Whatever your feelings about the festive season, there’s one thing that connects all of us at Christmas — food!
Christmas is about chilling out and enjoying a feast with friends and family. The only trouble is, lots of calories and inactivity equals extra weight.
The average person puts on around 4 lbs of excess during Christmas week and it can take up to four months to shift that extra weight. Now we’re not saying don’t enjoy Christmas — but if you do get trapped in the Christmas hamper, then you’ll need a damage limitation plan.
Hatching a plan
Many people go for a complete blowout on Christmas Day and consume as much as 8,500 calories in just one day. The next biggest intake of calories is Boxing Day followed by New Year’s Eve. So decide before Christmas what days you’re going to take off and enjoy and what days you’re going to do some training. Draw up a schedule and stick to it no matter what.
Discipline, determination and motivation are your best friends. Once you lose them, it’s extremely hard to regain them. Therefore it’s important to keep your focus and plan a revised schedule throughout December and January. Allow yourself a break if you need it, but don’t get too lazy and ignore your own schedule (as one more day will hurt).
Christmas calories — know your numbers
Christmas dinner is quite a solid meal. Turkey is low in fat, high in protein and contains fewer calories per slice than chicken; add lots of healthy vegetables like broccoli, carrots and sprouts, a few sneaky roasties, cranberry sauce and gravy and you’re looking at under 1500 calories. Eating meals like this isn’t a bad route to take through the Christmas cuisine.
The problems arise when the nibbles, puddings and booze turn up. Five pigs in blankets contain around 400 calories, Christmas pudding with brandy sauce (500 calories), a couple of mince pies (300-400) and an alcoholic tipple come in around 200. Taking you up to 3000 calories and that’s just lunch. So try to avoid these high calorie extras that are full of unhealthy fats, as this is where the battle is won or lost.
Choose your approach
So what’s it going to be — a few sacrifices or calorie overload?
If you need help resisting the sweet treats, then there’s the appetite suppression tactic. Whey protein powder will encourage feelings of fullness and make you less likely to want to gorge on the fatty extras. Apples are also an excellent choice as they are high in fibre and will fill up your stomach. Drink plenty of water too — it will keep you hydrated and help prevent hunger.
If, however, you’ve decided that you’re going to pig out on some calorie bombs for a couple of days, then you need to calculate roughly how many calories you’re going to have to work off.
Get ahead of Christmas
One way to counterbalance a calorie onslaught is sticking to a detox diet during the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Try a low carb diet full of lean meat and fish, fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of water.
Also try drinking hot water with lemon as this will help to flush out all the toxins from your body and flush out any water retention, which can result in 5-10 lbs of excess weight being carried. Therefore when you hit Christmas you’ll be under your normal weight, so the extra calories will level you out.
All of us are different when it comes to burning calories, but no matter what your metabolic rate and body type, start burning the excess as soon as possible. Zeroing out those extra calories doesn’t mean you have to be anti-social and bench press the television during the Queen’s speech. There are ways you can factor exercise into Christmas without anybody even noticing.
Walking — suggest going for a Christmas stroll/march to the local park. It’s a great excuse to test out any new toys and see what everybody else got from Santa. Hit a decent speed and you’ll be burning around 300 calories an hour.
Dancing — everybody brings out their bad dance moves at Christmas and dancing will burn over 400 calories an hour (depending on what moves you’ve got).
Sex — yes, it does count, but wait until the in-laws have left before you get into gear. On average 3.5 calories are burnt per minute, so that’s less than 7 calories for most men. On second thought, it’s probably not worth it.
So you went large and the trifle has stolen your heart and relocated itself in your stomach until further notice. Forget board games and sociable calorie burning — it’s time to bring out the Christmas cardio.
Jogging — going for a jog is an excellent way to burn calories. It depends how big you are and how fast you’re running, but an average person weighing 160 lbs would burn over 600 calories if they jogged at 5mph.
Cycling — if running isn’t for you, then how about going for a bike ride. If you stick to around 12 mph, you’ll be burning around 550 calories an hour.
Swimming — is an excellent way to burn calories and provide a full body workout. If you can manage to swim for one hour at a medium pace, you’ll burn as many calories as jogging. Just wait until you’ve digested dinner, otherwise it could get messy.
Back to the hard stuff
The extra cardio work will help to shed the excess fat, but the aim of the game is to get back into your normal training routine as quickly as possible. Extra cardio work will be required to burn the excess, but monitor your progress and slowly reduce it until you’re back to your normal routine and diet.
Christmas is challenging, but if you make a compromise and figure out a plan to enjoy it without messing up your routine too much, then you’ll come out the other end with not much work to do.