Christmas and New Year’s wouldn’t be special occasions unless you were allowed to binge and indulge yourself a little. Be it a love for warm mulled wine or a delicious turkey lunch on Christmas day, there’s so much fantastic food to enjoy over the holidays that you might end up putting on a few extra pounds or sinking back into old habits. Before you know it, you’re going to end up with excess weight to shed which you’ve just worked so hard to lose.
If you’re just changing your eating habits now or recently hired a personal trainer to help you get in shape, then the allure of Christmas and the holiday period could put a huge dent in your progress. So to help you out, we’ve put together a couple of tips on how you can stay in shape over the Christmas holidays. Whether you’re just starting out with a new diet and exercise routine or you simply just find it hard to resist eating too many mince pies, these tips will be the perfect guide for you.
Just because it’s the holidays, you shouldn’t stop planning your meals
A vital component of fitness is to plan meals in advance and understand the nutritional content that you receive from each meal you consume. We painstakingly measure out every single meal to ensure that we’re getting the right amount of protein, fat and carbs from each meal, so why does that have to stop during the holidays? You can just as easily measure the nutrients you’re getting from Christmas and holiday meals, and you can even plan ahead so that you can adjust morning and evening meals to coincide with whatever you plan to eat during your celebrations.
In short, don’t just skip planning your meals during the holidays. Take advantage of the many calorie and nutrition counting services out there or alternatively, you could just coincide your celebration dates with your cheat days. Either way you need to think about what your consuming the same as you would usually.
Relaxing with your family is fine, but don’t stay idle for too long
The festive period is a time for relaxation with your friends and family, but that doesn’t mean that you should sit idle for too long. While it’s perfectly acceptable to have a day or two where you can laze around, you shouldn’t get into the habit of sitting at home doing nothing.
Make sure you participate in some activities. If you find it difficult to get your workouts done because you’re not near a gym or because you don’t have the right equipment, then there are things you can. Going for a run, walking after big meals or even using equipment-less workouts that rely on your body and various household objects. There are a surprising number of ways to keep yourself in shape without requiring the use of equipment, and you’d be surprised at just how easy it can be. Even something like doing the dishes or cleaning snow off your roof can be considered a good activity to help you stay in shape.
Use the holiday weather as an excuse to do more exercise
The cold weather is also an excellent excuse for you to get in shape. For instance, there are plenty of chores you can do around the house during the holidays like ploughing snow off your driveway, going out to ice skate, or even just exercising in the cold which can provide a bump in calorie burning.
Your body actually uses a lot more energy when you’re cold. In addition, wearing extra gear like a sweatshirt or hoodie means that you’re putting extra weight on your body, and this can result in more calories burned during something like a run or walk.
Be smart about how many parties you attend
The festive season is going to be filled with Christmas parties. If you’ve received several invitations then it would be wise to carefully consider which parties you’re going to attend. Don’t just visit each one, binge on booze and food and then come back expecting your body to be the same. Instead, select parties to visit and make sure you don’t overeat or consume too much alcohol. If you absolutely need to attend every party then it’s a good idea to practice moderation and don’t let yourself be tempted into binge eating/drinking. Those calories can easily add up and ruin any progress you’ve made over the past few weeks. Also staying motivated is going to be VERY hard if your hungover all the time. Also make sure you are consuming plenty of water throughout the day at these parties because the last thing you want is to dehydrate yourself from drinking too much alcohol.
Utilize high-intensity interval training to help you burn excess body fat
Out of all the exercises that you can perform over the holiday season, high-intensity interval training (or HIIT for short) is arguably one of the better options due to it taking less of your day and being an incredibly efficient form of workout. HIIT can cover a wide range of different exercises, but the main idea is to do lots of intense exercises in a short amount of time. If you aren’t familiar with HIIT training then give this a read.
Just 10 minutes of HIIT can help you burn a significant amount of calories that would rival even two hours of cycling. Not only does it help you burn more fat, but it also helps with muscle growth. Cardio and HIIT can work together very well, so make sure you utilize HIIT as a way to keep your physical activity up over the holidays. It’s not always about lifting weights!
Keep your stress levels in check and find ways to relax yourself
Another important component that will help your Christmas workout routine is to manage your stress levels. Stressing makes your life harder in a number of different ways such as raising your cortisol levels that will affect your insulin, making fat burning a much more difficult process. There are a number of ways to slow down and manage your stress such as taking it easy throughout the holidays, lowering your workload and spending more time with family members by relaxing and enjoying yourself. It’s just as important to schedule rest days as well as all your training.
Don’t be afraid to make substitutes for your favourite holiday food
Nutrition is vital in keeping our bodies fit and healthy. However, you may realize that some of our favourite holiday foods aren’t exactly filled with nutrition, meaning we may need to substitute some types of food for alternatives that are both healthier and lower in calories. You shouldn’t be afraid to make swaps for holiday food, but it may cause problems if you’re cooking for your family or eating a meal with friends. As long as it doesn’t cause too much of an inconvenience for you or the people you’re spending Christmas with, it’s a good idea to think about what substitutes you can make for common holiday foods.
Remind yourself of the goals that you’re aiming for and don’t compromise
Lastly, remember that you’ve set out to achieve your fitness goals and that Christmas shouldn’t be something that stops you from achieving them. Yes, it’s understandable that you want to spend time with your family and also enjoy yourself by eating some delicious food and relaxing with your friends and loved ones, but that doesn’t mean you should compromise by ruining the progress you’ve made this year.
The most important thing is to strike a balance between indulging yourself and keeping your fitness and health in check, this is the key to preserving your gains over Christmas.