STAY ON TRACK Don’t fall off the health wagon during the festive season.
Fitness and Wellbeing
Albert Einstein, the clever chap, once defined madness as repeating the same actions and expecting a different result. Many of us have ignored this simple logic when trying to get through the Christmas season without piling on the pounds. We drag ourselves, demotivated and brain-fogged, into a new year wondering where it all went wrong.
To apply Einstein’s logic, we must first accept that something in our approach must change before the outcome will.
I’ve spent quite a few Christmas seasons in which my good intentions have been scuppered by the attraction of a few too many drinks imbibed and treats ingested amidst good company. Yet in the past few years it’s been different.
I’ve put some meat on the bones of my good intentions, and come out the other side of the season in good physical and mental condition. Here, then, are my top tips for a healthful and happy Christmas.
Have a plan
Without doubt this is the most effective thing you can do. Let’s face it, what happens at Christmas comes as no surprise. You already know what you’ll be doing and eating on Christmas Day and over the holidays. You know the days of your Christmas parties and other social engagements. So, a little careful planning around these can help set you up for success. Plan your workouts, your non-seasonal meals and your free time around these events.
Drop the high standards
The Christmas season is not a time for perfection and advancing your fitness gains. A more realistic goal is to maintain your gains while allowing yourself some indulgence.
Take a leaf from our French neighbours’ books when planning your eating over the Christmas season.
It’s no secret that the French love their food. They also allow themselves to indulge regularly in their favourite foods and wines. Nothing is off the menu. However, they balance this indulgence with lighter, healthier eating around their feasts. This may be fruit for lunch or a light breakfast after a rich evening meal.
You can apply this logic on Christmas Day. Balance your Christmas dinner by enjoying a light breakfast of fruit on Christmas Morning. Then eat smaller portions the following day.
The group advantage
One of the triggers for overindulgence can be enjoying the company of friends and family you may not have seen too often. You can easily turn this to your advantage by organising walks or activities with your family and friends over the holidays. Factor this into your plan.
One thing that’s sure to pile on the calories over Christmas is poor alcohol choices. Making some easy swaps can help drastically reduce calorie intake whilst still allowing you to let your hair down. Use white or red wine instead of mulled wine, vodka or gin instead of whisky and homemade lemonade instead of colas or other fizzy drinks.
Best laid plans in terms of exercise often don’t see the light of day during the holidays. Avoid this pitfall by designing your own home routine.
Pick your five favourite bodyweight exercises and do 30 seconds of each with a 30-second break in between. Repeat this sequence once for a great ten minute workout that will kick-start your body and keep your fitness gains on track.
Finally, once you’ve set out your plan, share it with those you’ll be spending the holiday with. This recruits the power of social support and ensures you’re much more likely to enjoy that healthful Christmas you’ve always wanted. Make it a gift to yourself.
Paul O’Brien is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise since 2007 and a qualified Life, Health & Nutrition Coach. He is co-owner of Republic of Fitness in Westport. He can be contacted on 086 1674515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.