It is Christmas, and this is the time to undo all your progress achieved during spring, summer, and autumn!
Are you feeling excited!?
Over a festive period, temptations are everywhere. We start celebrating as early as late November and normally we end up partying every weekend. Sometimes twice a weekend! Xmas markets with crepes and mulled wine, mince pies, stollens and Cadbury snowmen are hard to resist. All socials are built around food and drinks and we are too busy to exercise. So we start eating more calorie dense foods and move less. And then we end up gaining a few pounds and feeling guilty. The most magical and anticipated time of the year leaves us feeling a bit broken and unhealthy.
How about making this Christmas healthier and still enjoy all the festivities? I am not going to encourage you to give up alcohol or throw all the chocolate into the bin. Instead, here are some sensible tricks.
1) Avoid guilt and enjoy the moment
There is too much temptation around and our willpower is a limited resource. Depleted willpower is not the best companion to sit around Christmas cookies. A piece of cake will not make you fat.
2) Eat mindfully and don’t stress about weight
The holiday season is to enjoy and make memories, but it is not a reason to overindulge and eat to the point when you are stuffed. You don’t even have to eat until you are full. Yes, you’ll probably feel a bit heavier in January. But the weigh you gained is not all fat. It is mostly water and glycogen. Glycogen is starch, and we store around 500g of it in our liver and muscles. It needs to be stored in solution and we need 3-4g of water to store every gram of glycogen. You can easily approximate how much of your weight will fall off after your first few days being back to normal.
3) Drink wisely
When it comes to alcohol it is important to know 2 things. Firstly, alcohol is calorific. A glass of wine contains around 200 kcal. A bottle can be equal in calories to a chocolate bar (feels so much better though, haha). A shot of strong spirit is around 80 kcal. But cocktails are the worst! One pina colada reaches to 350 kcal minimum! A glass of prosecco is only 80 kcal. So choose wisely. Secondly, if you still decided to let hair down, make it a rule to drink a large glass of water with each alcoholic drink. I know, this is not too handy when you are in a bar, but it makes such a huge difference to how you feel the morning after. This is because alcohol is a toxin and it dehydrates us. That awful feeling in the morning is body being dehydrated and intoxicated.
4) Stay active, burn the calories
We often slow down when we have days off, we simply sit down around the table. We substitute moving with eating! This creates calorie surplus that leads to gaining fat. Grab your family and go for a walk! 1-2 hours of walking burns more calories than you could ever think.
5) Focus on intangibles, not your physique
Don’t try to be perfect, if you splurge, dust yourself off and move on. Do not let it ruin your time off. Enjoy your time and relax, but focus on connecting with your loved ones and enjoying #downtime, this is the real value of holidays, not food.
If you always end up being stuffed after the celebratory meal, try to avoid most starchy carbs – grains, rice, bread. There is not much inherently bad in starchy carbs in moderation. The problem with carbs is that they are easier to overeat. Choose protein and vegetables and relax – it is unlikely you’ll overeat turkey, carrots, and sprouts. Plus this will help you to save calories for dessert and wine. Carrots, beets, and parsnips are starchy carbs by the way but they are less calorie dense, higher in fiber and water and, therefore, harder to overeat!
7) Make a positive influence
Inspire your family and friends with healthy food. Add a few healthy options to your table, just in case. For example, here is kale salad everybody loves.
Fat loss expert, elite group fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Sheffield.