A traditional diet outage, the festive season is notoriously linked with good food, sweet treats and dining out. Families gather to swap stories over hot plates, and present hunters roam Christmas markets teaming with mulled wine and imported German sausage. Even coffee shops add calories to their drinks, with extra helpings of whipped cream and candied sauces to go with chunky mince pies or heavy stollen cake. Despite fears about not fitting into that amazing party outfit for the Christmas do, our base primal instincts tell us to curl up indoors and put on some hibernation weight.
Your best bet during the Christmas weeks is to go for the lighter option. There’s no avoiding boxes of chocolates around the house, but just because they’re there, doesn’t mean that you have to eat them. Limit yourself to one Christmas treat a day; that way you’ll not feel like you’re depriving yourself in the season of good cheer, and you’ll manage to keep calories to a minimum. Also try to focus on the most healthy parts of typical Christmas food: the lean meat from the turkey (or whatever your roast or joint) and the roasted vegetables. Split your plate into quarters: one quarter lean meat, two quarters vegetable and one quarter for little indulgences like Yorkshire puddings, Angela’s roast potatoes in duck fat or those little sausages wrapped in bacon.
Christmas is also a great time to take a countryside stroll; you’ll be able to enjoy some (hopefully snow clad) scenery while burning a few calories. If you’re city-based and don’t have a car to take you out to the country, check your local council website for tips on how to use public transport to find the perfect rambling spot. You can also treat yourself with a nice Christmassy pub lunch knowing you’ll be burning off a lot of what you’re about to eat. Remember though: lighter options! A winter vegetable soup and a few slices of thick, crusty bread can feel just as festive as a full-on pie and chips.
Even if you’re cutting the calories here and there throughout the holiday, come the New Year it’s likely that you’ll be looking at the scales with a bit of disappointment. Don’t worry though, you’re not alone; the majority of us actually choose “getting in shape” as our New Year’s resolution. The key is to stay motivated. If Christmas has made a dent in your exercise routine (or, let’s face it, you never had one to begin with), a great way to keep up with your new healthy schedule is to compartmentalise your day. Find an hour either before or after work that you can label as your work-out time. Think of it as your own personal space – an hour where you can attend to yourself and work toward a better, fitter you. It might mean one less hour of relaxation in front of the TV, but thanks to the feel-good hormones that your brain releases after exercise, you’ll actually end up feeling happier, more relaxed (and less guilty!) afterwards.
Rachel is a freelance blogger currently on the lookout for gyms for sale.