How to stay on track with your fitness goals over Christmas
Another year has gone, and Christmas is finally here! It is the most magical time of the year when the office parties, Christmas’ shopping with an extra treat of your favourite Pumpkin Spice Latte, mince pies and
mulled wine, to name a few, are back. This is truly the season for indulgences. And, when you are busy shopping, baking, and attending holiday parties, it can be hard to prioritize staying active.
Whenever we decide to put off our tasks in favour of instant gratification, we develop bad habits and lose the discipline we need to succeed. Fitness buffs and health-conscious eaters can easily slip off the wagon
during December because there are many temptations at hand. But be sure that it is possible to enjoy Christmas while staying active and keeping up with your goals.
Start by accessing the situation before the holiday begin and find a balance that will suit you. Before you allow the festivities to take over your already busy schedule, review the possibilities, make a clear plan,
and stay focus. For many, the holiday also brings more free time and less to do then most of times of the year so make the most of this time to stay in touch with your objectives.
Being active shouldn’t be complicated and you certainly don’t need to spend hours in the gym. Below are some suggestions to help you strike a good balance between enjoying time with family and still working
towards your fitness goals.
Set realistic goals and plan ahead
Christmas not only comes with some free time to relax but also, brings chaos to many when things are left until the last minute. One of the best ways to ensure success, even amid a chaos, is to set realistic goals,
have a plan and stick to it.
As the old say, “Every little count!” Remember to keep sight of your fitness goals but don’t be too hard on yourself. Consistency is the key to succeeding towards your fitness goals even if life events come your way
so try your best to find a balance that works for you. Set aside time for:
Bear in mind that each of these objectives may crossmatch depending on what you choose to do for each of them. For example, going for a walk first thing in the morning could be also an alternative for relaxation
and socializing when bringing a friend with you. Or why not plan a shopping trip where you would walk to the shops instead of using your car.
Planning allows you to fit in the workouts you want over the holiday period, but you’re also able to be present for all the festive fun. It may not be possible for you to fit in all your regular workouts every week, so try to prioritize your favourite workouts instead. Be tactical about the days and time you reserve for exercise, and how you do them. Make plans for a shorter booster session other than a longer one.
If you are traveling, don’t forget to pack your favourite gym gear and make sure to check out the space available for your workouts. If the hotel room or your friend’s house hasn’t got much space, head outside
for some fresh air.
The same is valid for your meals. It is clear that you will be tempted to indulge yourself so making smart food choices throughout the day may help you to avoid piling up the extra calories during the Christmas
Start the day early and keep your NEAT
Start your day with a workout before the demands of work start to pile up. If you know you are having a busy night out or a boozy meal, plan to exercise earlier in the day so you don’t miss out on the training. This will help you feel more productive and energized throughout the day.
Make sure to add the time in the diary to exercise. If you are short on time, utilize your workout window more efficiently by planning a more intensive workout. There are different options you can go for, for
example, by using HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to train a whole- body workout at a short period of time or spreading your current plan into one muscle group with no more than 3 exercises per day.
Working out from home is also another great alternative as you can significantly cut down on the time you would usually spend travelling to the gym. Not sure how to exercise at home? You can find great home
Going to the gym doesn’t have to be your only way to stay active. Research shows that you can use many of the hours in a day in your favour. You can carry on being active and burn those unfavourable calories after that yummy mince pie by using a simple strategy called NEAT. According to Nasm.org, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that does not include sleeping, eating, or exercise; and ranges from simple things like standing and fidgeting to moving about.
It is to use all the hours in a day that you don’t specifically exercise, in your favour. From standing while reading an email at work to getting off two stops earlier than your usual arrival point, any DIY – how many
times would you climb a ladder to place the Christmas lights over the roof? – to standing for hours cooking your favourite Christmas dinner. Everything and anything that can get you moving is accountable.
Buddy with a friend and get the steps in
At a time that socializing is one of the top priorities in your list, combining your workouts with a seeing a friend or family member could be a great way to ensure you stick to your fitness goals.
You can make good choices when you have an accountability partner to help you through the tough days. Commit to working out together, dance like no one’s watching, or simply arrange to meet up at your local
country park for a long walk to get the steps in. This will make you feel better and more in control over the Christmas food extravaganza.
Strike the right nutritional balance
Christmas is one of the most special times of the year particularly when comes to food and drinking. Between nutritionally dense food and the celebration chocolates, it is hard to resist to all the indulgent stuff. But despite of the desire to eat as if it the last day of your life, be mindful towards your choices. Here are some tips to avoid falling off the wagon completely:
- Have most of your nutritious calories in your breakfast and lunch. Lowering the carbohydrate and fat levels will allow to have more to spend on Christmas dinner and drinks.
- Avoid skipping meals as hunger may hit you hard and it will be more difficult not to overeat.
- Try to load up on protein and vegetables first as they will help you feel fuller, and these are full of nutrients and low calorie dense.
- Eat until you’re full, not stuffed. Also, eat slowly and chew everything properly. Take the time to enjoy the food on your plate.
- Make wiser alcohol choices and avoid high calories fermented drinks like beer or cider, as well as, high sugary drinks and cocktails. Alternate between having alcohol and water to stay hydrate and support your liver. See what a serving of alcohol looks like here.
Overall, you should never attempt to totally eliminate any food from your diet because doing so would probably simply cause you to binge when you can no longer control your cravings, which will be more harmful to your goals than consistently eating Terry’s Chocolate Orange in your diet.
During the holiday season, and for those who enjoy having an alcoholic drink here and there, we can’t really expect ourselves to abstain from a glass or two of bubbly, or the extra creamy hot chocolate, completely.
For some is almost impossible, however being mindful is the way to go.
Water is the most important substance in our body and it is often referred to as the “Blood of Life”. Our body is made of approximately 60-70% of water which means we should every day replace around 2.5
litres through ingested liquids and foods to maintain our body optimum functions.
Alcohol is believed to be one of the reasons for dehydration during the festivities. Plus, the busy period shopping, attending parties and seeing family and friends may lead you to forget to add in the extra pints of
water your body need. Due to the accessibility of alcohol use, drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage, will support renal function, aid with hangovers, maintain the system flushing, and help you drink less alcohol by lowering the amount you consume.
Drinking enough of water not only lowers your hunger, but it also stimulates your metabolism, allowing you to absorb the holiday delicacies more quickly and efficiently.
Get in your ZZZ’s
Getting enough sleep has a huge impact on your health and you don’t need to make a big effort to achieve it. This is a critical phase when your body restores itself contributing considerably to your mental and physical
Lack of sleep has a significant influence on what is going on within your body. A poor night sleep affects your performance at work, reduces speed, accuracy, and response time during exercise, and it can also
contribute to poor food choices and overeating owing to a lack of leptin – the hormone that helps you feel satiated after eating.
Even if you know you’ll be staying up later than normal, or you can’t get in your workout or meals for the day, do make sure you get your zzz’s. Setting an alarm for a sensible hour the next morning might also be
beneficial. This does not have to be extremely early, but it can help you avoid sleeping in till midday and, as a result, pushing back your bedtime the next evening.
Go with the flow
Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself together with those you most love. It is a time to celebrate and to bring the feeling of accomplishment for all your hard work throughout the year too so, remember, enjoy these few
days, relax and don’t be too hard on yourself!
Indulging yourself with an extra piece of your favourite Christmas pudding or staying in bed late after a long night partying is not going to ruin all your fitness goals. Overall consistency and moderation will matter more! Whatever happens, show yourself some kindness and simply resume your normal routine the next day as if nothing had happened.
As you begin the New Year, you want to feel good about all the work you have done for the past 11 months. You don’t need to change much. Just keep healthy routines and make some small adjustments during
December, and you’ll be back on track come January.
If you feel like you need more help staying accountable and on track, our Expert Team with be ready to assist you and support during your journey!
Written By Aline: Female fitness expert at MotivatePT – Reps Level 3 Qualified / Pre & Post Natal