December 17, 2018

FITNESS

Enjoy the Christmas period without falling off the fitness wagon

THE CHRISTMAS PARTY season is in full swing now, and as we all enter festive mode, it’s important to enjoy ourselves and experience this time of year for what its worth.

In this series of articles, the biggest message I want to convey is that there is no need to restrict or deprive yourself during the Christmas period, but balance and maintenance is equally important.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a number of useful tips to remember as Christmas approaches.

Build a calorie bank

If you know you have a big night out planned coming up then build up a calorie bank.

In the days leading up to your night out cut back a little on your calories and give yourself a little bit more wiggle room when it comes to eating and drinking out.

It can be something as simple as leaving yourself short of 200 calorie snacks on the days beforehand, allowing you to overindulge that bit more without veering completely off track.

Squeeze in another short session

Granted December isn’t a month many of us are thinking about our normal exercise routine, but it’s still important to keep things ticking over. If you stay on top of things, it will help you significantly come January.

My suggestion here is a few HIIT sessions, which provide a good hit without having to spend an hour in the gym at a time of year when our schedules are busy enough as is.

In this instance, high-intensity workouts are something you should look to add into your week this month.

All you need is a 10-20 minute window and doing these workouts will help keep your metabolism high, maintain your fitness levels and help burn off those excess calories over the Christmas break.

Control the controllable

At this time of the year, it’s easier said than done to control what you eat and drink.

If you do find yourself drinking a lot, my advice would be to go with the drink you truly enjoy but the main message here is to keep it in moderation. On top of that, try to limit spirits, sweet mixers and too many dark beers.

As for the food, drinking on an empty stomach is a bad idea. If you eat before ingesting alcohol, your body will thank you later on. Before a night out eat something that is slow digesting which also has a good source of protein and slow-digesting carbohydrate.

This helps slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach. The longer food stays in your stomach, the slower the alcohol gets absorbed into your bloodstream.

As for the takeaway home — this is a very easy way of picking up an extra 1,000 calories that you’ll barely remember.

If you are someone who has a few parties on the town lined up this Christmas then my best advice is to try to steer clear of this habit as much as you can and have some food already planned before you head out so when you head home, it will keep you away from those late-night greasy calories.

Rebuild yourself back up again

We have all been there. Getting through the day after is a tough task and it can be tough 24 hours ahead after a night out.

Upon awakening, you should be looking to rehydrate and stabilise your blood sugar levels. Some fluids that have electrolytes, some water and a little bit of a cordial mix, or even a dioralyte will help you out here.

Soon after, the best step is to seek out food that is going to help you bring down the inflammatory responses in your body after a heavy night out.

Of course, for a lot of us, the first food port of call generally involves a Christmas fry or even the turkey leftovers; however if you can start the day with a super smoothie, that really can be a great choice to get you back up and motoring again.

The next port of call generally is the sofa. We have all been there before and the last thing we want to do after a night out is move and exercise the next day.

What we generally do is stick on the Netflix and park ourselves on the couch for the next five hours.

My advice here is, yes stick to some Netflix, but try to give yourself 30 minutes to do some form of physical activity.

This will help everything from clearing out those toxins to getting the blood flowing around the body again, and overall it will just help you come back around to normality.

Embrace the festive cheer and enjoy yourself

At this time of the year, you shouldn’t have to be searching for a “Christmas survival guide” to get you through this period.

This is the time of the year to switch off and enjoy good quality time with family and friends. Embrace the Christmas period, nights out, food and drink and enjoy them — don’t dread them in fear of setting your fitness goals backwards.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information, you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.