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Christmas time is approaching fast and is nearly upon us. Lots of people tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays, ruin their usual diets and gain a few extra pounds. This is because of an increase in energy in (through food) and a likely decrease in energy out (from a reduction in exercising).
If you’re someone who wants to completely put your health and fitness on hold over the holidays, then read no more. However, if you’re the kind of person who wants to enjoy the holidays and keep fit at the same time, here are some useful tips that might help you:
1. Sleep More
This might surprise you as my first point but Christmas time is a great opportunity for you to recharge the batteries. You wouldn’t let the battery die on your phone so don’t let your internal battery dwindle either. If you’ve had a long year at work and have the luxury of having a couple of days off over the festive period, be sure to catch up on some sleep and give your body a chance to reset.
On top of this, the quality of our sleep can potentially have a huge impact on the quality of the food we eat the next day. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone. It sends signals to the brain when you feel hungry. Leptin – another hormone sends signals to the brain when we are full.
Interestingly, a poor night’s sleep can have a huge impact on your ghrelin and leptin hormones. What I mean by this is a lack of sleep results in us needing more food (to help keep us awake) and when we do eat the food, we tend to need to eat more before we feel full. In fact, a lack of sleep can result in you overeating by up to 25% more the next day. So use the holidays as a time to catch up on sleep and it may even result in you needing less food.
2. Prevent Hangovers
The purpose of this blog post isn’t to tell educate or inform you of the negative effects of alcohol. Everyone knows it is harmful to our bodies but we drink it anyways. However, if you do plan on having some alcohol over the Christmas, there are some strategies you can implement to help prevent a bad hangover the next days.
3. Recognise When You're Full
This is something I need to work on also but recognise the signals of when you’re full. Space out your meals and try maintain a healthy eating pattern. This might look like having three main meals and two snacks. Eat because you are hungry, not because you’re bored. When you are eating, eat slowly and mindfully. Chew your food – aim to take at least 20 bites. This will help you better digest your food and will allow you to become in sync of when you’re full.
If you are going to have some sweets, chocolates etc. try have them in the latter part of the day to help manage sugar cravings. Starting your day off with some cheesecake or a leftover selection box is a sure way for you to crave sugar for the rest of the day. If/When that time comes that you want something sweet, DO NOT eat from an open tin of Celebrations or USA Biscuits! Whatever you intend to eat, put it on a plate so you’re less likely to go back for seconds.
On top of this, I always find having a hot drink after my meals or even alongside the above-mentioned treats is a good way to reduce overeating because it gives you something to sip on. Either way, manage your food intake and resist the temptation to eat more when you know deep down, you’re full.
4. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If food is visible it is more likely to be eaten. So wrap it up, put it away and keep it out of sight. That way you’ll be far less likely to eat it. How often do we pass through the kitchen with no intention of eating but end up grazing on something nice we saw?
Christmas is a time where there’s usually an increase in energy in and a reduction in energy out. This is a sure way to gain weight easily. To help minimise this, try to move more. Get outside for a walk to clear the head. Go for a cycle or a run. Strength train at home if you have the equipment or do a bodyweight circuit if not. Try to do something. Remember your goals and don’t let anyone talk you out of them.
Everyone’s different but for me, I know that days that I train and exercise are better than days when I don’t. Mentally, I feel much better and my mood is always lifted. I don’t plan on hitting any PR’s or committing to a rigorous program over Christmas week but I do intend on continuing to train. In fact, the extra food can act as fuel to your sessions and give you a good pump!
A tip would be to get you’re training done early in the day. I find the later I leave it over the holidays, the more likely I am to put it off. Get it done in the morning if possible and you’ll be less likely to hear the “Oh come on! It’s Christmas” remarks from your family and it will make you feel better for the rest of the day.
So there you go – five simple tips to help you enjoy your Christmas without adding on some extra pounds. To summarise, they are:
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