I love Christmas, especially now I’ve got kids. While most people look forward to it for others it’s a daunting time of year when it comes to their health and fitness.
Having Christmas in the diary each year generally detracts from people’s progress for at least a couple of months.
The office parties and big day itself not being the main issue, the main issue being the drop in motivation and consistency as whole due to the perceived interruption.
So, my absolutely top tip is to not lose steam in the months that run up to Christmas, keep focussed and you won’t see a big impact.
After all, a couple of high calories days in grand scheme of things won’t matter (if your good the rest of the year)
But here we are 12 days out from Christmas and we need to salvage things and keep on track to give us the best shot for January.
So, let’s look at the top tips!
Control calorie density
Christmas dinner itself isn’t a particularly calorie dense, it is after all mainly vegetables and lean meat. Poor portion control can mean you eat more than you need, but the amount you over eat by won’t generally be drastic.
The big impact here is from the extras, in particular the calorie dense ones. Chocolates, mince pies, salted nuts, crisps, sausages wrapped in bacon, cheese etc
You get the idea.
This for most people where the damage is done, especially as these things tend to be not confined to a single day but spread across many, many days.
Keep these in check by having them out for fewer days, having lower calorie density options available (lean meats, vegetables, fruit, soups etc) and you will see a big difference.
Alcohol in control
Alcohol in the build up to Christmas, through Christmas day and onto New Years is a big dose of additional energy your body has to deal with. But more importantly a lot of loose decision making when it comes to food choices and capacity.
Boozy beverages primarily consist of water, pure alcohol (chemically known as ethanol), and variable amounts of sugars (i.e., carbohydrates); their content of other nutrients (e.g., proteins, vitamins, or minerals) is usually negligible. This is because they don’t really contain any nutrients.
Any calories provided by alcoholic beverages are derived from the carbohydrates and alcohol they contain.
The carbohydrate content varies greatly among beverage types. For example, whiskey, cognac, and vodka contain no sugars; red and dry white wines contain 2 to 10 grams of sugar per litre (g/L); beer and dry sherry contain 30 g/L; and sweetened white and port wines contain as much as 120 g/L. Similarly, the alcohol content varies greatly among beverages, ranging from approximately 40 to 50 g/L in beer and coolers, to approximately 120 g/L in wine and pre-packed cocktails, to 400 to 500 g/L in distilled spirits. An average drink—namely, 5 ounces (oz) of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1.5 oz of distilled beverage—contains 12 to 14 grams of alcohol. Pure alcohol provides approximately 7.1 kilocalories per gram (kcal/g), compared with 4 kcal/g for carbohydrates. Thus, a 12–oz can of beer contains approximately 100 calories.
So yes, there are calories in Alcohol and yes this won’t help.
But your ability to make good decisions when intoxicated is pretty poor (I know you ????) .
To overcome these alcohol related problems you could drink less or hide the high calorie snacks from your drunken self.
I’m not saying you have to go to the gym, there are plenty of other days you can do that the rest of the year. But keeping active and moving over Christmas will help you burn some extra calories and separate you from the snacks, just don’t pack provisions.
I come from an active family and we would always go out mountain biking Christmas eve and for a hike Christmas day, these days with two small children we will still manage a couple of long walks, probably carrying the children and their bikes. Even if mountain biking or hiking isn’t for a you a couple of hours of walking will help reign in the surplus of calorie slightly with a bit of expenditure and knock on effect will be less stored energy (fat).
My last tip and easily the most important one is for next Christmas.
Find a way of eating that you enjoy and can maintain that allows you to achieve your goals, exercise frequently with sessions you enjoy and stick with over the next 12 months FROM NOW.
If you achieve your dream body and ideal level of health and fitness then you will be able to relax more during these times of year without stress or too much damage. The consistent approach and having built positive habits will also really help make negative impact smaller and the bounce back much easier.