Late last week, I got an email asking for some advice about staying fit and healthy during the Christmas season. The client wondered if I had any ideas on how to avoid the almost inevitable Christmas pounds. You know, those extra few pounds that creep on over the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas and then the week between Christmas and New Year?
Yes, those pesky extra pounds that are contributed to by a series of office parties, client visits, manically trying to get to see all your friends before Christmas and having a constant supply of Quality Street, Pringles and Prosecco in the house. Yes, those ones. It seems that it’s the one time of the year when excess is celebrated in all aspects of our lives. I’ve even been known to eat a Brussel Sprout – well I put it on my plate at least…
The result, of course, is that you feel too full and a bit sickly a lot of the time (with the odd hangover thrown in for good measure) and by January you’re crying out for some exercise, you feel uncomfortable in your own skin and you join the tens of thousands of people who trudge down to the local gym full of promises that this will be the year you’ll get in control of your weight and get fit. Is this sounding familiar?
So how can you change it? Well, I am no purist so I’m never going to be the person telling you to eat clean every day and that having the extra chocolate out of the Quality Street box is a bad thing. I do think it’s useful to have a couple of times in the year where you do relax and do whatever you like.
Having said that, what would happen if, instead of a) getting stuck in the cycle (eat too much, drink too much, feel a bit sick, sleep too long – repeat and get stressed about putting on the weight) or b) having a really boring Christmas as you try to control you intake of everything you actually built in some activity in the run up to Christmas and immediately after Christmas to keep you active through the season and slow down the addition of those pounds?
In general, what I advise clients to do is to work out a way to get active at least every two days from the 1st of December. You’ll be in a routine by Christmas day. Be as creative as you can with whatever activity you’re doing and give yourself as much variety as possible and get as many people involved in your activity as you can. Get your team in the office involved, you family, your friends, your pets etc. Just plan it all out and get outside for some fresh air. It could be as little as a 20-minute walk at lunchtime to get your team out of the office or as big as a long weekend walk in the Dales. It all depends on how creative you can be with it. It doesn’t need to be massive gruelling repeat sets at the gym – get outside in the fresh air and enjoy being outside.
The activity you can do is almost limitless: sign up for Parkrun – a free, timed 5km event in loads of parks around the country where you can choose to walk, jog or run the whole thing. A few of them run on Christmas day and they will run every Saturday in the season. If you have people in the family who don’t like walking or running, they can volunteer as it’s all volunteer led and just getting outside for an hour does you the world of good – it costs you nothing. For the friends that you’re manically trying to arrange visits with in the run up to Christmas, arrange to meet them at a local parkrun and have a catch up during post-parkrun coffee? There are loads of ‘Santa Run’s’ that you can join in.
You could contact the local animal shelters and see if they need volunteers to walk dogs or clean kennels. Look at local volunteer groups to visit nursing homes near you to spend some time with someone who doesn’t necessarily have lots of visitors. It doesn’t need to be a whole day – just get out there for an hour or so. Get out to your local trampoline centre and have a bound around for an hour (it’s very tiring – I took my 4-year-old nephew the other day!!!)
Set yourself the challenge of getting active every second day and I’ll bet that by the time Dec 25th comes around, you’ll not need as much of the excess of everything as you’ve had before, you’ll have spent a load more time outside, which has immeasurable benefits and if you include all your family and friends in the activity, everyone should be feeling energised. In fact, I’ll go as far as offering three free PT sessions to the first person who writes a guest blog about their slightly different Christmas season. Send us your updates regularly on twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Use the #myactivechristmas hashtag!
Please keep sending your questions about health and fitness- we will turn them into blogs and do what we can to help! Twitter and Instagram: @allchangept and Facebook: www.facebook.com/allchangepersonaltraining or email me on email@example.com