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Top tips for staying on track across Christmas

UT Health

Heading through December you are likely to be getting busier; parties and temptations are at their peak!

You may start to think ‘I will enjoy this month and get back on track in January’, but this way of thinking only makes things harder.

You can still enjoy this time of year without sacrificing your fitness - balance is key.

It’s very easy to consume the equivalent of a full meal in calories by nibbling on snacks and chocolates; party food is generally high in fat, salt and sugar!

The abundance of snacks tempts us to eat when in fact we aren’t even hungry! Studies show that people tend to gain weight over the festive season.

Perhaps this is not surprising with the extra calories consumed at our Christmas parties, increased alcohol consumption, Christmas Day itself and the build up to the New Year.

Studies also show that it takes months to lose this weight gained over Christmas.

According to the British nutrition foundation, on average we will put on 0.5-1kg over Christmas, and this weight seems particularly hard to lose.

Here are a few tips to help you stay on track over the Christmas period;

Tip 1- Stay active. If possible, stick to your normal workout routine to keep some consistency.

I recommend hitting the gym early morning before you start work, this way if the opportunity to go for some festive drinks after work arises; your workout for the day is complete! Whatever your fitness goal, keep your workouts going through December, you will be thanking yourself in January.

You might even put on some muscle mass from the extra calories - bonus!

Tip 2- Be realistic. If you know that your time is more limited over the Christmas period then set yourself realistic and achievable goals.

There is nothing worse than feeling disappointed or guilty about a missed workout, avoid this problem and be realistic.

Reduce the frequency of sessions but increase the intensity, get more done in a shorter time. Again, aim to get your gym session in before work.

Tip 3- Drink plenty (of water too not just alcohol!)- As we all know, alcohol is high in empty calories, the calories consumed by drinking alcohol don’t keep you full and have no nutritional value. An average pint of lager contains as many calories as a large slice of pizza, while a large glass of wine (250ml) can add up to around 228 calories!

For those of you who like spirits, a single vodka coke will set you back around 110 calories and a double gin and tonic is equal to the calories found in a chocolate filled pancake! (I know which one I would rather have.)

Making yourself aware of the calories in your drinks is a great place to start, if you know you have some big nights coming up, try having some alcohol free days in the run up to your event.

Staying hydrated will help you feel better regardless of the time of year; it will help keep you full and might just help prevent that hangover…

Tip 4- Choose wisely. Make sure the treats you decide to indulge in are festive, not something that is readily available all year round. Christmas should not be an excuse to eat the unhealthy foods you would usually resist.

Tip 5- PLAN. Around this time of year we usually have long working days and endless parties. Plan for this!

Do you know you have a late night at the office? Plan your food and workouts around this; complete your workouts either on days you know you aren’t working late, or better yet complete your workout before you even go to work.

If you want to stay within or as close to your normal calories as possible, continue to track your food and drinks using MyFitnessPal.

Continue to meal prep and eat healthy, prepare meals to take to work with you so that the majority of your day can stay on track.

Just because you are heading out for a festive meal or some drinks at the German Market on the evening doesn’t mean your whole day needs to be impacted.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Christmas can be a particularly stressful time of year for us all but 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on at least 5 days a week helps to prevent and manage over 20 health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, and mental health problems.

Don’t let your health suffer this month, stay active and most importantly enjoy Christmas!