Stay in shape at Christmas
The festive period is a time to relax, unwind and spend quality time with your family and friends.
As a personal trainer, you may be thinking this is going to be another speech telling you how you’ll need to trim the fat off your turkey, stick to green veg, and steer well away from any Christmas pudding & mince pies.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. It really depends on where you’re at in your journey.
Are you on the naughty or nice list?
Have you had an excellent year where you’ve eaten well, trained hard and regularly and maintained consistently good habits! or have you done some or none of the above If you are on the nice list go ahead, enjoy yourself and live a little!
But what if you are on the naughty list had a bad year, eaten terribly and barely moved? or maybe you are just starting your journey to be healthy and improve your fitness?
If this sounds like you, then you might need to be more mindful, because what you can get away with when they’re lean, versus being out of shape is the difference can be tremendous.
If you fall into the naughty group, then these tips will help keep you on track during the Christmas period, 7 still allowing you to enjoy yourself.
1. Stay Hydrated
While this is something you need to focus on year-round, around the festive period the need for hydration becomes even more critical.
Water will help mitigate the delirious effects of alcohol, as well as squash any cravings.
If you’ve got a potentially heavy night ahead of you, always, always go to the event hydrated, and stay hydrated throughout and after.
You’ll feel a lot better for it, and be much less tempted by the excess around you.Try having one glass water for every alcoholic drink you have, have 2 large pints of water after the night out and two more int he morning.
2. Don’t Skip Meals
One of the worst things you can do is go to a party with delicious foods around you when you’re hungry.
It’s a recipe for disaster, and will only lead to bingeing.
That’s why one of the best tips we give to clients is to focus on protein and fibre intake on the day.
Before going out, a protein shake with some nuts is a great snack to help stabilize blood sugar and reducing cravings. If you your not into shakes then a high protein and fat meal would be best such as eggs and toast with avocado or smoked salmon
3. Watch Out for Liquid Calories
We’re not expecting you to turn down Christmas drinks, but what you need to be aware of is how quickly calories can escalate when alcohol is involved.
This is why it’s best to avoid mixers and stick to clean spirits or a few small glasses of quality red wine.
Given the number of drinking opportunities you’ll have over this festive period, pick your nights wisely as too many nights of heavy drinking can quickly undo a lot of your hard work. Also try to have low calories drinks like bottles of beer instead of pints, gin or vodka with tonic or processo instead white wine all lower in calories
4. Indulge Only in Festive Foods
It’s one thing eating a little too much Christmas pudding, but another if you’re following it up with a trip to McDonald’s.
The key with this time of year is to set realistic dietary goals.
Unless you have an impending photo shoot deadline in January, totally restraining yourself from some treats will only lead to you cracking and inevitably bingeing.
A good tactic is to select the treats wisely, and pick foods only available at Christmas time, not readily available all the time.
Of course, you still have to exercise a little portion control.
5. Train Hard
No matter how busy you may become over the festive period, you absolutely must make training one of your top priorities.
Training hard will keep you insulin sensitive, burn a ton of unnecessary calories and keep your metabolism ticking over.
While it may not be the time to set any personal bests, plan on doing something active every day – even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
This could be some hill walking, a bodyweight circuit at home, or even just a fast-paced walk. It doesn’t have to be limited to the gym – the key is that it’s done.
If you are in the gym, a good strategy for the Christmas period is to focus on doing higher reps, with a full range of motion, a mixture of upper and lower body exercises and accumulating as much blood flow as possible.
6. Boost Your Immune System
Falling ill can ruin anyone’s fitness motivations, especially in the winter when we’re all a little more prone to it.
That’s why it’s key we’re doing everything we can to boost our immune system. Given the lack of sunlight supplementing with Vitamin D3 daily is a wise choice. Also a good multi vitamin and vitamin C to keep your energy levels high.
Another solid recommendation would be a high-quality probiotic. Keeping on top of your gut health, during a time where many new foods are introduced, this will reduce bloating and will help keep your immune system functioning well.
7. Plan Ahead Most Important
The key to any fitness goal is planning ahead. The festive period is no exception.
If you’re someone looking to maintain and maybe even progress a little, you need to pick your battles.
What we tell our clients at Ultimate Performance is to grind a little harder in the days between any parties or events, and then enjoy themselves at the function.
This will help create a mini buffer so that any overindulgence (which will happen!) is counterbalanced to some degree.
Trying to avoid these treats will only lead to more stress, so finding a plan to create ‘damage limitation’ is best.
That’s why during times where you’re not doing anything social, lowering your calories through fats and carbs is a good strategy.
How you approach the Christmas period really depends on your goals and where you’re at right now and where you are on your journey.
Regardless of who you are though, the key is to do what makes you happy. Following the tips strike a balance between your fitness journey, and enjoying yourself with a little at Christmas.