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Temptation, it’s everywhere at Christmas time: to go for drinks with everyone and anyone, to snack on a mince pie or three and eat everything in sight at the work ‘do’ as, after all, it’s Christmas. However, before you completely over-indulge, consider the following:
As we get older, it’s much easier to put on weight, as our metabolism slows down, which means that we have to be that bit more careful about saying ‘yes’ to all the treats on offer during the holidays. Research has shown that during holidays, like at Christmas and Easter, the population, on average, gains around 2 lbs, but will only lose around 1 lb in the period afterwards. If this cycle occurs every year, just at Christmas, that would mean a 1/2 stone of weight gained every 6 years – doubled if we consider two holiday periods.
We don’t want you to stop enjoying the festivities at Christmas: it’s just important to remember that it is twice as hard to lose any weight you do put on over the break, and we don’t want you to completely undo all your hard work over the past 12 months!

So, what can you do to help minimise weight gain over the Christmas period (but still enjoy yourself!)?

1. Move more. During the holidays, make a conscious effort to try and move more.  For instance, on Christmas Day, whilst the turkey is in the oven, do 50 body weight squats, but break this down to 10 squats every 30 minutes. Get the kids involved too or try and do them in time to some of your favourite Christmas songs!  For a really big turkey, you could also go for some planks, press ups, split squats, super-mans. inchworms! Why not plan a body weight workout into everyday of the holidays, or complete a 30 minute yoga or Pilates class (there are loads to be found for free on YouTube.  Mark’s favourite is Yoga With Adrienne)?

2. Walk as much as possible. Take the family out for a Christmas stroll. A 30 minute walk at 2 miles per hour can burn 90 kcal (based on a person weighing 150lb / 68kg), and the faster you walk, the more calories you burn, of course.  If  you are used to working hard, try increasing your heart rate to 85-100% of its max by power walking up the hills, or adding in some spurts of high intensity intervals. Dashing through the Christmas crowds in town counts too!

3. Swap to healthy! It is the most wonderful time of the year, and we all want to eat, drink and be a bit merry! However, there are plenty of swaps that you can do and still enjoy parties and family gatherings. There are plenty of alternative foods that give you the craving you are after, but not necessarily the calories. Remember, though, that this does not mean always reaching for fat free, as sometimes these are much higher in sugar. Why not swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate, replace your coke mixer with cranberry juice or slimline tonic, toffee butterscotch popcorn with salted popcorn? And of course, load your plate up with vegetables with every meal.

4. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help prevent us from over eating, as we often confuse being dehydrated for hunger, and eat instead of drinking.

5. Adapt your training. Our previous blog, ‘What If…’  can help you with coping with the unexpected and your training during the festive period.  However, if you’re struggling to get to a gym as you normally would, why not replace your 4 sessions a week with 2 full body workouts, reducing the rest between exercises, which will keep your heart rate elevated. Finish the session with some High Intensity Interval Training in the garden or in the local park.

6. Sign up to an event in 2018.   Having something to aim for always helps you get out the door and keep the training going over Christmas. Grab a sibling and go out with them for a catch up away from the family madness. If you are heading outside though, always watch out for snow and ice: remember elf and safety when hitting the pavements as you don’t want to start the new year with a broken ankle!

7. Stay home… for food, sometimes. If you have a folder full of invites, why not select a few events where you will eat at home and catch everyone for drinks post meal. This can save you money and help you can stick to your healthy eating plan.

At the end of the day, maintaining your weight is all about balance: either side of the energy balance and you gain or lose weight. The diets that everyone will be touting in January are essentially fancy (and not always healthy) ways of doing this. If you eat healthily, getting the right balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein, for your goals, your results will come. Research has shown the best way to maintain your energy balance is through healthy eating and exercise combined. Eat less, move more – that’s the best way to lose weight, it’s not a myth!
Happy Christmas from Body Happy! Have a super time and remember, fitness is for life, not just when you get new trainers for Christmas 😉