Gaining weight over the holiday period doesn't have to happen! If you follow a few of the tips below you won't have to make a choice between celebrating the festive season and maintaining your fitness commitments.
Thanks to ATP's Personal Training Coaches for these tips on how to stay in shape over the holiday season.
JQ's Tip: Plan your workouts for the week and put it in your calendar.
Remember that some exercise is better than none. If you can’t fit in a gym session, do a bodyweight workout or take a walk. Even if you're feeling rough (hangover anyone?) you'll feel better after some exercise, just do something easy and once your blood starts flowing you'll probably get more into it for a better workout!
Mark: Exercise with your family.
My favourite way to avoid losing my gains is by staying active and making sure I get at least 30-60 minutes outdoors everyday, preferably in the sun so that I keep your vitamin D levels up. I recommend staying active with a brisk walk, running if you like it, or swimming if you have a condo pool. And of course keep up the gym whenever possible because resistance training is always the best kind of exercise.
We don’t need to necessarily limit our food intake at family occasions, but if you have had a big meal, go easy on the next one or the next day, and try to encourage the whole family to go for a walk with you after your meal, that way everyone benefits from your dedication to your health!
"Encourage the whole family to go for a walk with you after your meal, that way everyone benefits from your dedication to your health!"
Charis's: Top 5 tips.
My tips are all easy on their own, and combined together can make a huge difference to your success at staying in shape:
- Skip or delay breakfast & go for late brunch instead if you know you'll be having a big dinner. OR have a couple eggs if you’re really hungry.
- Find physical hobbies to do such as sports, hiking, swimming instead of making your hobby eating
- Make sure all your meals include a big piece of protein: Steak, fish, chicken instead of extra fries or oily rice
- Drink a glass of water before every meal, 2 glasses upon waking up. This will help you stop thinking about food
- When you're eating at a gathering bring along a protein bar, or head to the local grocer to get some eggs, salad or other healthy snack.
Iskandar: Think weekly not daily
Even if you go over your calorie target some days by eating too much, you can still stay on track for the week overall by making up for it on other days. Many clients struggle with accounting for days when they eat an excess of calories - weekday calories can be near perfect because of routine but when weekends come it so easy to wipe out all the 5 days worth of effort. So don't just focus on daily calories but also weekly calories.
Keep account of dinners and events that coming up and make sure to play around with the numbers throughout the week. Cut down calories on normal days, spread over a few days if needed so that you have a quota that you can add on days with dinner events, making sure that your weekly calorie total is still in line with your goals.
Hyun: Expose yourself to food you like, not love or hate.
Allow yourself to consume what you like when out for celebrative dinner with friends/family. Don't go into it thinking that you are doing something bad or wrong, everyone needs to socialize enjoy time with family and friends!
Enjoy the quality time with your family. One or two meals is not going to break your body, so long as you stay on track with your workouts.
You will feel better, and stay motivated to keep in shape rather than being disappointed with yourself.
One point I emphasize for clients is to avoid foods that you can't help yourself with. If you know that you'll eat two plates of french fries then stay away from them and eat something enjoyable but that you have control over. On the other hand, don't think you have to stick with dry chicken breasts as it will be very hard to stick to an unrealistic diet, especially over the holiday period.
"Rather than drink beer, or even wine, try vodka or other strong spirits with low-calorie mixers. This doesn't include cocktails as most are loaded with sugar."
Pete: Booze or comfort food, but not both
Of course over the holiday period you are likely to drink more than normal, whether it's at holiday parties or at home or bars with family and friends. I avoid getting destroyed by alcohol by avoiding taxing my body doubly using the following rules:
- Never combine drinking alcohol with junk food, or meals where you are stuffing yourself
- Don't forget that alcohol itself is very calorie dense, so you can't ignore those calories when adding up your total
- Rather than drink beer, or even wine, try vodka or other strong spirits with low-calorie mixers. This doesn't include cocktails as most are loaded with sugar
- Don't mix alcohol and caffeine - you're not 19 years old, you need your undisturbed sleep for your body to process and detox the alcohol
Wei Hong: Front load activity, back load calories
My best practice to help me stay in shape over Christmas is front loading activity and back loading calories. At the start of my day, whilst my motivation is at it’s highest, I like to direct my energy towards being active. Usually this incorporates some steady state activity coupled with a workout. This is what I refer to as 'front-loading' activity - doing it early on in the day.
Paired with this I like to back load my food which means eating most of my food late in the day. That way giving me fewer opportunities to eat and over consume on calories, whilst allowing those opportunities more scope to eat socially. To help with energy during this period of fasting I make the most of black coffee, electrolytes and essential amino acids. In other words make sure you get your exercise in before your food, because then even if you overeat at least your got a workout in, and you might not feel like it once you're stuffed!
In reality this looks like:
- Waking up
- Walking or cycling to the gym (as my method of commuting)
- Working out
- Fasting through till afternoon
- Eating in the early evening
"Make sure you get your exercise in before your food, because then even if you overeat at least your got a workout in, and you might not feel like it once you're stuffed!"
Erly: Eat slowly.
"This time of the year parties and gatherings are happening left and right... After the 2020 we've have this will be the period when people are looking forward to socializing and catching up. One of the best thing we can do when enjoying parties is to EAT SLOWLY. This will allow your body to register that you have eaten enough calories and avoid over eating. Eating slowly allows your body to absorb nutrients properly and puts less stress on your gut during digestion and even helps prevent you from expanding your stomach which might otherwise make you eat even more!"
Josh: Have a plan and stick to it!
My best tip for the holidays is to make sure that that you have a plan in place in advance. I go over this with all my clients when preparing for a vacation or holiday period because failing to plan is planning to fail. If you know in advance what you are planning to eat you can factor in when you should exercise, and make sure that you don't have too many days in a row when you go heavy on the calories! Think of it like charging your phone - if you keep charging when it's full you can damage the battery. With your body you can use exercise to discharge your energy stores before filling them back up with festive food!
Nizam: These tips apply all year round, not just for the holidays!
I recommend you take a photo of everything that goes into your mouth. Water, coffee, mince pies, sweets, meals, by the end of the day you might be surprised what you’ve eaten and realise how easy it is to discount little snacks that actually add up to a lot of extra food!
Get outside for three 20min walks every day - I did this by adopting a dog and this keeps us both happy!
Do something 4 times a week (at least 40mins) where heart rate is over 150bpm. This can be a gym session or cardio or anything that is high energy, but weight training is the most effective when it comes to getting and staying in shape.
Angelica: Lose the all or nothing mindset
Just because you pig-out one day doesn't mean you have to pig-out every day! Limit the days on which you indulge – for example save your 'cheat days' for when you have a party or gathering to go to, but keep your at-home days healthy.
The same applies to working out. Just because you miss one workout doesn't mean you should pack it all in and give up! Just get back to it the next day and things will be okay.
"Just because you miss one workout doesn't mean you should pack it all in and give up! Get back to it the next day and things will be okay."
We recommend our personal training programs as the best way to get in shape before, during and especially after the holidays! We can help you will all aspects of achieving a healthy lifestyle, from diet, lifestyle choices and habits, and of course exercise.
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