Schools are breaking up and the last of the nativity plays are upon us. We are now bang in the season of jingle bells and gin, cake, cocktails and excess - especially if you throw Hannukah into the mix too!
Now I love a bit of Christmas festivity and the odd cocktail but you don't have to let it all go and get fat. Here are my best tips for managing not just your waist line, but your health and your energy over the festive season:
- Don't give up yet. If you have consciously decided to wait until the new year to get going on your good intentions that's around three weeks away. There's a lot you can achieve in that time (and a lot of weight you could put on too).
- Don't let Christmas excesses last forever. A few parties, meals out and the day itself (plus Boxing Day) will not damage your health. In fact it's good to let go every now and again. But if you let those excesses creep into all of December and new year you will definitely get fat.
- If your Christmas season involves kids' parties, school events and work jollies watch out for the hidden sugars. The odd biscuit here and there or hot chocolate can all add up.
- Keep up with your regular fitness activities. I know it's getting darker and everyone's busier so if you are balancing childcare it's harder and more stuff gets in the way and you have stuff to finish before Christmas and shopping to do and cards to write and then your kids and your mum get sick ... etc etc etc ... BUT you and your health are important too. What's the point of getting to Christmas day harassed, knackered and quite probably ill because you didn't take half an hour out here and there to do what's REALLY important?
- And further to the one above, if you have scheduled your essential workouts in your diary, make sure you do them. If you truly believed that your weekly bike ride or Pilates class was essential for your health and wellbeing, what would you move for it? If you had to move stuff around for a work meeting you would, wouldn't you? What's your health and happiness worth? Our most successful clients schedule their workouts in their diaries as meetings.
- Don't pig out on pork. Sausage rolls, stuffing balls, buffets and roast gammon are tasty in small portions but they are still processed meat. Studies have consistently shown that it's processed meats which are the biggest danger to our health, not just red meat. So go easy on the sausages.
- Christmas food is actually really nutritious if you avoid the highly processed or sweet stuff. Turkey is full of protein and essential amino acids. Pile your plate high with vegetables. Sprouts might make you fart but they're cruciferous, green, alkalising and in season which means they score top nutrition points.
- Plan some activity into your day - even Christmas day. A brisk walk or run will increase your appetite and revive a sluggish system. You could encourage the whole family out after lunch to 'get some air' and relieve congested digestive systems in the great outdoors.
- Go easy on the sugar. Mince pies and chocolates are everywhere. Your pancreas doesn't know it's Christmas time. It has the same insulin response whether it's December or June. Earn your sugar with some activity or eat it as part of a meal to keep energy levels steady. I have a client who even gives up sugar from 1st to 24th December.
- The same is true for your liver. It too knows no difference between the season of booze and dry January. So look after it. Keep up your fluid intake (non alcoholic and non caffeinated) and make sure you have a good few dry days.
- If you've got a bit more time out over the holidays do ensure you catch up on sleep and have some rest days (this doesn't have to mean slobbing on the sofa it just means not over doing it). Although there's nothing wrong with a duvet day to recharge your batteries after schools break up.
- And if you have got a busy few weeks ahead, consider supplementing your diet with a multi-vitamin, fish oils a probiotic and vitamin D.
- Do enjoy the holiday season and spend time with people you love. By staying active and keeping excesses under control you can be sure you won't succumb to the same fate as your turkey (too much stuffing)?
- And please don't forget your friendly local Pilates instructor. We're really unpopular at this time of year and we need some love too!