How To Stay Lean Over Christmas
It’s that time of year again! When it comes to the festive season, a lot of people find themselves polarising their thoughts on diet and exercise… either “I have to avoid every temptation to keep my fitness journey or track” or “I’m going to give up on exercising and eating right and pick it up again on 2nd January!”. But, is it possible to stay lean over the Christmas without having to avoid all the treats that the holidays bring? In short, yes it is! This is your cheat sheet of some of the things you can this year to get the best of both worlds.
First things first, at Christmas the one rule that is most important is … Enjoy yourself!
For me, Christmas is all about the food and celebrating being with friends and family. The last thing you want to do is have a sense of guilt or shame at your diet over Christmas. Negativity gets you nowhere and can often lead to a bad relationship with food.
Follow The 2 Meal Day!
I often get asked what I do to change my diet over the Christmas period. Essentially nothing changes apart from my beer and sweet treat intake goes up. It actually becomes even easier to fast because I am generally eating more at my two meals, which means the next morning I still feel full from the night before.
The beauty of this way of eating is you start to listen to your body and it gives you the power and confidence not to HAVE to have breakfast the next morning. If I have a big Christmas meal in the evening, I often won’t feel hungry until 2-3pm the next day.
This is your bodies way of keeping things in check. Our bodies are perfectly good at regulating hunger and fat storage, the issue arises when we constantly bombard our bodies with food and especially processed carbohydrates, it creates an imbalance with your hormones which can leave you feeling constantly hungry and more likely to put on fat.
Since it’s the Christmas period and you should be allowing for foods you wouldn’t normally eat, this is the time that I would be a bit more strict with the time periods. Aim for a 16 hour fast and an 8 hour eating window on the days that you know you are going to indulge!
If you aren’t following the 2 Meal Day lifetstyle yet, why not give it a try? By CLICKING HERE you can download your very own FREE 7-Day Taster of 2 Meal Day!
Have a plan
Aim to exercise three times per week during the Christmas period, match your exercise days with the days you know you have a Christmas party or an event to go to. On the days you are exercising and indulging you can let your hair down and enjoy what’s on offer, but on the days that you are not indulging eat more healthy fats and protein, and less carbohydrates – especially processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, crisps, biscuits and milk chocolate.
Your week could look like this:
Monday – Rest Day – No Event – Eat more healthy fats and proteins, less carbohydrates
Tuesday – Training Day – Event – Enjoy yourself
Wednesday – Rest Day – No Event – Eat more healthy fats and proteins, less carbohydrates
Thursday – Training Day – Event – Enjoy yourself
Friday – Rest Day – No event – Eat more healthy fats and proteins, less carbohydrates
Saturday – Training Day – Event – Enjoy yourself
Sunday – Rest Day – No event – Eat more healthy fats and proteins, less carbohydrates
Try my 7-minute full body workout or make sure the intensity of your workout is high and the duration short. Not only is this way of exercising time effective, it can increase your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is sometimes called the fat storing hormone, high levels of insulin have been associated with weight gain and metabolic disease. Being insulin sensitive means that your body has to produce less insulin to bring down your blood sugar levels.
Obviously getting to the gym might be difficult over the Christmas period, but you can do an incredibly effective at home bodyweight workout with absolutely no equipment. Just remember to push yourself hard and get your heart rate up!
What foods/drinks to avoid at the Christmas party
Filling up on healthy fats and proteins before you go out to a Christmas party can be a great way of keeping things in check. I like boiled eggs, salmon fillets or avocado for moments like these.
Over the Christmas period, set yourself the rule that you will only indulge on festive treats – like mince pies, Christmas Pudding and chocolate – when you are at a Christmas party or other events. You can assume that all of these treats will be on offer at your events and it means your sweet tooth won’t transfer over into every day.
Remember The 2 Meal Day lifestyle does allow alcohol – it is important to be flexible with your positive lifestyle changes and try to form positive drinking habits – follow these 5 simple steps on at your Christmas party:
Go out intending not to get drunk.
Sounds simple but if you repeat the words “I am not going to get drunk” multiple times to yourself you are far less likely to get drunk.
Give yourself an excuse to say “no” to another drink.
Plan a workout with a friend the next morning, make any kind of early morning commitment or just make something up!
Quality over quantity.
Find an alcoholic drink that you genuinely enjoy the taste of and spend more money on quality. Sip it slowly, savour the flavours and enjoy it. This step completely changed the way I drink; I learned to appreciate alcohol rather than using it as a means to an end.
Get into the habit of drinking one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Not only will it sober you up, but you will be so thankful for it the next day! You may even realise that you don’t want alcohol you just want the feeling of a drink in your hand. I often have soda water and fresh lime juice as a non-alcoholic alternative.
DO NOT drink shots!
This was a game changer for me. I was normally able to stay in control just drinking beer or wine, but as soon as shots entered the equation that was the end of it.
When it comes to the calorie and sugar content of alcoholic drinks try to limit mixers and beer if you want to keep things in check. If I want to avoid feeling bloated and full, I often sip good quality tequila over the course of the night. Vodka fresh lime and soda water is also another way to hydrate yourself and keep the sugars down.
Yes, I know you hear this all the time, but staying hydrated over the Christmas period is even more important – especially if you are drinking more alcohol. It can also stop you from feeling hungry. Often people feel hungry throughout the day and its actually because you are thirsty. Aim to drink AT LEAST 2litres. Even more if you are incredibly active.
So go and have fun…
Incorporate these tips into your December and I’m sure you will find that your Christmas break does not turn out to be the restriction nightmare or the over-indulgent disater that it might have been in years gone by. Over the coming weeks, I will be releasing a lot more content to arm yourself with as you go into Christmas and the new year. Keep an eye out for: