Probably one of the most popular questions we come across this time of year is how to have your Xmas cake and eat it without piling on the pounds. This is completely understandable as there’s so much more temptation around the festive period, a greater desire to let your hair down, not to mentioned some added stressors to cope with as we tackle the xmas shopping in the gloomy, wet weather etc, etc. One thing to emphasis here is that we are just like you. We have a few more treats than we usually do around December, crave comfort foods with the darker mornings and shorter days and it is Christmas after all!
However, Christmas should not be an excuse to go crazy and then spend January undoing the damage. You can be smart about it and enjoy some cake, chocolate and mulled wine yet not end the year half a stone heavier. It’s not about being strict with your diet or avoiding social occasions, you can enjoy the festivities without the expanding waistline. Check out my 5 tips to prevent the festive flab monster taking control of you this Christmas.
1) Plan Your Indulgences
You might have a few more indulgences but plan them a little so you can prepare your body for it, and most importantly, blooming well enjoy them. If it’s a Xmas party and you know you’ll likely have some wine and Christmas cake, get involved, just make sure that day you train (preferably in the morning away from alcohol consumption), have an awesome breakfast, a sound lunch and a decent dinner. Don’t head to the party on an empty stomach, drinking with low blood sugar is a disaster for the waistline and you’re more likely to overindulge on the party scoff on offer. If you eat sensibly and exercise you will have fired up your metabolism, burnt some extra calories, boosted your energy and be in a great mood to have a cracking night out. Also avoid stopping off at the kebab shop on the way home, which brings me onto my next point.
2) Have a Stash of Homemade Food to Hand
Keris and I always say it’s rarely the drink that’s the problem, it’s the food choices that you make afterwards such as the late night kebab shop stop and the next days greasy spoon. Alcohol packs a big calorie hit and depletes essential nutrients, not to mention sends blood sugar all over the place which affects your mood and sleep health. If you have some nice homemade burgers or a comforting chilli ready at home after a few bevvies you can top yourself up with vitamins and minerals, balance blood sugar and increase your chances of feeling good the next day and starting your day with a nutritious meal. If you’re attending a family do or party don’t be shy in taking along some food yourself so there is a healthier option available for you and other guests can enjoy. Besides if it’s a Fitter Food recipes no one will have a clue it’s a healthy meal because it tastes so awesome 🙂
3) Increase Energy Expenditure
Let’s face it most people’s calorie intake increases around Christmas so in order to avoid weight gain it makes sense to burn a few more day during the day. Nothing crazy but don’t kid yourself that you’re only consuming a few extra hundred calories a day. Move each day by walking as much as you can, doing some squats and press ups here and there too. When it comes to training as you saw in my vlog a couple of weeks back I follow more conditioning based workouts this time of year. This means higher energy output and more calories burnt without spending longer in the gym. I change the WAY I train, not how LONG I train. My conditioning sessions include more HIIT variations, circuits, boxing work and what I call HIWL (High Intensity Weight Lifting) which is where I simply increase the work rate of my weight training routines by reducing rest periods and increasing sets and adding in extra exercises.
After the vlog I got a lot of requests to give some examples of the conditioning workouts I do so here are 5 examples for you.
A) HIIT + Full Body Weights Circuit
A1) 10 minute HIIT on the bike:
30 secs maximum effort sprint, level 12, 140 + rpm, rest 30 seconds by pedalling at a slower pace and repeat for 10-12 sets
Perform the following back to back for 10 reps on each and aim to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.
B1) Incline DB press
B3) Jump squats
Perform the following back to back for 15 reps on each and aim to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.
C1) DB shoulder press
C2) KB swings
C3) KB goblet squat
B) Minute sets circuit
Perform the following 5 exercises back to back with no rest for 1 minute each at maximum effort, rest for 1 minute and repeat for 3-4 sets.
A2) Press ups
A4) Mountain climbers
A5) Air squats
C) Full body circuit
Perform the following 5 exercises as a circuit for 40 seconds each, rest for 20 seconds between exercises. Do 4 rounds so that’s 20 minutes of hard work. Choose your weights wisely and be sure to be in position ready to start the next exercise on the minute mark.
A1) Barbell squats
A2) Press ups
A4) Alternating DB shoulder press
A5) Mountain climbers
D) Rowing intervals + kettlebell circuits
A1) 200m on lv 6 as fast as you can, rest 45-60 seconds and repeats for 12 sets.
Perform the following as a circuit back to back, rest 30-60 seconds and repeat 3-4 times.
B1) Swings 20 reps
B2) Goblet squats 15 reps
B3) Single arm thruster left 10 reps
B4) Single arm thruster right 10 reps
B5) Dead clean left 5 reps
B6) Dead clean right 5 reps
E) Hill sprints
Simply find an incline and sprint up it for 20m, 30m, 40m or 50m depending on ability level, rest for 1 minute and repeat for 10-12 sets. You can do this on a treadmill too.
F) DB Complex
Performing the following exercises back to back without putting the dumbbells down, rest for 45-60 seconds and repeat for 4-5 rounds.
A1) DB squats 25 reps
A2) DB shoulder press 10 reps
A3) DB thrusters 10 reps
A4) DB rows 10 reps
A5) Walking lunges 10 reps on each leg
Note: Be sure to warm up thoroughly before any of these drills.
4) Make the Next Meal Awesome
Having a treat from time to time is good for the soul and should be enjoyed. However, if it becomes too much of a habit and a cheat meal turns into a cheat day or “oh well that’s the diet out the window I may as well start on Monday” then it becomes a problem. For example, I went out for dinner last Friday and enjoyed some pizza and wine. The next morning I was up, coffee, gym and followed this with eggs, bacon and spinach for breakfast. I started my day right and it continued that way. I didn’t feel guilty or lose total control of the whole weekend. If you head out and enjoy a glass of vino and some cake at lunch with a friend make your dinner a good healthy choice. BOSH
5) Enjoy Yourself
I have worked with a number of clients who don’t enjoy Christmas to its fullest capabilities because they’re in a vicious cycle of over indulging, feeling guilty, giving themselves a hard time, over training to compensate and then repeating the whole thing. That’s no way to spend Christmas. Make the most of your time with family and friends, create amazing memories and let your hair down a little without eating everything in sight!
Follow the tips above, move daily, have a plan, up your training game and smile as much as you can. No one wants to spend Christmas counting calories and doubling up on gym sessions to counteract the bulge and you don’t have to, just be a little smarter and you can enjoy all Christmas has to offer and start 2016 feeling and looking awesome.
If you are looking for some proper Fitter Food inspiration over the festive period then treat yourself to our Fitter Food Christmas Recipe Ebook which is packed with plenty of festive favourites with a healthy twist of course. Plus if you want to start your year with plenty of healthy recipes up your sleeve then get yourself a copy of our 2nd book Fitter Food: A Second Helping . This will make for an unstoppable combo 🙂