Christmas is often a time for indulgence, escape and relaxation from stressful studies, jobs and just life in general. It is a time to be enjoyed and celebrated, with good food, good drink, family and friends. Does that mean though that you have to give up or take a break from your usual fitness habits?
Often Christmas and New Year’s means closed gyms and trips home which make fitting in those exercise sessions difficult in addition to extreme changes in diet away from your normal choices. Whilst this can be fun, come 2017 it might mean you only have to work that much harder to get back on track for the goals and ideals you have for yourself.
So below are some simple tips and changes that mean that you can pass the festive period, have a great time and still be fresh and ready to hit the gym come January.
- Plan - Make a commitment to stay fit- write out a couple of sessions in advance, be they at home or in the gym. Set dates and times, and commit to do it with someone else if you can so you can keep each other motivated.
- A little is better than nothing- 30 minutes, even ten minutes of exercise is a benefit over none at all; a little can go a long way. Try a high intensity interval training (HIIT) – this can be done in a very short amount of time and gets the heart rate up high for maximum calorie burn and a metabolism boost. You don’t even need any equipment, which is a bonus!
HIIT (Beginners variation in brackets)
Squat jumps (squats) Press ups (from the knees)
Lunge jumps (static lunges) High knees (slow it down)
Mountain climbers Burpees (don’t include jump at the top)
30 sec on/30 sec rest. Repeat 3-5 times depending on fitness level
1 minute rest between rounds.
Or 20 sec on with 10 sec recovery 30/45 sec between rounds.
- Stretching and mobility- Even if you don’t have the time or energy for gym sessions a great way to stay active is some basic stretching every day that your body will thank you for later. Stretching encourages great circulation through improved blood flow and can be an excellent way to relax the mind and reduce stress. Put on some calming music and hold your stretches for at least 20 seconds targeting all the major muscles in the body.
- Stay active and fill your time – Go out for a dance, enjoy a walk/jog- take in the local scenery. Especially between the two big celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s. In addition, a boxing day/new year’s day run or walk with the family can be a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Walking is great for circulation.
- Be adaptable - If you are going home for Christmas away from your local gym. Sign up for a class near you, buy a day pass or two for a gym or work out at home. Go for a bike ride or a swim. Where there is a will there is always a way.
- Post alcohol workout- Maybe the last thing you feel like doing. But a quick workout is actually a great hangover cure, especially if you have a headache. However if you’ve had no sleep – GO BACK TO BED. Your body needs to recover.
- Stay hydrated- with the best zero calorie drink there is. With over indulgence in food and drink, it’s easy to forget about everyday habits like drinking water. However, frequent glasses will give your more energy and keep you active as well as flushing out toxins. Furthermore, the more hydrated you are, the fuller you’ll feel and the less food you will want to consume.
- Wake up the right way - Begin each day by having a big glass of warm water with lemon squeezed in to kick start your metabolism. Follow this with a healthy breakfast. Refuelling and levelling out your blood sugar levels makes you less likely to graze during the day. In addition, you will have more energy and therefore be more likely to be active. Stick with healthy choice breakfasts rather than sugary cereals to keep you going for longer: Eggs, (scrambled, without milk, poached or in omelette form with added vegetables, avocado, salmon, oats and fruits are all good options.
- Don’t over indulge too early in the Christmas season – (Everything in moderation) A lot of people think that as soon as the calendar hits the 1st of December that’s reason enough to treat themselves to copious amounts of sugary drinks, alcohol and food for a whole month. Unfortunately there are consequences to this. Go for quality over quantity. Enjoy the great foods in moderation and exercise portion control in the few days around December 25th in
- Avoid the festive lattes - and stick to your usual coffee. An Americano, flat white or cappuccino are better choices. While enjoyable the additional calories in a festive drink can be pretty astronomical (often more than a quarter of your recommended daily amount) – that’s a lot of empty calories. As well as this there is usually an extremely unhealthy amount of sugar ranging anything from 6g-25g. 5g of sugar is one teaspoon, so you do the maths…
- Consider healthy alternatives - You can still enjoy food with some useful swaps. Cow’s milk – swap for – almond milk, coconut, or choose the whole milk over skimmed as it has more nutrients.)
Olive oil (healthy in cold pressed form for salads and bread. But once exposed to high heat its molecular structure changes to make it less healthy – swap for – coconut oil, hempseed oil, avocado oil.
Sugary Yoghurts – swap for – Greek/natural yoghurt (naturally occurring fat is better than the processed sugar in other yoghurts.)
Crisps – swap for – Popcorn (lower in calories and oil.)
White bread/Pasta – swap for – wholemeal bread/pasta (higher in nutrients, lower in sugar.)
Fruit juices (in particular from concentrate) – swap for – actual fruit (more fibre and less sugar.)
Milk chocolate/white chocolate – swap for – dark chocolate at least 70% cocoa (lots of fibre, iron and magnesium, high in antioxidants. In moderation it is a recommended treat.)
And last but never least.
- Take some time for yourself- it’s important all year round to look after yourself both mentally and physically. Whatever makes you happy, whatever your passions are. Make time for it. Reading, writing, listening to or playing music, meditation and yoga are all great ways to relax and promote positive thinking. Take some time for and create a set of positive affirmations, plan for your healthy journey into 2017 and support friends and family to encourage their happiness to.
Be gentle on yourself, relax and enjoy your holidays. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do over indulge. Your only human, just be ready to get back on course in the New Year. Reintroducing your training sessions and making healthy food choice to get the best start you want.
Merry Christmas from all of us here at King’s Sport Health & Fitness