SEVEN STEPS TO SURVIVE THE SILLY SEASON
We all know how hard it can be to stay on track with our health and fitness goals the lead up to Christmas. As the weather gets warmer, Christmas parties kick into full swing, we celebrate at work parties and see the return of weddings… your social life could see your health and fitness goals start to slip.
And let’s be honest, there is a lot to celebrate as we get ready to say goodby to another year. But do not let the parties bring your undone. In fact just by having a plan, can be the difference between staying on course or having a blow out that will takes weeks to recover from.
For me this time of year used to be a source of anxiety, after spending so much of the year being focused- it is hard to relax and let festive spirit wash over you. But here is the thing, the last thing you want is to regret not enjoying this time with family and friends. Your health and fitness goals will always be there, while being able to spend quality time with people you love will be memories you will cheering forever.
Here is my step by step plan to guide you through your social occasion.
Step One: Ensure you a well hydrated
Being well hydrated will help to flush out extra sodium you may take in from extra calories as well as helping you to feel full. Start your day with a minimum of 500ml of water and for every alcoholic beverage, you must drink an equivalent of water.
Step Two: Do not miss your workout
Understand this, when you train your body craves extra calories to create new muscle tissue. Take adavantage of the extra calories and work hard in the gym, even if this mean you need to get up early or reschedule your day. It is not uncommon for me to get to a party 30-60 minutes late because I have prioritised my training.
Your big lifts should be a focus as well as a 5-15 minute HIIT cardio finisher at the end.
Step Three: Plan out your meals
It is rare that you have no clue where you are going and what meals are involved. If you are going out for dinner at a restaurant, look at the menu ahead of time and plan what you want to have. Then budget for those calories throughout the day. You should not feel guilty consuming a meal you want if you have made room for it in your nutrition. Think about what macros this meal might be heavy in. Think about if you will be drinking and where these calories will come from. Allocate calories from alcohol from your carbohydrate intake. If you need to reduce carbs in the days leading up to allow for this.
I would then plan out my day like this:
- My first meal of the day would be high protein, high fibre.
- I would eat simple foods before heading out and minimise snacking.
- I would consume lots of water throughout the day.
These steps may help you to save up calories for you more indulgent meal.
Step Four: Eat special foods
Around Christmas time I quite often ask myself if the food I am about to eat is a special food? Foods like turkey, chocolate coated almonds, pudding and gingerbread cookies are all foods I would only eat at Christmas, so I eat them without feeling guilty. For more ordinary foods like chips and cheese, you can have these anytime of year. This is a good deterrent to help me make good food choices and not end up eating everything.
Step Five: Get some sleep
Late nights and a change in diet, can effect you sleep quality. When you do not sleep well, you will feel sluggish and experience higher cortisol levels which severely decrease your chances of losing fat. Further, do not sit there and stress about overeating either. Know that the body will even itself out. Think about how many meals make up a month… if you eat poorly for a few of these, it will not cause long term damage.
Step Six: Be social
If you are the person at the party obsessing over food, ask yourself why? This usually stems from obsessing over the food you are denying yourself daily, causing you to binge on them when they are near.
Also remember that you are going to the party to be social. Aim to chat to as many people as possible, move around the room and stand away from the food table. You will find that if you are engrossed in conversation, you will not be eating or drinking as much.
Step Seven: Know the plan for the day after.
Firstly, do not be that person that goes on a cleanse or detox because drastic changes are NOT sustainable. Drink plenty of water, resume normal calorie intake and macronutrient targets, train harder, go for a walk and do not jump on the scales!
You are most likely to be heavier! But you have NOT put on fat. The scales are reflecting higher sodium and glycogen stores.
Remember that the key to long term success is a long term plan. Do not let a good party get in the way of your progress.
Have you got your Christmas gifts sorted? Why not give the gift of fitness to a loved one. Explore our top 5 fitness gifts of 2020 here.
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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