So once again it's here - CHRISTMAS! I actually LOVE Christmas and if you're anything like me then Christmas is all about spending time with friends and family and celebrating another year of hard work. BUT there can be a few downsides during this time of year - especially if you've been working hard on your fitness and nutrition all year round. 12 months of hard work and graft can be undone pretty quickly when those mince pies and that mulled wine start to make an appearance and the LAST thing you want to do is put yourself back at square one in the space of just a few weeks. BUT you also want and probably DESERVE to have a good time, tis the season to be jolly after all......
Well my festive friends fear not as I'm going to help you through it. Firstly your two favourite words throughout December are going to be MODERATION and PLANNING. I'm going to give you my yuletide low down and explain how with a little bit of strategic planning and by making sensible choices you can have an absolute ball this Christmas without heading into January looking like a stuffed turkey......
Plan Your Workout Days – I mean really you should be doing this one anyway, but this time of year you will benefit more than ever from looking at your diary the week before and scheduling in when you’re going to go to the gym. By physically scheduling it into you’re routine you’ll find you’re much more likely to stick to it. And don’t forget, 30 minutes 3-5 times a week is all you need.
Be smart about your training schedule. Look at each week and plan effectively. Make the days when you want to spend time with your friends and family your rest days. If you know you have 4 full days where you can't train at all squeeze in some extra sessions before that period.
Oh and lets not be silly about planning a HIIT session in the day after the office night out.....
Plan Your Workout Times - So you know what days you're going to train but planning the times you train can help you keep on track.
If you train before a big cheat meal for example your body will be in the perfect depleted state to absorb all those carbs and make use of them to replenish your glycogen stores. So if you're heading out for a big family meal one evening train later in the day just before you eat. Then use that meal as a recovery meal.
Think about undoing some damage the following day too. If you had a big meal the day before, throw in some HIIT training in your gym session the following day to keep those calories off.
Get Up Early – Yes its cold and dark outside, but by getting up early and getting your workout done first thing before work, its much more like to actually happen. Leave it to the end of the day and you run the risk of sacrificing the gym for those after work drinks we mentioned before.
Get up early and get sh*t done and then when 5pm hits you can join your colleagues for a few cheeky after work drinks without feeling any guilt about missing your workout.
Prioritise With HIIT – Like we mentioned before finding time to get your workouts in can often be a problem. So you need to be maximising your workouts with the time you can find.
That’s where high intensity interval training comes in. HIIT can be done in 20 minutes and is much more effective for fat burning than your regular steady state cardio plus it can be performed in much less time. Simply hop on a treadmill/bike/rower and sprint/cycle/row at your MAXIMUM intensity for 30 seconds then STOP for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 15-20 minutes. It’s tough - you need to go all out on the 30 seconds - but its massively effective for fat burning.
Do the same kind of thing with some weights but throw in some big movements, a little circuit like this can give you a great workout, burn fat and help build lean muscle when you're strapped for time:
BARBELL CLEAN AND PRESS
20 secs on - 10 secs rest x 3-4 rounds
More on HIIT workouts HERE
Plan Your Cheat Meals Wisely – Plan the days when you going to indulge. Obviously Christmas Day is likely to be one, Boxing Day tends to be another indulgent day, but after those two for example you could try eating sensibly up until new year’s eve and new year’s day.
This sort of strategy not only helps keep damage to a minimum, it also doesn’t throw you out of your routine completely. Also take into account parties, social events etc. Over the festive period I find it more difficult to have cheat 'days' so I find switching my strategy to having a set amount of cheat 'meals' through the week works better for me at this time of year. But also don't overcomplicate things! You deserve some time to enjoy yourself so above all else just be sensible and try to keep your treats in moderation.
Increase Fibre Intake – Fibre helps to keep you feel fuller, but you will also burn more calories when you consume food high in fibre. In fact by increasing your fibre intake to 35g a day, you could burn up to 250 extra calories
Eat More Protein Especially Prior To A Cheat Meal – Not only is protein one of the more filling macronutrients, it helps by boosting your metabolism and also helps you to maintain muscle mass. Filling up on more protein prior to a big meal (turkey is the obvious choice at this time of year) will keep you feeling full and help banish those hunger signals. So before a big party/buffet/meal snack on some protein if you want to keep the binge eating under control.
Graze Wisely At Those Buffets – Try and fill yourself up with some of the more healthy buffet foods before a big meal. One great thing about this time of year.... TURKEY! The absolute king of lean meats. Things like cashew nuts and almonds also do the rounds a lot at this time of year so another great snacking option.
BIG BIT OF ADVICE HERE - don't go showing up to those buffets absolutely starving you muppet. Sure it can be pretty tempting to have the mentality of not eating all day to leave room for the buffet BUT if you're like me then you probably absolutely demolish the entire buffet within less than 20 minutes. Its a recipe for disaster. Have a healthy meal a few hours before the buffet so you're not absolutely starving when you arrive and you're much more likely to keep it sensible. Finally try and use a small plate, using a smaller plate has been proven to help you eat less - makes sense really because you cant fit as much on it.....
Make Modifications – Little hacks when eating include not eating the skin on your turkey, making your own cranberry sauce to control the sugar, let the juices from the gravy rise and then skim the fat off the top, avoid the veg that comes in those rich creamy sauces, you know the drill......
Watch Out For Liquid Calories - Yes alcohol does contain calories I'm afraid. A standard glass of champagne for example contains around 100 calories. Not THAT bad until you're on your third or fourth and you've downed around 500 calories in a couple of hours! Also keep in mind the more drunk you get the more likely you are to snack on junk foods. AND alcohol leads to dehydration, dehydration leads to the brain mistaking your body for being hungry. Like everything else just drink in moderation.
Finally I want to say a HUGE thank you to all my clients and everyone who signed up to my ONLINE BOOTCAMP programme this year. You guys helped me achieve my ultimate dream of helping as many people from all around the world to build a fitter, leaner and stronger body - and next year is going to be even better!
Have an amazing Christmas guys and an awesome new year! I'll catch you in 2018!