While the run-up to Christmas and New Year's Eve is the perfect excuse to indulge, it doesn't mean you have to completely abandon your fitness routine. Although hitting the gym doesn't have to be a priority, if you keep up exercising you'll feel the benefits in the long-term – and you'll be able to enjoy the extra food and drink feeling completely guilt-free!
In this short article we give our top 5 tips on how to maintain your fitness over the Christmas season.....
#1 - KEEP ACTIVE
Although it may be difficult to stick to your normal routine, whether you are someone who plays sport or enjoys the gym, it is important to stay active in order to keep your metabolism from slowing down. As you will most likely be consuming a lot of calories (not necessarily from the best nutrient sources either) over Christmas, it is important that we use exercise to try and counteract that. Keeping active over Christmas may be an opportunity to try out something that you haven't down in a while, like lacing up your trainers and hitting the park for a run. Alternatively, it might mean grabbing a kettlebell or resistance band and doing some HIIT workouts in the back garden. Or it may simply mean just going out for a walk with the family after your Christmas dinner. Without the inconvenience of having to spend hours getting to work and sitting behind a screen, Christmas provides the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and take in the fresh air.
#2 - LIMIT YOUR INDULGENCE
There is no doubt about it, Christmas is a time to be merry and enjoy ourselves, which for many coincides with drinking alcohol and lots of food. By no means are we telling you to go on a strict diet during Christmas, but quite often we over-indulge and actually end up feeling terrible. Instead of eating and drinking everything just because it is sat in front of you, set yourself a target to choose which occasions you want to drink on, and limit yourself to one "naughty" food a day. You can also try using the 80% full rule that we learned off our coaches at Precision Nutrition, eat only until you feel 80% full and stop there. Our food can take a while to digest, often we keep stuffing our faces until we can't move, but stopping at 80% is a great way to actually feel like you can go for a walk afterwards.
#3 - IMPROVE SLEEPING HABITS
Sleep is a vital ingredient for optimal health and fitness. However, for many sleep is often poorly managed and can be the factor that prevents a lot of people achieving peak performance. It is during sleep where the body is recovering and regenerating, this is where real adaptation takes place (not in the gym). Most people will have some time off work over Christmas and New Year, so try and use this time to improve your sleeping patterns, and don't feel bad about having a little afternoon snooze. If you are interested in learning more about the importance of sleep, check out the book "Why we sleep" by Matthew Walker.
#4 - STAY HYDRATED
Salty foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol and late nights all play a role in the party season, so make sure to drink eight glasses of water a day so your body stays hydrated. Aim to start every day with at least 750ml of water, you can also add in a re-hydration tablet in, especially if you have been out drinking the night before. If you have been drinking in the evening, try to have a glass of water in-between every alcoholic beverage, and at least 750ml before going to bed. Add some Vitamin C capsules to your water for an extra energy boost and avoid drinking too many coffees.
#5 - COMBINE STRENGTH, HIIT & YOGA
Strength training and High Intensity Interval workouts can be extremely effective at increasing your resting metabolic rate for hours after your training session due to two factors:
1. EPOC (Excess post oxygen consumption)
Similar to how a car’s engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over and you’re back in your daily routine, your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories then when at complete rest. This physiological effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Also known as oxygen debt, EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). It also explains how your body can continue to burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout.
Both strength training and HIIT cause micro-tears to the muscle fibers, in order to adapt and grow stronger post workout, the body will increase use of macronutrients such as carbohydrate and fat to aid in this process. Therefore, once again our metabolism will increase in order to help the body recover and regenerate.
Therefore, both strength and HIIT workouts can be fantastic methods to keep your metabolism high over the festive season and use that Turkey to produce some muscle tone and definition. Movement based training such as yoga can be a fantastic addition to your routine over Christmas, developing full body flexibility whilst working on breathing mechanics to improve both physical and mental health. The beauty is that this can be done almost anywhere, as long as you have your own matt.
If you would like to learn how to optimise your health and fitness in the New Year then head over to our coaching programs where we offer both in-person and online fitness and nutrition coaching to help you achieve your goals.