Our top tips to make sure you don't fall off the wagon during December.
Christmas can be a time when people undo all the hard work they’ve put in over the rest of the year and when good food and exercise habits tend to go out of the window.
It doesn’t need to be like that though. You can still enjoy yourself, eat delicious food, drink alcohol, take part in all of the festive activities and keep your fitness goals on track.
(We enjoy these things as fitness coaches as much as anyone else!) but it’s about being mindful and not overdoing it completely.
Follow these easy steps to make smarter choices, and hit the new year feeling better with less work to do.
Be bad for a few days, not all of December
The festive period is a social one, and often people start the celebrations at the beginning of December and carry on right the way through to the New Year. While it’s a great time to catch up with family and friends and let your hair down, it can mean that come January you’re carrying a few extra pounds and feel less than happy about it.
December doesn’t have to be the month of gorging and completely falling off the wagon.
In the lead up to Christmas Day itself try and stick to your routines as best as possible. If you go to the gym three times a week, make sure you make those sessions - or if you can’t do 3, step it down a notch. Don’t pack it in completely.
If you’ve started to make good eating habits, don’t let these go out the window for December. You might have more meals out / Christmas parties so you’re going to have to be more mindful of this. If you have a dinner out, eat less during the day and save calories for the evening meal. If you’re going to a party, eat a nutritious dinner beforehand so you don’t turn up hungry and indulge on all the canapés and mince pies. Make smarter alcohol choices – think light spirits and diet mixers and prosecco over beer and creamy cocktails.
By all means have some little treats in December, but you don’t want to get to Christmas Day feeling like you’ve completely fallen off the wagon.
Sure on Christmas day / Boxing Day you’re probably going to indulge more than usual, and that’s okay – a few days off plan aren’t going to cause too much damage. Enjoy these few days, relax don’t be too hard on yourself.
But after Boxing Day, don’t feel like you need to have a conveyor belt of food top ups until the New Year. If you have tubs of chocolate, mince pies and excess amounts of cheese left over – you don’t have to eat the lot before the healthy eating stats again. If temptation is too much, get them out the house / gift them to someone else!
Protein and veggies first, with a little of the naughty stuff
With all the tasty food that you’re not used to eating throughout the rest of the year it can be easy to load your plate up on all the indulgent stuff (pigs in blanket, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire puddings, and all the beige food if it’s a buffet!). Try to load up on protein and vegetables first.
The protein is going to help keep you fuller for longer and the vegetables will give you a lot of food volume, and allow you to eat more. You’ll be less likely to overeat the calorie dense treat foods, as you wont be as hungry as you start eating them.
Eat until you’re full, not stuffed
Be mindful when you’re eating – take the time to enjoy the food on your plate. Take a smaller serving to start with, and wait before taking a second serving to see if you actually want to eat again; or if you aren’t in control of what’s going on your plate, eat slowly and try to stop when you feel full. If you eat for the sake of it, you’re going to feel stuffed and a few days of this isn’t going to make you feel great.
Put time in the diary to exercise
Christmas is the time of year where things at work quieten down and aside from social commitments, you often have more free time. Look at your schedule in the lead up to Christmas and see where you can get workouts in. If you’re heading away from home, have a look at local gyms, or make sure you pack your gym clothes to go on a run / do an activity… or you can try some of these HIIT workouts we put together that you can do anywhere.
Think of getting friends and family involved too – if you plan some exercise with them you’ll get more buy in and there’s more chance of you exercising rather than watching another box set.
Get your steps in
If you are going to eat more, it’s important to move as much as possible. Indulging in lots of food and then slobbing out on the sofa for the day isn’t going to do wonders for your waistline. Walk as much as you can over Christmas. Whether that’s not driving everywhere, going for a walk on Christmas morning – all the steps add up and will make you feel better as a result.
You’ve worked hard for 11 months and want to feel good starting 2019.
Not that much needs to change – make some small swaps and keep healthy routines for most of December and you’ll feel on track come January.