How to keep your health and fitness on track over Christmas

Between the mince pies, chocolate selection boxes, and mulled wine, temptation is everywhere over the festive period. This makes it all too easy to think, “it’s December… there’s no point in me sticking to my regular diet and exercise routine when so much nice food and drink is going to be around me. I should just take a small break this month, and try again in the New Year.”

This is a very common way of thinking, and it’s one we can all sympathise with; after all, Christmas is a time for overindulgence! Unfortunately, this is the wrong attitude to have over the festive season, as completely abandoning your health and fitness goals will make it all the more difficult to get back on track and resume your regular routines come January.

The best approach is to scale back on your regular gym sessions (if needed), although you should still be making an effort to keep active, and focus on getting more out of less workouts. Additionally, you shouldn’t feel as though you should avoid the Christmas chocolates completely; it’s all about striking the right balance at the end of the day! As Michele Connolly, Author of How to Be Thin in a World of Chocolate, explains: ““Many people overdo it at Christmas, with the vague plan of undoing the damage from January 1st. This just adds more pressure to an already tense time.”

To help you enjoy the festive season without abandoning your diet and fitness routines, here are our top tips for keeping your health and fitness on track over Christmas…

Eat festive treats in moderation

During the festive season, a lot of us are happy to admit we adopt the ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to treating ourselves. Put simply, this means that we’ll have a few mince pies, tell ourselves that our diet is ruined for the day (or week, or month…), and continue to overindulge. However, the odd mince pie or slice of cake here or there doesn’t mean you should give up on your healthy eating for the rest of the month. The important thing to remember is to eat the sweet treats in moderation, and to balance them with an otherwise healthy diet.

Dmitri Simons from Exercises.com.au also advises: “cut out one meal a day. If you know you’re having a big dinner or lunch, cut out the meal before or after, and just have a vegetable juice or protein shake. This will give you the nutrition you need without overloading your stomach with extra food to digest.” Additionally, another tip is to eat your food slowly (this gives your brain more time to register that you’re full), so wait before deciding to go up and ask for seconds; the craving might pass, and you may find that you don’t want the extra helping of yule log, after all!

Drink plenty of water

Because the symptoms of hunger and dehydration are similar (such as feeling weak and dizzy), thirst is often confused with feeling hungry, and most people will simply eat something instead of thinking to drink a glass of water. So, one way to prevent yourself from overindulging over the festive season is by keeping as hydrated as possible throughout the day.

When you’re busy running errands (such as putting up the Christmas tree and buying presents at the last minute), it can be easy to forget that the average person should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. To make it harder to forget, we recommend taking a refillable water bottle with you when you leave the house, as well as using an app to track your daily water intake.

Another useful tip to help you keep on track of your health and fitness over Christmas is to alternate between alcoholic beverages and glasses of water when you’re drinking. This will lower your alcohol and fizzy drinks consumption and keep you hydrated, which means you’ll consume less calories and have a much more bearable hangover.

Find extra ways to get up and moving

We get it; with Christmas parties, family gatherings, and everything else filling your diary this month, finding the time to chuck on your trainers and attend the gym can be tricky during the festive season (especially if you go more than 3-4 times a week). However, this isn’t your excuse to put your gym kit into storage until the New Year; instead, you should schedule exercise in around your day, such as a quick yoga session in the morning, or a walk or run after dinner.

Other easy ways to incorporate light exercise into your day is by parking further away from the store when you go Christmas shopping, getting of the bus one stop early (or not getting the bus at all, and walking instead), or taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Remember; a small amount of exercise is better than none at all.

Why not just go the whole hog and go away for Christmas. Skiing or Snowboarding will help you burn the calories in a fun way, with the guaranteed bonus of a white christmas!

Catherine Basu, Founder of Fit Armadilo, says: ““Start small; something is better than nothing! When our schedules are packed, we often ditch fitness because we think we need to spend an hour or more for it to have an impact. However, that’s simply just not true.”

Get more out of your gym workouts

While we’re on the subject of exercise, you shouldn’t abandon going to the gym completely over the festive season if it can be avoided! Instead, if you usually attend gym sessions and classes around 3-4 times a week, we’d advise reducing this to 2-3 times a week, though you should aim to get more out of these workouts.

To do this, we’d advise completing higher intensity exercises during these sessions; for example, run on the treadmill, cycle using the exercise bike, or even attend a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class. When lifting weights, you should also lift them slowly, and choose heavier weights.

It is definitely possible to live a healthy life at your ideal weight. Maintaining the ideal food intake and exercise program is essential, however having the right mindset is critical. Vance Larson, has some wonderful ideas in how to tune into how you feel, in terms of your energy and inches lost when it comes to losing weight. He shares his practical ideas in Significant Weight Loss: Real Talk for Losing 100 Pounds ~ Deborah Fairfull, Blisspot.com founder.

Finally, you should set goals (such as aiming to complete 30 minutes of exercise a day, or attending 3 gym sessions a week), and book fitness classes in advance; that way, you’re far more likely to stick to your word and go to them!

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