Festivities and Fitness

With the Festive season now pretty much in full swing it can be easy to get distracted by the clever marketing of the not-so-healthy indulgent goodies! Trips to the supermarket at this time of year can be torture. Nights out with lots of drinking and eating involved become more frequent and sometimes you don’t want to miss out.

You don’t have to worry. These things don’t mean you have to de-rail the fitness train. I get people ask me, ‘how do you stay on track over Christmas?’

The honest answer is; I haven’t always. However, this December I am currently at my lowest weight in 2017 and I’m consistently training 5 or 6 days per week. My training has not suffered for a number of reasons.

  1. I love it. In fact, I love training and running more than I love chocolate, cake and ice-cream. Say what?! Ok, maybe not at the time but my appreciation when I lose myself in a long run or the feeling of contentment afterwards trumps the cake high hands down! Looking after myself is what makes me happy. I might not be getting up at 5.30am like I was in the summer months but I’m making adjustments and going to the gym to run on the treadmill after work instead! It’s been -4 here in Edinburgh!
  2. I’ve worked at my goals all year. I’ve stayed true to my goals and put all the steps in place to achieve them for the last 2 years, so why would I throw them out the window in one month… just because that particular month typically involves lots of food and drinks?! I’ve also set new goals for 2018 and they are spurring me on to work even harder!
  3. I’m learning to accept myself and prioritising me. If I don’t want to drink, I don’t have to just because others are. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past and always thought I needed alcohol to have a good time. I’m realising now that I don’t but I also don’t have to miss out by staying in. By not drinking excessively (or at all), I’m prioritising what makes me happy (getting up to run the next day) over what everyone else would have to say about my lack of drinking! Do what you want and don’t jeopardise yourself or your happiness to please others.

With regards to dieting in December, it’s not necessarily going to be easy. Especially, if like me you don’t have the strongest willpower around chocolate and there’s a chance you could be swayed off track. My problem is that 1 chocolate could lead to a binge, so I find it best to avoid ‘treats’ as much as possible. This is something I’m working on. In fact, the advent calendar chocolate is working really well for me. I get one chocolate a day but there’s no more after that – even if I wanted it as I refuse to open the windows on the wrong days.

There’s also more likely to be temptations of the chocolate variety circulating the office, compared with June/July when everyone’s eating salads and kale chips to get ‘beach ready’. A 3-course Festive meal for your work Christmas night out, drinks and meals out with friends and then the hangover cures…

These calories can all add up (and inevitably will result in weight gain) if you allow this be become the norm 2 or 3 times a week at this time of year, but you can minimise the damage. How?

Brandon and I went to my former place of work The Dome, in Edinburgh last weekend for a Festive lunch with our Mums. The three course menu was full of rich indulgent options and I didn’t want to restrict myself too much. Here’s what I did for damage control;

  • I went for a run in the morning before lunch. A 5k run typically burns anywhere between 350-400 calories depending on speed/time etc, giving me a bit of leeway with the extra calories!
  • Pre-planning your daily intake around this meal can really help to reduce your calorie consumption for the day. If you know you’re going to eat 1500 in one meal, it’s a good idea to reduce the number of calories you consume in your other meals. I had two Weetabix with milk for breakfast after my run (around 250 kcals) and as we weren’t actually that hungry in the evening afterwards, I just had two slices of wholemeal toast with raspberry jam (again, only 250 kcals). On a normal day I would obviously usually consume more calories for dinner, but I did not need them after allowing myself more for lunch.
  • I opted for the fish main course, rather than the typical high-calorie Christmas dinner. I’m saving that for Christmas Day at my Mum’s! You can’t beat your homemade Christmas dinner anyway! Whilst the fish option still had a saffron butter and was most likely cooked in oil (not how I’d typically serve it at home), it will still be much lower in calories and fat than the other options; beef, lamb and full turkey dinner.

Then, this week I had a drinks reception in my office and my Christmas night out. Did I have a drink and eat dessert? Yes. Did I gain weight? No.

It’s all about everything in moderation. Don’t write off the entire month of December just because of 3 or 4 nights out where you may be out of your usual routine. Equally, don’t restrict yourself on these nights.

Enjoy the Festive Season!

L x

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