The holidays are the time to catch up with those you love most (and even some you don’t), but it’s also the moment people are most likely to forget their fitness goals, ditch their diets and eat and drink everything in sight leaving themselves the task of having to get in shape again in the New Year.
It’s also definitely the time of year to enjoy and indulge a little–and we’re not going to recommend to stick to boiled chicken and sprouts and steer clear of all the puddings, pies and chocolates. But you can have a little indulgence and still come through with your health, fitness and physique intact.
Follow these six tips from Ultimate Performance and you will survive this festive season in great shape and head into the new year with resolutions intact.
1. Stay Hydrated
It’s always important to stay hydrated–not just for peak performance, but for increased satiety between meals and improved focus at work.
Drinking enough water will mitigate some of the effects of alcohol and increase satiety and vanquish food cravings too. When you’re heading out to a holiday gathering, always drink plenty of water before and stay hydrated throughout the evening. Not only will you feel better, but it will ebb the temptation to indulge to excess.
2. Don’t Skip Meals
So many people are spot on with their diet and nutrition all year, then as soon as December comes around the routine goes out of the window.
“One huge mistake is going to a party on an empty stomach–when you’re hungry and surrounded by tempting food, it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Russel Lee from Ultimate Performance Sydney.
Lee encourages people to eat a protein shake and some nuts (almonds, cashews or Brazils) before going out – it will help stabilize your blood sugar and reduce cravings.
3. Beware the Liquid Calories
Eating, drinking and being merry is part of this time of year and you don’t have to forgo the festive indulgences, but you should be aware of what you’re putting in your body as the calorie count can quickly get out of hand. A good tip is to avoid sugary mixers. Stick to clean spirits, soda water or a few small glasses of quality red wine.
Pick and choose when you drink, as too many nights in a row of heavy imbibing can rapidly undo much of your hard work from the year.
4. Train Hard
Just because it’s the busiest time of year doesn’t mean you have to stop training. A big part of maintaining your physique or even progressing over the holidays means continuing to work out. Training hard with weights as regularly as possible will keep you sensitive to insulin (to better process those extra carbs) and will keep your metabolism ticking.
This month you might not be in a position to be smashing personal bests every session, but you should still be active every day. If you’re short on time, don’t limit your activity to the gym – you can easily do some hill sprints, bodyweight circuits at home or just get out into the fresh air for a power walk. Focus workouts around higher rep schemes, with a full range of motion and accumulate as much blood flow in as little time as possible.
5. Boost Your Immune System
Make sure you’re looking after your immune system during the holidays. It’s a time of year when many bugs and illnesses are going around–and nothing will kill off your motivation to train more quickly than getting sick. f you live in a place that gets cold and dark in December, it’s always advisable to supplement with Vitamin D3 every day.
High-quality probiotic supplements are important, too. Staying on top of your gut health, especially during December when many new and rich foods are introduced, will help maintain a healthy immune system.
6. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is the key to achieving any fitness goal – and the end of the year is no exception. One great tip from our clients at UP London is to push the training and the diet harder in the days between parties or events. This creates a buffer to counterbalance any indulgence that is likely to happen.
You can drop your calories by cutting back on fats or carbs on the days you’re not doing anything social – this gives you that little bit extra caloric leeway when you treat yourself. It can be useful to diet in the weeks running up to the big end-of-year gatherings to get leaner and more insulin-sensitive to mitigate the excess.
How you approach holiday celebration depends on the goals you set and your current relationship with fitness and physique. If you’ve had a great year and have been consistent with your diet and training, it’s the time to live it up a little.
If your health or body composition isn’t great, or you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, it’s probably advisable not to go on an all-out, month-long binge during December. Regardless of where you are in your health story, the key is to do what makes you happy. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.