‘Tis the season to be jolly, but that doesn’t have to mean you have to totally give up on celebrating. Believe it or not you can still enjoy yourself and follow your health and fitness regime.
On average a person gains 3kg over the festive period. This means they eat about 18,000 extra calories, or 600 surplus calories a day over the three-day Christmas break of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. These 600 calories can be gained from just three mince pies, four schooners of beer, four roast potatoes (cooked in fat) or two handfuls (150g) of chocolate-covered raisins. Seeing as most of us would eat all of the above, an extra 600 calories a day seems a conservative (under)estimate.
In order to counter-balance these extra calories and avoid the inevitable weight gain, exercise has never been more important than right now. Unfortunately though, it seems to be the exact time that all of us let our fitness fall by the wayside, finding one excuse after the other not to fulfil our scheduled workouts. If you want to enjoy a few Christmas treats, you’ve got to keep up your side of the bargain and go to the gym to burn off the extra calories.
Follow our guide to surviving the Christmas season, from sticking to your training to bucking common unhealthy end-of-year trends, so you come out the other side with your health and fitness still intact.
While sticking to a sensible diet, keeping alcohol to a minimum and adhering to some sort of exercise regime over Christmas sounds a little bland, going to the other extreme is not advisable either. Overindulging is not only bad for the waistline, but it can also be risky for your health.
Not only will you put on weight, but if you are eating and drinking excessively you run the risk of getting fatty liver disease, which is very insidious.
Commonly, Christmas revellers like to extol a misguided belief that partying hard is fine as long as it’s followed by some sort of strict detoxification program. Detox programs do little to mend a body reeling from a stint of hard partying.
No detox diet will instantly undo the damage that several weeks or months of bad lifestyle has created. Our liver and kidneys detoxify the body on a daily basis anyway, so it happens naturally.
A healthier style of Christmas cheer is to enjoy yourself, but moderate and monitor food and drink consumption as you go, and don’t totally abandon your exercise routine.
In the instance you do have a slight hangover, you would have to be pretty sick to miss a session or avoid your usual constitutional just because it’s Christmas time.
If you are really unwell you shouldn’t be training, but for most people if they’ve had a late night and a bit too much to drink the best thing to do is to get up and out there, especially first thing in the morning,” she says.
Just remember that a hangover means you are dehydrated, so exercising on top of that may not feel great. Be sure to take on lots of water to replace lost fluid, especially if you do commit to your workout session.
There’s a tendency to let it all go and keep eating and drinking in the hope that you will pick it up later on, but in fact you may be having yourself on and find that it takes you many months to return to some sort of exercise regime,” she says.
It’s actually better to set some realistic goals and if that means cutting back on exercise for a while, that’s OK, as long as you make those remaining sessions count, and of course set a date to restart your fitness program.
Even if you do put your exercise regime temporarily on hold, you really should be doing something healthy, even if it’s walking in the morning and exercising or playing with the kids in the afternoon, because that will help you moderate your drinking at night over the festive season.
With less than four weeks to go before Christmas, you are now in the midst of party season. Here are some useful tips to help you come out the other end relatively intact.