With the smell of cinnamon and mulled wine lingering around every corner it’s safe to say it’s almost Christmas. The German markets are taking their first customers and there’re Bratwursts galore in most major cities. But with all these festivities, it’s easy to get slightly carried away. I know amaretto hot chocolate is too good to be ignored but too much of a good thing can end up being bad. For many people, that means Christmas weight gain.
It’s pretty tough to avoid Christmas weight gain as it’s evidently a time of excess. A time to get social. Drink with friends and family. Eat large dinners and open advent calendars. The whole festive period is centred around food – I mean look at Santa Claus himself? He didn’t get that big from under-eating.
You’re probably starting to feel like this festive weight gain is inevitable, right? Don’t trade in your gym membership for mince pies just yet. I’ve got a few hints and tips to help keep your fitness goals in check and avoid that unnecessary Christmas weight gain.
Firstly, you need to have a plan:
You don’t want to go into this season blindly. Seriously. Having a focused plan is your best way of staying on target and not lose sight of future goals. Even if your plan for the next two months is just maintenance. That’s better than a gain (well unless you’re an aspiring bodybuilder – but if that was the case, I doubt you’d have clicked a link on avoiding weight gain).
Plan your week in advance. That means, plan your exercise, plan your meals and plan your social events. Have a contingency strategy set up incase you get derailed along the way by an impromptu Christmas meet-up. If weight gain is a big concern for you, why not have a look at the IIFYM calculator and figure out how many calories you need to lose/maintain and gain. Work out your personal plan from there.
Secondly, You may want to slow down on the mulled wine:
I’m not saying avoid it. Why would you want to do that, it’s festive and fun. Enjoyment should never be avoided. However, dependent on the recipe one glass of mulled wine can be around 220 calories, and it’s easy to get carried away. Drinking alcohol can have a detrimental effect on your body’s ability to burn fat too. It’s safe to say alcohol can be pretty awful at times – but beautiful all the same.
If you are going for a social session try and track how much you’ve drunk. And ensure it’s not a regular occurrence otherwise Bob the belly will soon catch up with you. You don’t want to try and disguise that in your new Christmas eve dress. If you really can’t avoid it, why not try and drink more clear spirits as opposed to wine. OR if the social gathering is at your’s or a friends house, why not have a go at making a healthy low-calorie mulled wine instead.
Don’t give up on exercise:
It’s easier said than done, I know. Getting out of bed to walk half a mile to the gym in minus 2-degree temperatures is not my idea of festive fun. But, sometimes these things have to be done. I’ve figured, for mornings when I require a little bit of extra motivation that pre-workout has been a lifesaver. Mainly because once you’ve drunk it, if you don’t go to the gym and work it out you’ll be itching like you’re suffering from scabies and wired like a drug addict. In fact, the struggle I have more is finding the motivation to drink my pre-workout as I know it means I have no way to back out. For me, giving up isn’t an option. I pay £25 a month for that gym membership and I’m blooming well going to use it!
If you must skip the gym, workout at home:
I wrote a post about keeping fit during Autumn because the cold temperatures in September were enough for me to want to wrap up and stay in the house. Now, I feel like I’ve been transported to the north pole or some other freezing cold country. I hate it. But basically in that post, I spoke about how if you must avoid the gym there are plenty of other ways to keep fit. Workout DVDs, Pinterest challenges, even Christmas shopping (if you don’t get distracted by the German Bratwursts). Even cosmopolitan magazine features a double page workout spread for those of us who would rather stay in our toasty radiated houses.
Be careful about what you eat:
Last Christmas I didn’t even have roast potatoes, can you believe that. In all fairness, I’m not a massive roasty fan and I prefer new potatoes anyway, but I actually skipped the potatoes altogether, instead I ate parsnips – because parsnips are freaking awesome and they have a similar look and texture as potatoes. I’m not telling you to avoid roasties, no, not at all, but maybe, don’t fill your plate to the brim with them. Or at least cook them in a little less goose fat than normal.
And Christmas snacks, there’s usually hundreds flying around. Keep hydrated and only eat when you’re hungry. I’m one of these people that once I start eating something I can’t stop, like the pringles advert. However, my way around this is I try something and leave the room it’s in – odd I know but escaping it seems to dull the urge to go back for more.
Eat the meat first:
I normally leave my favourite parts of a roast until the end. I don’t know why must be a fatty habit I’ve got myself into. It usually goes veggies first, potatoes second, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing then meat. However, I’ve discovered by eating the meat first the protein fills me up quicker and by the time I finish the meal I am stuffed, sometimes I can’t even finish it. Eating my usual way normally leaves me still hungry and wanting more – I guess it’s all about tricking the brain.
Don’t sweat the small stuff:
Christmas can be a busy stressful time of year. Although we try and tell ourselves it’s a time of festive cheer, sometimes it’s more of a headache. Money worries, planning which family member to see, finding the right presents – It’s a lot of work. Recently I’ve spent most evenings online shopping for presents and yet I’m still no closer to picking anyone’s gifts, but I’ve managed to waste a lot of time that could have been used more productively. Getting too stressed over Christmas can lead to binge eating and emotional hunger. I know when I’m stressed I immediately turn to food for comfort. So, don’t let the small things get you, enjoy it as well as possible and come January it will all be forgotten – you’ll wonder why you ever worried in the first place
Willpower is tough, but sometimes you need to stand up for yourself and your body and just refuse. You’re going to be provided with many opportunities to eat and drink and if it doesn’t fit in with your goals then maybe you should just say no. Or have a read about my Screw The Rest Method for dealing with eating well when nobody supports you. You’re looking out for yourself and you have to remember that others are doing the same. Some people don’t care about over-eating. Some may not care about overspending. You have to look out for yourself. Stop doing things just because you feel it’s what you should do, or what others do.
You don’t have to take my advice, if you really feel that trying to stick to a plan will make you miserable over Christmas then don’t. A slight weight gain can be recovered in January if need be, and you shouldn’t feel guilty or punish yourself for having some fun. Do remember, though, the gyms are going to be absolutely packed in January….
Do you have any other tips for keeping the weight off over the festive period?