Christmas should be a time of happiness, enjoyment, relaxation, and celebration. But, if you have just spent the last 12 months training hard, eating right, and getting into great shape, it could also be a time to dread!
Maybe dread is a bit strong, but Christmas invariably means training less and eating more – the perfect combination for unwanted weight gain.
Use these tried and tested Christmas survival strategies to make sure you come out of the festive season as fit and lean as you were at the start. After all you still want to look you best in all the cheap gym clothes you have purchased in the Christmas sales!
1) Work out at home
Just because the gym is closed for the festive season, doesn’t mean you can’t train. There are lots of other ways to exercise that don’t involve going to the gym. You could go for a run, do some bodyweight exercises like push-ups or squats, slot in a workout DVD, grab your jump rope, or just go out for a walk.
In many instances, after weeks or even months of training, your body will enjoy training differently for a few days. And remember, any training is better than no training for maintaining your fitness and keeping weight gain at bay!
2) Make sensible food choices
Christmas is the time when many people eat way more than normal. It’s like they turn into gluttons! Just because there are more opportunities for eating does not mean you have to over-indulge 24/7.
Exercise some self-control and resist the temptation to eat to excess. By all means enjoy some treats, and eat a little more than normal, but there is no reason to try and eat yourself into a diabetic coma. You don't want your favourite loose fitting vest tops from the likes of Anax Fitness, quickly becoming body hugging tank tops!
Instead, practice sensible portion control, don’t binge on junk, and make sure that at least some of the food you eat is healthy and nutritious.
3) Keep track of what you eat and when
When food is so abundantly available, it’s very easy to eat much more than you realise. A few chocolates here, a couple of cookies there, and the compulsory slice of Christmas cake can soon add up to a huge number of extra calories.
Use a food tracker like My Fitness Pal, or a pen and paper, to record everything you eat. This will make you more aware of the quantity and types of food you eat, and that may be all you need to do to avoid eating more than you should. This is called eating mindfully, and is crucial for successful weight management.
4) Look for ways to be more active
The festive season doesn’t just mean time away from the gym, it often means time off work too. This means it can be all too easy to spend the entire festive season alternating between your sofa and your dining table! Needless to say, such low amounts of physical activity mean that you are much more likely to gain weight.
In addition to working out at home, look for other ways to get active, braking up long periods of sitting. Good options include:
- Playing with your kids
- Gardening or doing DIY
- Active video games like Wii and X-Box Kinect
- Casual games of sport e.g. football with friends
It really doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you try and inject some activity into your day. Every little counts, and it all adds up!
5) Go easy on the booze
For many people, the festive time will always be associated with drinking more alcohol. However, it’s very easy to drink too much, ingesting a whole lot of calories in the process.
Alcohol isn’t the only problem, mixers also contain a lot of calories, and alcohol itself often leads to eating more as it lowers willpower and inhibitions, stimulating your appetite along the way.
Limit alcohol consumption by only drinking with meals, and resist the temptation to drink at any other time. Also consider setting yourself a 2-3 drink limit per day, avoiding high-calorie drinks that, as well as containing alcohol, contain a lot of sugar.
There is no need to go tee-total, but limiting alcohol to just a couple of drinks per day will significantly reduce weight gain, and also ensure you are clear-headed enough to get up, get out, and stay active.
Of course, you COULD just throw up your hands and surrender to the festive season, losing fitness and gaining weight as you do. But then, you’ll just be another one of the people making New Year’s Resolutions to get fit and get back in shape. Or, you could put these tips into action, and start the New Year every bit as lean and fit as you are now.