Balance Your Health During the Holidays
Mckenzi Sager - EXALT Fitness Expert - DEC 2021
Have Your Christmas Pudding & Eat It Too
There’s a big problem with the holiday season—and it’s not just hearing “Wonderful Christmastime” on repeat whilst attempting to untangle the Christmas lights. No, no.
It’s extreme attitudes to health, fitness and diets.
Punishing yourself for not making it to the gym in the Christmas run up? Got gravy guilt already?
A lot of people (maybe us included *ahem*) find themselves a bit polarised at Christmas.
“I’m going to avoid every temptation to keep my fitness on track”
“I’m going to give up on my health goals for now, and pick it right back up again on January the 2nd!”
But there’s a sweet spot between the two extremes.
This balance can be difficult to get to, but having a go at getting it right is a much better option than shaming yourself about missing your weekly 5k in favour of the office party. Speaking of office parties:
4 Ways to Stay Balanced this Festive Period
1. DRINK SMART
If you work in an office, or really—anywhere, there’s probably going to be work drinks this year (yay, but our tolerance has gone down since lockdown).
Pure alcohol has only slightly less calories per gram than pure fat (7 versus 9).
But we really think the danger with getting on the wrong side of tipsy, is you’re more likely to binge later on a greasy kebab, or tell your co-worker you’ve really missed them since they stopped turning their camera on on Zoom. Both scenarios will make you cringe in the morning. Just don’t. Shots are usually our downfall if we’re drinking, so if a round of tequila arrives, mix it with a handy glass of diet coke you prepared earlier, and sip on it with class.
Also, remember that staying hydrated with pure old boring H2o can help you avoid many of the negative effects of shots shots shots.
You should drink roughly two litres of water every day normally, but when drinking, this becomes more of a really should than just a should.
A glass (or two) of red wine is a good option—It contains resveratrol, a molecule identified by experts to have "anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antiviral characteristics." Plus, red wine is super classy, and a slow sip kinda drink that helps you pace yourself..
2. FINISH YOUR DINNER
Yes, you can finish your Christmas dinner and avoid a Santa Claus physique. Protein-dense foods boost your feeling of satisfied fullness “to a higher extent than carbohydrate or fat, and may allow a reduction in calorie consumption," according to research. So a protein rich meal makes you feel fuller for longer and the lure of those mini rolls will decrease.
So stack up the turkey, it’s up there with the healthiest meats. Or if you’re a veggie or vegan, check out these high protein Christmas recipes from Olive.
We think their Vegan Wellington (below) looks so good we might just go vegan too for the holidays!
Also, research shows that by eating a high protein meal your body burns much of the calories through the thermic effect, producing more heat than if you ate a load of carbs. So effectively, you can sit there watching Home Alone after eating a high protein dinner, burning more calories than you would nibbling on cheese and biscuits.
3. DON'T DITCH YOUR WORKOUTS
But also, maybe skip the regular gym visits too. Or you won’t feel like you’ve had a proper holiday.
Aim to exercise three times a week if possible, but take it down a notch— don’t attempt a new 10k PB for instance. You can knock out a home workout in less than ten minutes (thanks Joe Wicks) and keep the holiday spirit up. We find that planning a light workout in the daytime before an evening event or Christmas party has really good results. We feel energised and refreshed for the evening’s hijinks, plus our metabolism will be firing on full, making short work of any Christmas buffet.
But on the days we’re not indulging so much, we’re aiming to eat more healthy fats and protein, and less carbohydrates – especially typical christmas carbohydrates like crisps, biscuits and milk chocolate.
And those long Christmas walks in the park can’t hurt either (10k steps a day is usually optimal, but let’s half that to 5k in the name of festive balance)
4. KEEP IT REAL
Only you know the truth… let’s keep it real. Are you using the festive season as an excuse to binge on everything and anything you deny yourself for the rest of the year? That’s the attitude that knocks people off course of their goals. The Christmas Holidays can seem like a time where “rules” go out of the window, but it’s not about “rules”—it’s about all the progress you’ve made and habits you’ve accumulated and solidified. With a few of the hints above you can limit the damage and still have a great time this holiday season. Happy Holidays from Charlie & Dan!
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