Tips to staying Healthy over Christmas
You don’t have to pile on the pounds at Christmas, use the break in routine to get off the sofa and get active.
Many people fall off the exercise bandwagon at Christmas, or rule out the idea of getting into shape during the festive period, assuming there is no point in starting until the New Year. But given that one of the biggest barriers to exercise is lack of time, a break from the usual routine can provide the ideal opportunity to begin or maintain physical activity. Staying active over Christmas not only reduces your chances of gaining weight, it also gives you energy, reduces stress and gives you a break from your normal work/life balance.
Exercising first thing may entail getting up a little earlier than normal, but it does ensure that you get your workout done before other commitments and crises get in the way – and it will kick start your metabolism for the rest of the day.
Workouts don’t need to be long to be beneficial. If you’re prepared to work hard, you can fit a super workout into just a 30-minute window, it’s a trade-off between duration and intensity: recent Australian research found that 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training burned more calories than 40 minutes at a steady state. And if time is of the essence, you can even break down your daily exercise into short bouts rather than opt for one single prolonged session (research shows that activity bouts as short as 10 minutes are effective).
If an influx of family and visitors make it difficult to do your usual workout (say, a gym visit or a solitary run or bike ride) you could even all just simply head out for a long walk – that is a great way to get others motivated as well to get out and moving.
While it would be rather Scrooge-like to suggest that you forgo all treats and extras at Christmas, you can limit the damage by selecting your festive foods more carefully. You can try choosing healthier nibbles like pretzels, roasted chestnuts, unsalted nuts, dried fruits or satsumas instead of crisps and chocolate, and also think twice before you open your mouth. Do you really want it, or are you just eating it because it’s there?
Be realistic. “If you wake up on 1 January with a hangover and a strong urge for a double espresso and a bacon sandwich, is this really the day to begin the ‘first day of the rest of your life?’ Start on the 2nd, instead, and use the 1st to finish up the stilton and the Quality Street and to clear the cupboards of any other tempting food that is not in keeping with your new regime!”
Set goals. “Spend some time formulating and writing down your health and fitness goals, ensuring they are challenging but realistic. Be positive and confident about your ability to achieve them.”
Be patient. Fitness and weight loss don’t happen overnight. That’s why it is important to have a time frame for your goal. Set mini goals to work towards along the way – these give you something more immediate to aim for, and help you build confidence and faith in yourself.
Keep track. Keep a food and/or exercise diary to monitor your progress and help motivate you to stay focused on your goals.