Christmas is only days away now (I know, how did that happen?), and a lot of people assume they are going to gain weight and lose any level of fitness they have built up. Well I’m here to tell you otherwise. I’m going to share with you how I eat great food, watch too much tv and still maintain the same weight and level of fitness over the holidays!
My Personal Approach To Christmas
For me Christmas is about being thankful for everything we have…no wait, that’s Thanksgiving. For me Christmas is an opportunity to catch up with friends and family, cook and eat lots of great food that you normally don’t eat, and watch movies that you have watched a hundred times. I do all of that, but I don’t lose any progress. How? I keep doing what I’m doing. I stay active, I still eat healthy, or at least healthier versions of what is on offer, but without being too uptight.
During the lead up to Christmas I’ll continue to exercise, doing something each day whether it’s weights, yoga, interval training, going for a walk, whatever, I just keep active. I see no reason to change that over the Christmas holidays either. It doesn’t have to take over your entire day. I’ll most likely do shorter workouts, maybe 20 – 30 minutes each day, but make them more intense. I might even just do a quick circuit of push ups, squats and planks on one or two of the mornings, which will take all of 10-15 minutes, who doesn’t have 10 – 15 minutes? I’ll probably go for a walk each day with some of my brothers or sisters too. The important thing is that I’m still doing something each day.
When it comes to food, I will definitely be eating all the good things on offer, but the trick is to keep your overall diet fairly healthy. I’ll still eat oatmeal and eggs for breakfast over Christmas. For lunch I’ll have something like a turkey sandwich in a wholemeal pitta with homemade (by me) cranberry sauce, lettuce, spring onions and avocado or a turkey salad. Dinner will most likely be a traditional Christmas dinner, but I’ll have sweet potato instead of white potato, and load up my plate with lots of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale or whatever is on offer. I also use coconut oil instead of butter. A small amount of butter is fine, but coconut oil has a lot more health benefits – see my Coconut Oil article for full details. For dessert I’ll have homemade Christmas pudding with whipped cream, but I might give it an hour after dinner before eating it, so I don’t get that horrible over-stuffed, sleepy feeling.
I also like to cook, so I’ll still be able to control the quality of the ingredients, rather than just eating lots of processed food. Plus cooking meals is a great way to bring people together.
Do something that gets you up of the couch and moving continuously for at least 20 minutes each day over the holidays. Get others involved too. Go for a walk with a friend, sibling, parents, your kids, anybody. I think keeping active and doing activities that connect your mind to your muscles is really important, and helps keep that sluggish “brain fog” feeling at bay that you get from doing nothing for too long.
The video below was shot last week on O’Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland. Unfortunately you can barley make out that it’s me because we wanted to get the full tree in the shot. This is a great example of a mini exercise challenge, it only took me a couple of seconds, but it worked just about every muscle in my body. I love one leg squats, plus they look cool!!
Set Yourself A Mini Challenge Each Day
These mini challenges are excellent for boosting your energy levels and don’t require much time:
Do 5 minutes of planks in the morning. Holding for as long as you can with as short a rest as possible until the 5 minutes are up.
Do 30 squats in a day. Simple break them up and spread them over the day. You could do 10 squats three times over the day or 5 squats six times over the day.
Have a push up contest with friends and family! Sounds nuts, but you’d be surprised how much fun it can be, and how competitive people can be
(For demonstration of proper form and variations for beginners of the above exercises, watch my video here).
Enjoy The Great Festive Food!
Let’s face it, people are very likely to over indulge on Christmas Day (I know I will ), and that’s fine, it’s good to let lose and enjoy the day, but that doesn’t mean you need have seconds, and thirds every time you’re offered food. Pace yourself. Eat slowly and enjoy what you’re eating. Give yourself a few minutes before deciding to go back for more, there’s nothing worse than feeling so full you can’t move and there is still more good stuff you want to taste! Personally I’m going to be tucking into lots of turkey and Christmas pudding with freshly whipped cream!!
And Most Importantly…Have Fun And Relax
Christmas really is a special time of year, and you should really make the most of this time with the people you care about, and not let being obsessive about calories and fat and gaining weight ruin it. It’s only a couple of days. Just follow the guidelines above and have a great time.
And you can rest easy because I’ll have lots of helpful articles on healthy eating, getting lean and strong, plus more recipes and workout videos coming up to help everyone reach their goals and be the fittest, healthiest versions of themselves in 2011!!
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