Staying fit over the holidays

The days are short and there are loads of social engagements during the month of December. Between Christmas parties, family meals and gatherings the holiday period can leave us feeling overfed and sluggish.

In England, celebrating the holidays is a motion that lasts the entire month. It’s always difficult for me to find the right balance.

I have to remind myself that the priority during the holidays is sharing time and creating memories with people you care about. Time at the gym will have to take the hit and that’s fine. But I do have a few tips that will help you to stay feeling fit through the festivities.

finding time for a workout

Be realistic

There is no point over committing yourself to an unrealistic goal and then getting stressed out about not being able to achieve it.

For me, this month I have been focusing on getting 3 workouts a week in… cutting back from the 5 a week I was able to maintain in November.

Be time-savvy

  1. When: Map out your social engagements. If you’re out for drinks on a few nights during the week than doing a workout the next morning is a complete write-off. Figure out when you know you can’t commit to a workout. In-between all that, when can you fit a workout in? There won’t be many options. When you find your workout-windows, commit yourself to them and remind yourself why you have to.
  2. Where/ What: Given it’s the holiday season, if you are planning on going gym, double check their opening hours. Your time is stretched already so fitting in a quick run or 30-minute circuit at home is probably your best option.

Last week, my only ‘workout-windows’ were Monday and Tuesday morning + Saturday. Knowing that I’d be out in the evenings I had to commit to these times… reminding myself that if I didn’t, I’d be eating and drinking with zero exercise until Saturday.

Tactical indulging

There are way too many delicious, often home-made Christmas goodies to even try depriving yourself of. So far this month I have been conscious of my sugar intake but I haven’t been depriving it… When I’m baking, I bake sugar free but when I am offered a goodie, I’ll indulge (mindfully), with no questions asked.

Christmas sweets and treats

Presented with a sweet treat? First tactic, limit yourself to one. Which one? If it’s a box of chocolates, go with dark chocolate. If you were given an entire box of chocolates, share. If you’ve had more than you planned (it happens) use it as motivation to give your next workout a solid effort.

Here are some healthier holiday treats: roasted chestnuts, dark chocolate, filo pastries or open traditional minced pies (minimize your traditional pastry intake as much as possible) and choosing a yogurt based dip vs. cream/cream cheese.

Turkey Dinner

I see a Turkey dinner and my instincts suddenly become very ‘every-man for themselves’. I’ll pile as much food as I can on my plate and eat it as fast as I can so I get a better choice of seconds before my brothers and sisters. It’s only been over the past couple of years I finally realized there is usually enough food to feed a large family for at least three days — absolutely no need to rush. Here are my turkey dinner tips:

  1. Portions. Fill your plate as you would a normal roast dinner. No need to pile it on.
  2. Select a lot of vegetables. Vegetables at a turkey dinner are under-rated. They’re delicious and more nutritious than most other turkey dinner counterparts.
  3. It’s not a race. Visit with those around you and enjoy your meal. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full so rather than fitting in as much food as you can within that 20 minute window, eat your dinner at a slower pace.

Smart Drinking

Busy social calendar? Involve a lot of casual drinking? Remember to stay hydrated. Drinking water will help ease the hangover.

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