The lead up to the holiday season comes with numerous social opportunities, each with varying food and alcohol temptations that are at odds with your normal healthy eating. So how can you find a way not to just survive, but THRIVE during this festive season?
Is this even possible?! Sure it is!
The following guide gives you practical strategies to ensure you don’t drop your fitness focus at this time of the year. The secret to success with any endeavour is good planning and preparation. This principle rings true when deciding to thrive during the busy social calendar of Christmas. You can navigate your way through this period while staying healthy! To help you out, the team at Inspire Fitness have outlined a number of strategies that will minimise the damage and maximise your training results throughout the holidays.
Exercise strategies leading up to Christmas
- Write down and commit to the number of sessions you’ll complete each week. Record this goal, keep it somewhere you can refer to them often, and keep yourself accountable this goal. This may only be a short-term goal, but the process of writing it down and record-keeping is still vital to your success.
- Reduce the duration of your sessions where required. Avoid the “all or nothing” mindset that is self-destructive. Your normal one-hour session can be reduced to 30 or 45 minutes if that means you still get the training session in!
- Practice HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) principles to maximise the use of your training time during the holiday period. In practice, this means you vary the intensity of your training using set intervals of time or distance, which help you maximise the benefits gained from your workouts.
Nutrition strategies leading up to Christmas
- Limit the number of Christmas parties where you drink alcohol. Be selective and set yourself a limited target in advance. Just because you can drink doesn’t mean you have to! For example, if you have 5 Christmas parties coming up, choose to drink at 1 or 2 only.
- Have a small meal before your Christmas parties so you’re not hungry. As junk food is mostly served, you can minimise the temptation and subsequent consumption of highly processed, high-fat foods by having eaten a small amount beforehand.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, choose vodka soda water with lime. As far as alcoholic drinks go, this one will minimise the impact on your health compared to high-sugar options like mixed drinks, cocktails, and wine.
Emotional strategies leading up to Christmas
Increased stress is common throughout this overwhelming period. Hormonally, this leads to increased production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Symptoms can include increased sugar cravings, night-walking, and greater fatigue during the day with increased energy levels at night. Stress often leads to weight gain and can be mitigated by:
- Undertaking regular mediation to calm the mind and reduce the circulating concentrations of stress hormones. Guided mediation is extremely effective and easily listened to through an iPod, MP3 player, or smartphone. Read more about how to meditate.
- Maintaining adequate sleep levels. Schedule nights off and get to bed early to aid recovery. Getting good quality sleep between the hours of 10pm and 2am are vital for mental and emotional recovery!
- Eliminating your blood sugar spikes by avoiding processed food. Nutrition-related fatigue associated with poor eating can increase feelings of being overwhelmed. This negative spiral can be avoided by fuelling your body with optimal nutrition.
How to minimise the health impact on Christmas Day
We believe that Christmas Day should be a “day off” from your normal habits. However, you can still plan to minimise the damage by following these recommendations:
- Move as much as possible! Organise a walk with your family before and after lunch. Go to the park and enjoy the outdoors. Physically and emotionally, you will benefit from moving your body! Prolonged sitting will stifle digestion and increase feelings of fatigue.
- Practice being present. Enjoy the day and be grateful for the people around you. Being in a state of appreciation is the best remedy to counter the normal stresses associated with Christmas Day.