It's that time of year when the parties are non-stop. There are work parties, drinks with friends, the big two - Christmas Day and New Year's Eve - and all the fun and frivolities in between. While it's the season to be jolly, one downside is we're going to consume far more calories than we would normally and probably gain, hopefully just a little and not too much, unwanted body fat.
If you've trained hard all year, then you'll probably want to keep the damage to a minimum. Here are five simple tips that can help you keep off the Christmas pounds.
1. Set your New Year's resolution early
Don't wait until the first of January to set your fitness-related New Year's resolutions. Setting them early, like now, allows you to keep these goals in your conscious mind. Write them down and display them in a prominent place so you're reminded of them regularly, still with the understanding you're going to start your training in January. Being aware of them now however will increase your will-power and in turn result in a natural desire to keep your calorie consumption down.
Meditating on your goals and visualising yourself achieving them will further reinforce this by allowing them to sink further into your unconscious mind. The effect is that your desire to consume excess calories will likely be much less. The aim is not to make you feel guilty about having fun, but to make you enjoy NOT putting on the extra weight.
2.Keep up the workouts during the silly season
December is a very relaxed time and health clubs are always much quieter this time of year. Most people feel that it's just not the time to exercise. With the extra calories though, you should keep up your activity levels. It's very easy to consume at least a thousand extra calories or more on a single night out. If you burn on average 300 calories per workout, then that means you have to do three extra workouts for every night out. Just think, even if you go out just 4 times in December, and don't workout, it's going to take you at least 12 workouts in January to get you back to where you are now. Is it worth having to put in all that extra effort then, when it can be done now?
3. Add intermittent fasting to your eating plan
If you're consuming more calories at one time, then reducing the calories you consume at another will help keep things balanced. One simple way to do this is to include some type of intermittent fasting in your eating plan.
There's been a lot of talk about fasting over the last couple of years and from my experience, it's one of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing and maintaining body fat. There are many different protocols out there and while research has not really favoured any particular one, all have been shown to be effective. Choosing the protocol which best suits you is the key to making this work.
If you're planning on a 16 to 24 hour fast, don't make the first time you eat after your fast the time you go out. Will-power is generally at its lowest after a fast, so make sure you're in a temptation-free environment when breaking it. Also, making sure you have at least one meal during the day of your party will mean you won't be tempted to eat or drink excessively.
4. Drink plenty of water
It is an old tip, but a very helpful one. Drinking plenty of water before you go out and continuing to do so while out will both help you drink less alcohol, because you just won't feel like it, and can reduce the headache in the morning. Having an ache-free head increases your chance of wanting to work out the next day, as suggested in tip 2 above.
5. Choose your drinks carefully
Parties are for having fun, not feeling guilty. After all, it's Christmas and if you feel like having a drink, you should have one. But choosing your drinks carefully can reduce the amount of suffering when you stand in front of the mirror in January. Go for the lower calorie options. Try and stay away from the "full fat" mixers and the sugary/cream-filled cocktails. If beer is your drink of choice, go for the light beer and choosing wine over a cocktails helps guarantee you'll only get around 160 calories per glass; many cocktails can have far more.
Life is to be enjoyed and there's no better time to do that then at Christmas. With some foreplanning and thought, January doesn't have to be the hard slog back to where you are physically now - it can also be enjoyed. From all of us at TRAINFITNESS, eat, drink, be merry.