Food, drink and more food. The Christmas period is probably the hardest time of the year to stay fit. The booze-filled month leaves you exhausted, stuffed and ready for the January detox. But you don't have to skip on the mince pies or turn down a glass of bubbly during your Christmas dinner. So how do you stay fit at Christmas?
The thought of a Christmas diet doesn't particularly sound appealing, you can (shock) still enjoy the festive month without being that boring guy that needs to 'eat clean to stay lean'. Even for the fitness obsessed ones, the temptations are endless. So if a fit Christmas is on the cards, we've got a few tips to successfully staying fit at Christmas.
How To Stay Healthy At Christmas
So, you want to get fit not fat this month, but you don't want to miss out on the food, the drink and the general festive spirit. Staying healthy at Christmas isn't as hard or as boring as you may think. With a few tips and new habits to pick up on, you won't be having to head to the gym every day or spending January eating kale or drinking weird coloured 'nutritious' smoothies.
What To Eat To Stay Healthy And Fit
If you really think about it, the food around Christmas isn't actually that bad. It's the portion sizes that seem to get to us. You may be looking forward to the pigs in blankets (why this is only saved for Christmas day, I don't know), but you don't have to pile seven on your plate. Keep things realistic and enjoy the food in moderation.
The 'but it's Christmas' mentality needs to be rethought, as if you're serious about staying fit during the holidays, you need to start thinking about what you're eating. This doesn't mean you have to turn down all the festive foods, just control the balance between the healthy and unhealthy choices. Instead of creating a mountain of potatoes on your plate, stock up on the veg. Brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips - they're all part of the Christmas diet.
Don't Go Back For Seconds
It may seem like a good idea at the time, and yes the food does still smell amazing, but do you really need to be left slumped on the sofa moaning about how much you've just eaten? You want to enjoy the food and not feel like you're going to vom because of how much you've managed to get through. As well as not going up for extras, when eating, take your time. Eating slower will not only lead to better meal satisfaction, but you'll better your digestion and actually realise when you feel full up. No-one likes feeling uncomfortably over-stuffed, so knowing when to call it quits is always best.
Don't Skip Meals
Skipping meals because you want to 'fill up' on the Christmas buffet or devour an entire plate of roast potatoes isn't going to go down to well. You need to keep your metabolism going and you need to stick to the routine of having three, well balanced meals a day. Most social meetings don't disrupt your breakfast and lunches, so keep these healthy and planned. This way you can make sure you're getting all the nutrition you need from these two meals. If you have yet another Christmas dinner or you're meeting your mates at the pub, you can still join in and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty that you ate a load for lunch.
Drink In Moderation
When it comes to keeping fit at Christmas, alcohol and other festive drinks seem to be everywhere and involved in everything you do, which is both a blessing and a curse. These liquid calories usually don't seem to be taken into consideration as much as your food intake but they can be the aspect that creeps up on you the most. Downing seven pints on a night out can add up to a whole days recommended calorie intake - which is a lot when you start to think about it.
So you don't have to stop drinking completely, just switch up your usual drink for something that's a little better. Spirits are a good option as they usually don't contain as many calories as wine or beer do. Be careful when it comes to choosing the mixer though as this is what can also rack up the calorie intake. Diet soda or tonic are healthier alternatives if you don't want to be fat at Christmas.
Drink Lots Of Water
A fairly obvious one, but one we always seem to forget. Flushing out the toxins and curing any unwanted hunger feelings, drinking a glass of water regularly will help you stay fit at Christmas. As well as keeping you hydrated and healthy, the water is sure to help you treat that banging hungover head you have while sitting at work.
Christmas fitness doesn't mean you do nothing for the entire month and then go all out when it comes to January. You need to stick to a good pattern. Everyone has that mind set of 'this year I'll join the gym and actually go this time', but we all know that after the first few weeks you'll give up and 'try again next year'. Even for the fitness fanatics, getting to the gym four or five times a week is unlikely, especially when you have Christmas parties and family dinners every day of the week.
Stick To A Realistic Workout Routine
Obviously, if you're a gym goer already, sticking to your usual routine can seem difficult. Set yourself realistic goals instead of thinking that you'll go everyday. Going for half an hour to an hour just three days a week will leave you feeling satisfied and happy, rather than being disappointed when you missed your fifth two hour workout that the week. You still need time to socialise and not miss out on the fun, but you can't completely abandon your workout ethic.
Work On The Muscle
Stick to your strength and muscle workouts, because loosing any muscle mass will counteract all the hard work you've put in all year. Ten to fifteen minutes of cardio at the beginning of each workout can easily be enough for the festive season. Once the cardio is over, focusing on arm, back and leg muscles for half an hour can conclude the workout. You haven't over done it and you still have time to see your mates after.
Think about what time of the day you do the workouts as well as what you do in them. Morning workouts while everyone's still asleep and hungover won't have you feeling like you're missing out, plus it's always a good idea to sweat out the alcohol you drank the night before.
Your Christmas routine will certainly be different to the one you do during the rest of the year, but you need to make the most of the time you do have available to workout. Planning in advance will make sure you're prepped and ready to get it done. This will keep you motivated and will prevent lack of concentration or wasting any time.
Biceps and triceps are very resilient muscle groups which recover very quickly, so you need to push yourself and go for all sorts of high intensity training techniques. To make the most of your arm workouts, you need to go in hard, otherwise the session will feel like like it was wasted. Your back muscles shouldn't be neglected over the Christmas period as this is what helps you with your posture. You don't want to be one of the guys with big arm muscles and slouched over shoulders, so make sure your back is always included in your arm workouts.
Abs and legs can be done in a separate session. Squats and sit ups may not be your favourite thing to do, but you don't want to be that guy that's invisible from the waist down, so at least give it a go. When it's leg day, you actually start to build more muscle, and because the legs and bum are some of the bigger muscles in the body, you actually burn a lot more calories because it requires more energy. As well as a good calorie burner, your legs and core provide you will a lot of power for when you're heavy lifting - so your bench presses and bicep curls are pushed by the muscle you have in your lower half. If that doesn't convince you to start appreciating leg day, then I don't know what will.
8 Ways to Keep Fit During the Festive Period
- The food will be tempting, but don't over do it on portion size and the amount of meals you have a day.
- Seconds may sound very appetising, but think about how full you actually are and don't rush into any overeating.
- Christmas routines shouldn't be excessive. You still want to enjoy the social season, so limit yourself to around three workouts a week.
- Set realistic workout goals, balance your time well and remember that you're only human.
On That Note
Staying fit during the holidays isn't as hard and time consuming as you may think, so fitting in all the necessary pub trips and family dinners isn't going to be a problem. You don't have to head to the gym every time you hit up the buffet, and turning down all the Christmas treats that are floating around won't need to be sacrificed. Following these tips to staying fit at Christmas will have you entering the New Year in full fitness force, so forget about the 'oh it's Christmas' excuse because it can be done.