We're now well into the calorie finale of the year and although the next few weeks are traditionally about treating yourself like a willing foie gras goose, before you throw calorie caution to the wind, maybe consider a damage limitation plan. Before you let your hair down (and inevitably your belt out) once and for all, consider these Ten Commandments for Fighting the Festive Flab.
Thou Shalt Watch the Liquid Calories.
This is a terrible time of year for liquid calories - whether you're slugging back shots of Baileys (that's 45 mins of kissing under the mistletoe to burn off one serving) or indulging in a seasonal Starbucks (1.5 hrs of dancing to Wham to burn off a Starbucks Venti Eggnog Latte), liquid cals are this season's hidden enemy.
Thou Shalt Have a Motivator Outfit.
Everyone needs an outfit goal. Whether that's a strapless, backless number you want to rock à la Megan Fox, or a pair of salopettes that you want to pull off 007-style, it's all about the outfit. Try it on regularly over the festive period and if it's getting snug, slow down on the Stilton.
Thou Shalt Eat Before Heading Out.
Having a low cal, high fibre snack like a bowl of soup or even a thin slice of beans on toast will mean that you're able to downsize fattening meals out and avoid buffet overload without feeling hungry and deprived.
Thou Shalt Get Buffet Savvy.
Not all cocktail snacks are created equal - a handful of tortilla chips and olives won't break the calorie bank but lard-laden snacks like deep fried brie and pork pies should be avoided like the plague.
Thou Shalt Discover the Delights of the 15-Minute Workout.
So the prospect of a run or your Zumba class just ain't floating your boat as you lie comatose on the sofa. But don't go boom/bust here - stick on a fitness DVD for 15 minutes; pop out for a 20-minute walk/jog to clear away the mince pie cobwebs, or grab the family for a 30-minute game of 5-a-side.
Thou Shalt Cap the Number of Pigging-Out Days.
Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve should be your Big Three when it comes to indulgence. Any other day should be about trying to repair the damage: satsumas in place of mince pies; a Matchmaker instead of a handful of Quality Street, and low fat cream cheese instead of Cheddar and Stilton.
Thou Shalt Embrace the Christmas Calorie Burn.
Pretty sure you're not going to grace those gym floors over Christmas? Fine - think seasonal instead. An hour-long post-turkey walk burns around a third of your Christmas dinner; a family outing to the ice skating rink will burn off 1.5 handfuls of chocolates, while a vigorous, 30-minute game of Twister burns off a mince pie.
Thou Shalt Know Thy Festive Favourites.
Beat matters when it comes to the calorie burn of dancing, so it's important that you know your Slade from your Sinatra when rocking around the Christmas tree.
Thou Shalt Not Become a Statistic.
The average person gains half a stone over Christmas - that's from taking in an additional 24,500 calories above and beyond what your body's burning off (a pound of fat contains 3500 calories). With that sobering thought, maybe you'll reconsider endless days of festive bingeing.
Thou Shalt Have a January 1st Plan.
Have an Operation Muffin Top diet and exercise plan in place for the New Year. This could be anything from recruiting an exercise buddy in advance to ensure you use that gym membership; you might fancy entering a charity race (thereby ticking multiple feelgood boxes, btw), or you might simply want to embark on a crazy diet to shift the jiggle quick - just make sure the latter doesn't involve eating fewer than 1000 calories a day, and that it's not suggesting you eliminate any of the major food groups.
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