Christmas is steadily approaching and it's the time of year that's notorious for having people not only ruin their usual diets, but also make them gain a few pounds too. It's one of the most busy holiday seasons of the year, forcing you to skip workouts, preparing your meals, go to social gatherings and eat non-diet food, and also opt for easier yet way less healthy solutions than cooking up something healthy in your own kitchen when having to eat for the rest of the day after any of these events. It is generally accepted that an excessive intake of calories or over-eating is the main cause for weight gain, but it's also because of a lack of physical activity and exercise.
Many individuals tend to set aside their fitness and health goals during Christmas in the belief that they simply do not have the time to follow through with their usual routines. Enter the feeling of guilt and and the picture of you looking yourself in the mirror, coming to a realisation of the few extra pounds you've put on as a result of setting your goals aside, and we have the same old story that is also the reason for all of the gyms being jam-packed with new members right after New Year's.
Always keep in mind that you can in fact stay fit and healthy while enjoying the Christmas time with your loved ones. Here are some tips that might help you do just that:
How To Stay On Track With Your Health and Fitness Goals This Christmas
1) Eat Before You Head Out
If you are on a diet plan or have specific meals that you usually eat during the day, make sure to eat them just like you always do. Treat every day of Christmas like any other day of the year when it comes to eating. If you eat your meals just like you do usually, you won't be tempted to over-indulge and thus take in an excessive amount of calories from non-diet foods when going to social events during Christmas.
2) Choose Wisely When Going For Sweets and Treats
Make sure that you go for the treats that are not readily available for the rest of the year when satisfying your sweet tooth. You probably have your favourite seasonal candy or sweets type of food that you always indulge on during Christmas time, so make sure you limit yourself to one or two, maybe three different types of sweets during this month, depending on appetite and self-control of course. If you only have one to three different types of sweets that you allow yourself to eat during December, you are most likely not going to do any damage eating any of them.
3) Avoid Skipping Meals
Just like it was mentioned in the first tip of this list, make sure that you don't skip out on any of your usual meals; especially not breakfast. Many people go with the logic that if they skip some of their usual meals, it will make up for the treats they consume later or have consumed earlier in the day. This could make sense from a calorie counting perspective depending on who you are and how much you usually eat, but in most cases by far, following this logic is only going to lead to counterproductive results.
4) Drink With Moderation
Liquid calories are always an enemy, but especially during the holidays where you might substitute sweets for any of these. Beverages such as alcoholic drinks, sodas or juices for example, contain far more calories than most people would consider them to do, and thus they are one of the most vicious pit-falls that one can experience during Christmas time. Alcohol and muscles are not good friends by any means either, so if your primary fitness goals involve building muscle, you should shy away from consuming too much alcohol during the holidays.
5) Stay Physically Active
Performing your usual workout routine(s) even during Christmas time is of course the most optimal thing to do, but even for the best, this does simply turn out to be impossible to do sometimes. When this happens, aim to walk more than you usually do, park your car away from wherever you are going, and use the stairs instead of the elevator when you face the opportunity.
6) Get Up and Out of the House
Do your best to make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where the whole family is involved. Something simple as going for a walk around the block or through the city to have a look at the Christmas decorations with the family is usually sufficient, but you have the opportunity to engage in a snowball fight or take the children to the park and play, your chances of burning more calories are far better, plus you will have everyone entertained while doing so without you sounding the health-nut of the family that does not tolerate a moment of rest even during the holidays.
7) Avoid Skipping Workouts
You should of course always aim to perform your strength and/or cardiovascular training sessions in order for you to maintain that shape and physique you've worked so hard for. Make use of the food you've consumed during the holidays; you will most likely have more calories in your system, so if you can't hit that PR you've been wanting to hit or if you can run those few extra miles you've been striving to do for the past month's time. In fact, working out right before going to eat a big meal is going to prime your body to make the best use possible use of the calories you're going to consume, so if you can find a gym that is not closed, hit a workout before you enjoy yourself at the social event later.
8) Set Realistic Goals For Yourself
Be realistic with yourself. If you know that your Christmas season this year is simply going to be so busy that you are unable to perform your usual workout routines, set realistic objectives for yourself in regard to exercise. A good rule of thumb could be doing a minimum of half an hour a day, whether it would be cardiovascular exercise or weight training. Just set a realistic minimum for yourself and don't be afraid to switch your workout routines up a little to be sure that you're going to make it in time. Fx, if you know you'll be able to finish your usual weight training session in 45 mins. but can't squeeze your half hour of cardio in there, try shortening your rest periods between sets while strength training and maybe doing some HIIT cardio afterwards. That way you will keep the intensity and your heart rate up, burn more calories and save time.
9) Eat Less and More Frequently
As stated in tip no. 1 and 2 on this list, make sure you have smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day before you go to the big dinner with your family and friends. You could perhaps also make sure that your meals only contain protein and fats to save some calories for the big feast later. If you still have hours in the day after the dinner is over, simply have one or two more of the small, low-carb meals and have a walk before going to bed at night.
10) Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water will help you stay satiated and hydrated, which can in turn help prevent over-indulgence at social gatherings and even prevent a possible hangover if you decide to have fun drinking alcohol. A good rule of thumb is to always keep in mind that more water in means more water out. If you do not make sure to stay hydrated, you will likely hold more water and feel more bloated as a result of not drinking enough and eating all of the Christmas food.
11) Prioritise Your Workouts
A good strategy is to do your workouts earlier in the day when the people who could hit you with the "Oh, come on! It's Christmas!" are still asleep. If you can manage, you could potentially do cardio in the morning and hit a workout with the weights later on in the day. If you can do that, there is no damage done by enjoying a nice, big Christmas dinner with friends and family later on in the day what so ever.
12) Enjoy Yourself
It IS Christmas. Enjoy yourself. Spend time with loved ones and make sure you do have some foods that you do not eat on a regular basis. Always make sure that your diet plans are realistic, so that if you do miss out on a meal or a workout etc., you're not going to feel awfully bad and binge eat to make yourself feel better temporarily - it's just going to become a bad spiral and ruin all of the plans you had to stay in shape this Christmas.