Staying on track over Christmas

Balancing festive celebrations with exercise goals can be tricky, these tips will help you stay on track

  • 09 December 2020
  • 9 min read
It’s that time of year again when everyone feels like all the hard work they've put in throughout the year to get to where they are now; goes out of the window within a short 2 week window over Christmas. Christmas should be a time enjoyed with family and friends, although it looks like it may be very different this year, so if you are worried about undoing all your hard work, try to incorporate some of the below tips to help you strike a good balance between enjoying time with family & still working towards your fitness goals.

1. Keep your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) up

NEAT is essentially everything you do day to day away from your gym sessions, so walking to and from work (probably the kitchen to the makeshift office at the moment!) any DIY, gardening etc. So, with gyms closed and Christmas genuinely being a time where we stay horizontal for the majority, try to ensure you keep yourself moving and encourage the family to get out for long walks along the seafront or into the countryside. Not only will this be good for your physical health, but mentally as well.

 

2. Strike the right balance between nutritionally dense food and the celebration chocolates

It is inevitable that most of us will be indulging in a little more sweet treats than we normally would, as they seem to be everywhere you look over Christmas! You should never look to ban any food completely, this will only likely lead to a binge when you can’t resist the craving any longer which will be more detrimental to your goals than incorporating the chocolates into your diet regularly. For the big roast dinner we look forward to all year, try filling your plate with plenty of green veggies, these are full of nutrients and low calorie. Don’t forget to still enjoy the staple roast potatoes, pigs in blankets etc! Just be mindful that they are a lot more calorie dense. A good guide would be to try and incorporate an 80:20% split with nutrient dense food and “junk”.

 

3. Stay Hydrated

Around 70% of our body is water and dehydration is the main cause of the dreaded hangovers. Aim for between 2-4 litres of water each day and a glass between each alcoholic beverage if possible. When you feel hungry, it may also just be that you are dehydrated; so try having a pint of water and waiting for 30 minutes to see if you are still hungry before eating.

 

4. Avoid snacking and prepare mindfully

If you know you are going to be having a big Christmas dinner with a few celebratory drinks; account for this during the week by reducing the volume of some of your meals. Try and keep protein consistent as that is important to supplement your training regime; but lowering the carbohydrate & fat level will help lower the calories and allow you to have more in the “bank” for the big Christmas dinner & drinks.

 

5. Be smart with your alcoholic beverages

Alcohol is, unfortunately; empty calories! Which means they have no nutritional value. However, some are less calorific than others so being smart about your choices can help keep the calories down. Just 1 pint of beer can be anywhere between 150-250kcal. This may not seem a lot but will certainly add up over the week. Spirits with a low kcal mixer or prosecco are your go to drink if you want to keep calorie consumption down! They can vary between 80-130 kcal each.

 

In summary, Christmas is a time to be enjoyed and you certainly don’t want to spend the festive period worrying too much about what you are going to eat and drink. We can however implement a few of the tips above to help damage limitation and ensure we are still in a good place come 2021. So keep up with the home workouts over Christmas as we are all pro’s now at getting inventive with exercise at home; but also enjoy some well deserved time off with the people closest to you and don’t feel guilty. Rest and recovery is just as important as your training regime.

 

If you have any questions or are worried about derailing your progress over the coming weeks, feel free to drop me an email at lee.mccanny@port.ac.uk.

 

Here’s to a better 2021!

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