Thursday, 20 December 2012

"Have yourself a very merry (healthy) Christmas..."

It's that time of year again, your house is lined with chocolates, your fridge stuffed with food and the cupboard over-flowing with alcohol.

What can you do about it? Go completely without and constantly say "No thank you." ?... Unlikely.

While the heading of this blog might be a little misleading ("healthy"?..) here's a few ideas that you can try to focus on to make sure that all of your hard work in 2012 wasn't a complete waste of time. Remember, "Even when you're being bad, be good."

Lets get it right - you should NOT stop exercising over Christmas! In fact, you probably have more free time and rest time than during your normal week. Get outside, get moving and be active. Even if it's a long walk over varying terrains one day, be creative. Many gyms will close for Christmas so you'll need to use your imagination. Get outside, wrap up and at least do some interval running and bodyweight exercises: If you're working with just your bodyweight here's 21 exercise ideas: 21 BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES 

Or if you live anywhere near a kids park, here's a decent workout you can try:

DON'T leave it until late in the day. Something will come up, a film will come on, a family member will come round, a game will come out, you'll drink alcohol, you'll get too comfy at home or you'll fall asleep. Get it done early and spend the rest of your day enjoying yourself with family.

So there's a packet of celebrations already open in the morning - this is no excuse. Don't fall at the first hurdle and head for chocolates - start your day right. Make sure every breakfast has 20g + protein content as a starting point. If you want to join in with a nice cooked breakfast that is being shared in some format, load up on the meat and eggs portions and avoid toasts, cereals and fruit juices. No one will even notice but you can be safe in the knowledge that you're not spiking your blood sugar levels and encouraging fat retention from the get-go.

Stock up for the winter - before it gets too near to Christmas I'd recommend stocking up on protein powder and small snack protein bars. PhD diet whey bars are tasty, deceptively filling and will give you a little taste of green tea and CLA to help keep fat cells mobilised and minimise fat storage (not to say it's a free for all and you should eat as you please). Also a "blend" shake can be a great way to get a sweet fix, add nutrients to your day and keep you full while maintaining energy levels. Eating chocolate will add sugar, give you peaks and drops in energy levels, encourage fat retention and also take a long time to fill you up meaning you continue to reach for more. A blend shake will give you a chocolate fix but digest over a longer period to avoid these issue.

No issues with loading up on Turkey and other meats. Use self control for portion control when it comes to: Potatoes, stuffing and other High GI carbs. Drink water before and during your meal - not alcohol.

Firstly, do NOT mis-read this and think the following suggestions are "good for you" - we're talking damage limitation. If you're intent on having a drink then these are the less "bad" options. NOT "good for you" options. Bloody Mary, Vodka & Soda and Guinness made this list - 9 drinks options here:

There are a few supplements available that are designed to keep your immune system strong, limit damage caused to the liver by alcohol, minimise fat consumption from food and keep bodily functions working full throttle in order to maintain energy levels and digest food efficiently. Multivitamins, milk thistle, CLA, electrolytes and plenty of water usually come top of the list.

The main two things that you'll need in order to not let Christmas ruin your hard work is self control and planning. You might not be able to eat what you want "because you fancy it". Instead being aware of what you're eating and what you're likely to eat that day should impact each meal. ie: If you have a big Christmas dinner coming up and friends coming over for a drink, be aware of this when selecting snacks and lunch choices.

Likewise, planning in your training, planning meals and structuring your day rather than just seeing what happens is the only way that you'll be able to stay on track in some form. Look ahead and plan the Christmas period. When do you have social engagements? When are you likely to be out all day or with visitors? When might you feel a little tired or worse for wear? These will all impact your training structure for the week. If you're pushed for time, don't be afraid to go for a quick 20-25 min interval run or some form of bodyweight circuit at home.

As I have said in many blogs, the importance of sleep is heavily under-rated. Christmas can be a great time to get an early night, or lay in, or nap during the day. Try out short naps at various times and see what impact they have on your mood, appetite and energy levels. You may uncover something that you want to try and use regularly during the year - even if it's only practical to do so at the weekends.

If your home is anything like mine then there will be more chocolates around your home than every before. You might find yourself enjoying a mini chocolate at breakfast time but try to create some simple, tasty and more nutritious snacks that you can eat while everyone else is reaching for the chocolates and snacks.

- 2 x cups of oats
- 3 x scoops of chocolate whey
- 1 tbl spoon organic crunchy peanut butter
- 1 cup water
- handful of raisins
- large sprinkle of flaxseed (optional)

Stir well in a bowl, move into baking tray and place in freezer for 2 hours + for a cheeky chocolate oat and protein pieces - great snack for a little protein and keeping you full between meals but still getting your chocolate fix.

Christmas time is a time when families and friends are much more readily available so it can be easy to completely neglect your lifestyle of clean eating and exercise. Planning and structuring your days ahead of time is the only solution.

BUT... make sure you enjoy it - Christmas comes but once a year.

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