Staying active during Christmas not only reduces your chances of gaining weight, but it also helps to energise you, reduces stress levels, and it gives you a break from the mad pre-Christmas dash. Christmas can be a busy time for us, and it’s a time of indulgence. However, it’s still important to mind your physical and mental health during Christmas. You should keep making yourself, your fitness and your health a priority. Feeling overwhelmed by trying to fit it all in? Christmas shopping, partying, friends, family, AND the gym? If you stop pre-Christmas, you will lose a lot of fitness gained over the year; this will be demotivating for you and make it much harder to pick it all up again in the New Year.
Remember, the busy Christmas period is only a few short weeks. Don’t ditch the gym altogether, as the benefits of keeping exercising are huge. Keep focusing on building muscle and strength, and keep working on your fitness now. So, make it easy for yourself, cut yourself some slack and make time for yourself – don’t stop exercising before Christmas. Instead, make a point of enjoying your gym sessions. You have the choice to make your sessions shorter and punchier, or you can choose to take it easier yet keep exercising.
Here are 3 ideas for staying ahead of the Christmas bloat this year:
Plan and optimise your workout sessions.
Christmas is a really busy time of year, leaving us with not much time to spend in the gym. Now is the time to make your time spent exercising work best for you. Choose and sign up for classes ahead of time; block those times out in your diary now. Rather than relying on endurance sessions, like swimming or running, which tend to take more time, choose HITT classes or other types of exercise that give you more for less time. A good spin or HIIT class might be the right thing for you now. So, get planning now. Keep it going.
Take it Easy in the Gym.
If HIIT or spin classes aren’t for you, that’s perfectly alright. So, while working harder doesn’t sound good, you should still keep yourself going – but take it easier. Active Rest Periods are a valuable tool for maintaining fitness. It is ok to do easier sessions for a few weeks before you pick it up again in the New Year. Even light sessions will maintain fitness nicely during the winter. It’s just important not to stop altogether because you’ll lose fitness and get out of the routine, making it that much harder to start up again after Christmas. Avoid falling into that trap by getting your diary out and planning now. Block times in the week for gym sessions, don’t compromise your health.
Get enough sleep, and relax.
Look after yourself this Christmas. Keeping fit is paramount in self-care. But there are a few other areas you should not neglect to stay well and healthy this Christmas. Catch enough zzz’s. Don’t skimp on sleep; make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. A good night’s sleep boosts your immune system to ward off colds and viruses; it also balances your blood sugars which is important in appetite control and weight gain.
Did you know that your body doesn’t have an inbuilt feeling of thirst? You must train your body to feel thirsty by drinking fresh water regularly throughout the day. We recommend you drink a large glass of water next time you feel peckish and wait 15 minutes before giving in to the urge to eat if it’s not mealtime.
Eat well, and don’t go hungry.
The worst thing for weight gain and appetite control you can do is skip meals. Your body will be hungry and not happy until the next mealtime. Instead, make a point of eating your 3 regular meals, building your diet on fresh vegetables and healthy fruit as snacks. Soup for lunch, a side salad for dinner, and some fruit as snacks are all necessary to keep your body well-nourished. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has remodelled its Food Pyramid to reflect new research findings, help you see how to eat well. Try to skip the worst Christmas foods. This is easier said than done and requires some training or mindfulness around it.
Just think about all the years you have eaten excess sweets, desserts, cheeses, and chocolates during Christmas. You know the taste of these foods; you know they don’t do you any good. Remember how you feel after a heavy meal, bloated and uncomfortable. Now, think of healthy options and try to imagine how they will taste, how they will nourish your body, and how they will contribute to keeping you fit and healthy this Christmas. Keep doing this as you’re travelling to work or to the next Christmas party, and you should feel skipping the unhealthy foods a lot easier this year.