For most us, the festive period generally comprises a whirl of social activities involving Christmas themed coffees, mulled wine, an overload of party food, pigs in blankets, mince pies and trifle.
‘Tis the season to indulge, but how can you do so without feeling like Santa come January? How do you stay, even remotely, on track with fitness goals?
To find out, Elegance spoke with Banks O’ Dee Gym and Sports Club Personal Trainer and Nutrition Advisor, Chloey Slater.
Talking festive food, drink and exercise, Chloey said: “I’m all for enjoying myself and relaxing routines a little during the festive period; it’s often a well-earned break! But come January, we see an influx of people at the gym who have overindulged and completely lost track of their goals. When you’ve worked so hard to lead a healthy lifestyle in the months prior to Christmas, the last thing you want to do is undo it all and run out of motivation.
“I encourage my clients to have a healthy relationship with food and enjoy a little of what they fancy – without going overboard. My experience as a trainer has highlighted where people go wrong when it comes to making balanced choices and it’s with that in mind that I’ve compiled some easy and achievable tips to help you remain focused.”
- Beware of Christmas coffees and hot chocolates! Avoid the temptation to drink your calories – one peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream from Starbucks contains roughly the same number of calories as a MacDonald’s Big Mac. If you’d like a treat, go for a latte, ditch the full fat milk for skimmed and ask for sugar free syrup.
- If you find yourself nibbling on Christmas chocolates or eating one too many mince pies, make use of the sugar rush by hitting the gym for a weights session, rather than punishing yourself with endless hours of cardio. If you do the latter, it’s unlikely you’ll burn off the surplus and you’ll likely feel defeated.
- At festive parties, skip sugary cocktails, cider and liqueurs for spirts mixed with diet drinks – a gin and slimline tonic, for example. Champagne and prosecco are also lighter in calories and lower in sugar content than wine. Don’t forget to drink water to keep you hydrated and avoid a killer hangover!
- If you have a few parties to attend – up your cardio activity the couple of days before. Not only will this help with the inevitable excess calories, but it’ll boost your mood.
- Make sure your Christmas dinner includes lots of vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and greens and have lesser portions of roast potatoes (which are likely to be dripping in fat), stuffing and pigs in blankets. Turkey is a great source of protein, so load up on that too – but skip the gravy, which is often full of salt and high in fat.
- Watch your canape consumption! You can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake before you’ve even had a main meal, just by eating a couple of sausage rolls or vol-au-vents and crisps and dip. Opt for vegetable crudités instead, or wait for the main event!
- Fill the house with ‘nutritious nibbles’ – rice crackers and light cream cheese, chickpeas, vegetables for dips, fruit and dark chocolate, for example are far better than store-bought party food.
- Swap mince pies or cheesecake for pavlova; ice-cream and custard for yogurt on puddings; mayo heavy dips for hummus or salsa; and red meat, or honey roasted ham for smoked salmon, which is rich in omega three and essential fatty acids.
- Check the opening hours for your regular, or closest gym (if you’re away for the Christmas period), make a plan that fits around social activities and stick to it.
- Try to increase your activity outwith the gym; up your daily step count by going out for long walks after meals (which will help with digestion), have a morning run before a day of eating and drinking or park from the furthest away carpark when Christmas shopping.