healthier options.

Go for nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains whenever possible. Fill your plate with vegetables and lean proteins first. This can help control portion sizes and ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.

If you go over-board with the treats, don’t stress – just jump back on the healthy bandwagon again as soon as you can.


Need some healthy Christmas inspo? Try these awesome holiday recipes.


Quinoa-Stuffed Roasted Capsicum


  • 4 large capsicums (assorted colors)
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh coriander or parsley for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 190°C
  • Cut the tops off the  capsicums and remove seeds and membranes. Place them in a baking dish
  • In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, sauté until translucent
  • Add cherry tomatoes, black beans, and corn. Cook for a few minutes
  • Stir in cooked quinoa, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well
  • Spoon the quinoa mixture into each capsicum until they are full
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes until the capsicums are tender
  • Garnish with fresh coriander or parsley before serving.

Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt


  • In a food processor, pulse the rolled oats until they’re finely ground
  • Add dried cranberries, chopped pistachios, honey or maple syrup, almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt to the food processor.
  • Blend the ingredients until they form a sticky, uniform mixture
  • If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit more honey or nut butter. If it’s too wet, add more oats
  • Once the mixture is well combined, scoop out small portions and roll them into bite-sized balls using your hands
  • Place the energy bites on a parchment-lined tray (with option to cover with sesame seeds) and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set.


Baked Apples with Cinnamon


  • 4 apples
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pecans)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
  • Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream (optional topping)


  • Preheat oven to 190°C.
  • Core the apples, removing the seeds and creating a well for filling
  • In a bowl, mix the chopped nuts, maple syrup or honey, cinnamon, and dried cranberries or raisins if using
  • Stuff each apple with the nut mixture, packing it i.
  • Place the stuffed apples in a baking dish and cover with foil
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the apples are tender. Serve warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.


These recipes offer a blend of flavours, packed with fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients from nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. They provide a burst of energy without excess sugar and are perfect for maintaining a healthy balance during the festive season, whilst allowing you to enjoy delicious holiday meals and snacks.


Want to know more or try 14 days of classes for just $49? Reach out right here!


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5 Simple Guidelines to Good Nutrition 

As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat”.

Eating well does not have to be complicated, but it does require some smart thinking.

MHQ Coach Sarah Bartlett shares here her top 5 tips from her Nutrition Guidelines for Health & Wellness. that she provides to her Body Composition Program clients.

1. Eat regularly throughout the day 

Whilst most of us are familiar with traditional “3 meals a day” or “Intermittent Fasting” style eating, there are many benefits of eating more regularly during the day which include:

  • Sustained energy for the entire day 
  • Better hunger control, making you less likely to snack or binge
  • Easier to meet your daily calorie requirement 
  • Improved blood sugar stability 
  • Improved metabolic function, energy and management 
  • More opportunity for variety to ensure your Recommended Dietary Intake needs (RDIs) and tastes are met.

2. Hydrate as required 

Our bodies are composed of 65-75% water, much of which requires daily replenishment. 

Many Australians don’t meet daily water consumption requirements, and we need enough water to:  

  • Ensure adequate hydration 
  • Control thirst and hunger 
  • Increase the body’s ability to metabolise fats and aid digestion 
  • Increase energy, feelings of wellbeing and brain function 
  • Help reduce joint and back pain, and risk of colon and breast cancers. 

3. Consume the right balance of protein, fats and carbs

Every meal should contain protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats in a balanced ratio that is right for your body type and body composition goals. 

Protein should come from from a mix of both animal and plant based sources, and can lead to a higher metabolic rate, improved muscle development and reduced cardiovascular risk.

Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for the body and should be mostly from vegetables, fruits and select whole-grains to ensure a long-lasting supply of sugar in the blood. 

Fats from healthy sources include oily fish, healthy oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.  

4. Consume SLOW Food

Opt for foods that are in SEASON, from LOCAL sources, are ORGANIC and non-GMO based WHOLE FOODS.

Eating in Season – we evolved with the planet and its seasons and there’s a reason certain fruits are available in Winter and others in Summer, such as high Vitamin C citrus fruits in Winter to help with immunity. 

Eating food that’s in season is also cheaper to purchase and likely has travelled less distance so is fresher.

Eating local produce is similar in concept to eating seasonally, in that it’s better for your health, the planet, and your wallet. This also has the added benefit of supporting local businesses. 

Organic foods are produced without the use of herbicides, pesticides or GMOs and under strict sustainable farming procedures and guidelines. Long-term exposure to chemicals may have devastating impacts upon gut health, metabolic function, nutrient absorption, hormone levels, and more. If you are consuming the skin that may have had chemical exposure think about going organic.

Wholefoods can generally be those coming from a farm (eg fresh fruit and vegetables) and are minimally processed.


5. Follow the 80/20 rule

If you are committed to achieving optimum health and your desired body composition results, you need to follow the above guidelines at least 80% of the time.

If you follow the rules 90% of the time you’ll get great results, and 100% of the time you’ll get outstanding results.

If you are just 70% committed you’ll slow down your progress.



These are general quidelines and every body is different – one size does not fit all.

In the MHQ Body Composition Program Coach Sarah Bartlett will work with you on specific food types, quantities, eating patterns and exercise training programs that will work best for YOUR BODY.


Next Program starts 7 October 2023 – click for more

MHQ Body Composition Program

Superfoods – what to stock in your kitchen and why

By MHQ Clinical Nutritionist, Amy Olsen.

Save your money on noni juice and goji berries, and invest in your health with these 11 humble superfoods.


Avocados are a powerhouse of nutrients, including being a great source of fibre and monounsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids help lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol, being protective to our heart health. Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, so it’s easy to consume these in excess than we require. A quarter to half an avo a day stays within our dietary requirements.


Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They’ve been shown to improve memory, increase learning and enhance cognitive function. Studies have shown blueberry consumption to be protective against cognitive decline. Having this superfood frozen is just fine.


Broccoli is from the cruciferous vegetable family, which supports our detoxification processes. Broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol which further supports detoxification, and is believed to have cancer-protective effects.


Eggs are one of the highest sources of choline. Choline is an essential nutrient, which means you need to obtain it from your diet. Choline impacts many processes including cognitive, nervous system, and muscle functions. Supplying approximately 7g of protein per egg, they’re also the original protein ball, minus all the additives and sugar.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Similarly to avocados, EVOO also contains monounsaturated fatty acids, providing the same cholesterol-protective benefits. EVOO is also rich in Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and supports the health of our skin.

Greek yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is a source of calcium and protein. Importantly, it’s a fermented food. Fermented foods have been demonstrated to be greatly beneficial to our gut health, which is absolutely crucial for our overall health and wellbeing. Yoghurt is a food source of “live and active cultures”, meaning it’s a probiotic with an undefined microbial content, the ultimate superfood for your gut.


Kiwifruits are high in vitamin C, which supports our immune function and stimulates collagen production. Kiwi fruits are also incredible for our digestion, with studies showing consuming just two has therapeutic effects of relieving constipation. This is due to their fibre content and the natural digestive enzyme kiwifruits contain, actinidin, which helps break down proteins and facilitates gastric digestion.


The humble oats are rich in fibre, supporting bowel movements and demonstrating cholesterol-lowering effects. Just be mindful of how you prepare them, as adding too many sweeteners can throw off your blood sugar. I recommend adding full-fat Greek yoghurt, blueberries, and cinnamon.


Sardines are a rich source of calcium and are high in omega-3-fatty acids, providing powerful anti-inflammatory effects.


Is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Adding black pepper to turmeric drastically increases the bioavailability of curcumin, the active component of turmeric, which helps the absorption of turmeric.


Vinegar helps stabilise our blood sugar, which means sustained energy, no 3pm crashes and no brain fog. Dressing your salads in lots of vinegar and EVOO and consuming at the start of your meals, before you eat your carbohydrates, is a great tool to utilise these effects.

For more reach out via the form below – and find out more about the MHQ Body Composition Program starting October 2023.

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MHQ Kitchen: Sarah’s Morning Margarita

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

According to MHQ Body Composition Coach Sarah Barty, having a consistent morning routine is super important:

“It sets you up for a productive and positive start to the day.

“Win the morning, win the day” as the saying goes.

For me, the Morning Margarita is a non-negotiable. Even when I travel, I make this drink every day, and have it first thing upon waking.

This gentle tummy tonic helps to cleanse your digestive system of any nasty bacteria that may have accumulated overnight (which helps to get rid of that “morning breath” feeling) and helps to prepre your digestive system for…digestion!

The ACV helps to stimulate your liver and remove/ prevent stagnation in your digestive system. It also contains antioxidants and B vitamins!

Lemon juice has long been used in weight loss and detoxification protocols, for its ability to aid in digestion.

The salt adds all-important minerals to the concoction.

To make:

Half-fill a glass with boiling filtered water

Add 5-10 twists on the salt grinder of Himalayan/Celtic Salt

Add 1/2 a lemon juiced with 15ml of apple cider vinegar

Stir to dissolve the salt, and top with cold filtered water

Drink immediately.


Love your guts!”

🦁 Coach Sarah Barty

Mark’s Kitchen – Chicken Hotpot

A super easy, lean and light chicken dish and perfect post-workout protein meal by Mark Glanville.


Recipe for two (Mark’s a big eater!). 

1. Lightly season six chicken drumsticks skin on or off with salt

2. Brown drumsticks in olive oil in oven dish/French oven turning occasionally

3. In the meantime thinly slice two carrots, cut one brown onion into thin wedges, and slice two cloves of garlic

4. Once browned, remove chicken and place aside, add other ingredients to stockpot with olive oil, and simmer on a gentle heat until onions are translucent

5. Add one heaped teaspoon of cumin and one smoked paprika and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes)

6. Add chicken to pot, along with one cup chicken stock, two tablespoons caramelised balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer.

7. Cover with lid and place in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with Basmati or brown rice and steamed greens, sautéed kale.


Prefer a vegetarian option?

Substitute the chicken with tofu, mushroom or Borlotti beans.


Mark Glanville is a co-founder & manager of Movement HQ Fitness Centre in Frenchs Forest Sydney and has been a Personal Trainer and group fitness coach since 2001. Before that, he worked in London, Scotland and Sydney as a high-end chef.