Christmas is undoubtedly the most magical time of year – a season filled with festivities, family, friends and most excitingly, food!
From the endless tins of chocolate roses to Christmas pies, the creamy hot chocolates to celebratory champagne, it’s no secret that the 12th month of the year is one of ultimate indulgence. We get it, it’s difficult to resist the 4th serving of mothers homemade Christmas cake or the 5th pint of beer from your overly generous friends – tis’ the season to be jolly after all. However, daily over-eating for a two month period is not healthy nor smart, for any of us!
Christmas is often a time where we excuse ourselves from any exercise or diet plan we once had – even if that means bowing out of the gym 6 weeks prior to Christmas day. Its cold outside so you tuck away your trainers, replace them with fluffy socks and tell yourself that no amount of food can undo the hard work you’ve put into your health and fitness journey so far this year.
Whilst I’m here to be the bearer of bad news and tell you that yes – over indulgence of bad foods and a complete halt on exercise will have its consequences, I have accumulated a list a simple tips and tricks to get you through the Christmas period, foodly satisfied and guilt free.
Tip 1: Remember your goals
The first and possibly most important tip is to remind yourself of your fitness goals – think about how far you’ve come and what you are working towards – the key is to remember these goals throughout the coming weeks. No one wants to spend the month of January undoing the damage of Christmas – its time consuming and with the overflow of “new resolution” members about to enter your usually spacious gym on January 1st, extremely difficult. Get ahead of the game and keep progressing!
Tip 2: Schedule your Sessions
Schedule your training sessions. With Christmas being the most hectic time of year; family gatherings, work parties, last minute shopping, it can seem almost impossible to fit exercise into your busy day. This is where scheduling comes in handy – instead of abandoning your fitness routine altogether, try to adapt your training times around your festive plans. Set aside at least 15 minutes of exercise everyday – even if that’s a 15 minute walk around the block. If your evenings are booked up, get up that small bit earlier and fit in a quick morning session – you’ll thank yourself. If you’re running short on time, consider quick fat-burning HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which burns a crazy amount of calories per minute. Remember, two sessions a week are better than none.
Tip 3: Warm up for Winter
The cold and rainy weather is a common reason why people struggle to make it to the gym during the lead up to Christmas. People often choose to stay in, order their favourite takeaway and roast by the fire all evening – what could be better? Well, consider this – You complete an intense rewarding workout which naturally heats you right up, you then go home to that same crispy fire, hop into your warm pyjamas, tuck into a big fuelling meal and watch your favourite Christmas film, absolutely guilt free. If you really can’t face the cold, remember that a home exercise is as good as any. There is plenty of indoor equipment that can be used to support an excellent workout – buy yourself a set of dumbbells, a resistance band and follow a home workout Youtube video.
Don’t let the weather stop you – after all, exercise is the best way to keep warm during the cold season.
Tip 4: Food Prep & Portioning
“My eyes were bigger than my belly” – a regretful phrase often spoken when we’ve loaded too much food onto our plate and are most likely now struggling with a bad case of “food coma”. Over-indulgence at Christmas may seem inevitable but this doesn’t have to be the case. Don’t worry we aren’t here to rid all the happiness of Christmas by wiping out your foody luxuries, instead here’s something to try: meal planning.
Meal planning is an excellent way to keep your healthy diet on track. If you know you have plans to spend the evening out enjoying a heavy 3 course Christmas dinner, make a conscious effort to prepare healthy breakfast and lunch meals – this way you won’t feel as guilty come dinner time. Alternatively, be mindful of portion size – filling your plate with larger portions of healthy food and smaller portions of unhealthy options will make all the difference.
Tip 5: Learn to say No
Learning to say no – whether that’s saying no to your fifth offering of chocolate pudding or to your 4th night out with that week, resisting temptation is key. This is where tip 1 comes into play – think about your goals. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the fun of party season but remember that small changes can go a long way. Do not go back for seconds. If offered, say no and before you know it the platter is out of sight and out of reach – temptation is now eliminated. On a night out, don’t be afraid to refuse drink offerings from friends or to take breaks from alcohol by substituting your double vodka with a glass of sparkling water and lemon. Drinking a lot of water on a night out will also save you a bad hangover the next morning – you’re welcome!
Let’s face it, the lead up to December 25th is a testing time for us all – and that includes all the fitness maniacs out there. So don’t beat yourself up if your diet or exercise plan fall off track for a couple days. The key is to not give up on your health entirely by waiting out until the new year. Save yourself the hassle now, your “New year, new me” self will thank you.