We’ve come up with 8 kick-ass Christmas strategies to help you stay lean over the holidays – without becoming a miserable Christmas Grinch.
1. Stick With Your Routine
When the holidays roll around, many people decide to hibernate their tracksuit and trainers until Spring time. Enjoying some well-deserved downtime over the holidays is absolutely vital, but you should never completely abandon your healthy habits and regular gym sessions.
Working out a couple of times a week during the holiday period will go a long way towards keeping your waistline in shape, and you can take Christmas and New Year off without any guilt. If your gym is closed, try and fit in a short jog around the block, or…
2. Make Use of HIIT
Our old friend, High Intensity Interval Training, makes another appearance. HIIT is a famously tough style of training, but by combining sprinting, jogging and walking together into once intense session, you can improve your fitness and burn calories in as little as 20 minutes.
This makes it perfect for fitting in a little burst of extra cardio during the holiday season – and maybe even justifying an extra slice of pie! If you can’t get outside because of ice, snow or your chronic phobia of snowmen, try using high intensity weight training for a half hour. Make use of drop sets, supersets and rest/pause training to push yourself a little bit harder, in a little bit less time.
3. Lay off the Eggnog
Alcohol and Christmas go together like giant shapely asses and deep squats – you can’t find one without the other. Unfortunately though, drinking a lot of booze over the holidays is one of the easiest ways to completely bury your sixpack. As well as being seriously high in calories (I’m looking at you, beer), waking up dehydrated and nauseated after a big night is guaranteed to put the stops on your early morning run, or afternoon weight’s session.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of a buzz on, but if you do, make sure to stick to spirit and sugar-free mixer combos. And no, I’m sorry – Eggnog does not count as a protein shake.
4. Stay Away From Stress
The holidays normally mean visits from obscure family members, and that normally means a ton of stress. Last minute Christmas shopping and disputes over where your 30 foot inflatable Santa should go can cause serious headaches, and stress can cause overeating and even depression.
As a result, if you find yourself getting too stressed, spend a few minutes on your own to unwind. If you think it’ll work, try yoga or meditation. Personally, I just stay the hell away from my parents when they’ve been hitting the wine.
5. Get a Head-Start on Your New Year’s Resolutions
If you have a clear New Year’s resolution in mind already, you can view Christmas as a bit of extra time to get a head start on your goals. The end of a year is the perfect time to reflect on what you’ve achieved, and what you wish you’d achieved – and New Year’s resolutions are a way of committing to these goals. Getting in a few extra gym sessions before January 1st is only going to help your cause, so if you feel up to working out, go for it!
6. Use Buffet Strategy
Christmas parties are normally awash with hundreds of delicious dishes, and buffet tables covered in more junk than you knew even existed. It can be easy to seriously overeat at buffets, so make sure you have a strategy in place!
Go for the filling, high-protein and low-fat options first – think turkey breast, fruit-and-veg and yams. Only head for the sweet stuff afterwards, when you aren’t feeling completely starving. You’ll eat less junk, and you’ll even get some solid nutrition out of the buffet!
7. Schedule Treat Days
Chances are that you’re going to have days where you eat too much, and do too little – but that’s totally cool. If possible, you can schedule these days, so that you know when they’re likely to happen, and how you’re gonna deal with the aftermath.
If you’re heading to a friend’s house on Christmas Eve, you can prepare yourself for the possibility of drinking 8 pitchers of Christmas punch and waking up in a snowbank on Christmas day – and you can schedule a day afterwards where you intend to workout and watch what you eat. This way, you’re less likely to become frustrated at yourself for pigging out, and you’ll channel your energy into doing something productive to deal with it.
8. Don’t Be a Grinch
If you spend the holidays eating nothing but grilled chicken breast and broccoli, you’re more likely to get pissed off and pig out on junk. The holidays are a special time, and you need to enjoy the occasional pumpkin pie and turkey stuffing sandwich. Completely refusing all holiday-related treats is the single worst thing you could do. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional sugary snack or day out of the gym, and taking a well-earned break will do wonders for your motivation.
Take a look at the Grinch – he’s got an awful green complexion, no definition and a seriously bad attitude – so don’t take a leaf out of his miserable book. Enjoy yourself, have fun and get back at it in the New Year. Happy holidays everyone!