The festive season is once again upon us, and a range of tasty indulgences will soon be tempting you into abandoning your healthy living regime. Whether you are trying to drop a few pounds or you’re keen to maintain your current weight during Christmas, you can achieve all your health and fitness goals without sacrificing your turkey, mince pies and trifle. With just a little planning and some self-discipline, you can eat, drink and be merry whilst staying in shape.
Be an Early Riser
The Christmas period can be hugely hectic for some people. Whether you have festivities to attend or extra work to complete before the Christmas break, you might worried that there will be very little time for exercise. But all you need to do is get up 30 minutes early, and squeeze in your daily workout before you even hit the shower. You can then enjoy the day ahead without feeling guilty or worrying about your long-term fitness goals.
You don’t need to exercise for long periods to benefit from fat-burning activity, but you do need to be doing the right types of exercise. Concentrate on short periods of intense physical activity rather than one-hour marathons in the gym. Research has shown that 20 minutes of intense physical activity burns more calories than 40 minutes of exercise at a steady rate.
Whether you are on a bike or a treadmill, break down your workouts into small chunks. Interval training involves increasing the intensity of your exercise gradually – making sure you hit your maximum exertion level at least three times during a workout. You can track your activity levels on a daily basis with gadgets, such as the Fitbug fitness tracker, which stores information on your activity and presents it via an easy-to-use app.
Don’t Deprive Yourself of Festive Treats!
A lot of people fall off the health and fitness wagon at Christmas because they try to deprive themselves of all treats. As long as you are controlling portion sizes and making the right eating choices, you should be able to maintain both a healthy weight and fitness level during the festive period.
When attending Christmas buffets, try to opt for healthier nibbles such as unsalted nuts, dried fruit and pretzels. But limit your consumption of chocolate, crisps, pastry and cheese. Just a few nibbles here and there can add up to a few inches on your waistline come January, so think to yourself as you reach for that third mince pie: ‘Do I really need to eat this?’
A lot of people make the mistake of skipping meals – particularly breakfast – so they can indulge in festive treats at parties and gatherings. This is the worst thing you can do, as depriving yourself of much-needed calories in the morning could make you more hungry later in the day – giving you cravings for sugary and fatty foods.
Always start the day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast – porridge with cranberries and figs is a great festive breakfast that is packed with vitamins and energy. And if you want to ensure you have a full stomach before going to Christmas events, eat foods that are rich in protein and low in fat beforehand, including lots of chicken breast and white fish.
Enjoy a Tipple, in Moderation
There is nothing wrong with enjoying wine, beer or the odd tipple of your choice at Christmas, but you should be aware that a pint of premium lager contains roughly the same number of calories as a deep-fried, sugared doughnut. Work out the calories you’re likely to consume from alcohol before you go to Christmas parties, and taken them into consideration when you work out your total calorie intake for that day.
Don’t be afraid to put your hand over your glass at parties and gatherings. Remember, alcohol comes in many forms during the festive period. Whether you are being offered bucks fizz in the morning, mulled wine in the afternoon or eggnog in the evening, the calories can soon add up. Always equate your alcohol to calories, and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
It’s always nice to indulge in a few treats and indulgences over the Christmas period. By keeping a lid on your calorie consumption, exercising every day and limiting your alcohol intake, you should be able to enjoy a very merry Christmas without piling on the pounds.