Six Practical Christmas Fitness Tips
Did you finally get a fitness routine in place this year? Maybe you joined a gym or took up a class in January, and managed to keep that New Year’s Resolution going. Whatever the achievement, well done! It’s not easy to set a new habit in place, but once you do, the health benefits are endless. As we approach holiday season, it’s totally normal to want to unwind and indulge in some of your favourite foods and tasty festive beverages. There are however, simple ways to make sure you don’t let those great habits fall by the wayside. Shannen Devlin, a personal trainer and physical therapist at FitVision, shares six helpful tips…
- Embrace Moderation
“Coming up to Christmas”, says Shannen, “people often feel they’ve done enough throughout the year and deserve a break. Of course, eating treats is ok; it’s holiday season, and we’re only human.” For Shannen, it’s about maintaining even a partial routine. “Instead of letting yourself go again the next day, eat what you’d normally have for breakfast and lunch. The snowball effect can happen so easily, but if you’re mindful of it, it’s less likely to take over.”
Christmas Dinner Swaps
Of course, dinner with all the trimmings is undeniably one of the best things about Christmas! The thing to watch, says Shannen, is portion size. “You can still have the unhealthy food, just try not to make it a giant helping.” There are simple swaps that won’t compromise taste, too. “If you’re watching your carbohydrate intake, maybe swap creamy mash for sweet potato. Or opt for baby potatoes, as they have less starchy carbs. Be aware of how much oil you cook in too, you only need about 2tbs in your pan.”
- Pace Yourself
Christmas party season means we’re more likely to increase our alcohol consumption. “Nobody wants to eat healthily or do anything productive when they’re hungover”, says Shannen. Choose one drink rather than mixing, to minimise the likeliness of a sore head. “Spirits are the best option for a night out. White wine isn’t great because it’s got a lot of sugar… and don’t go near the beer! It’s important to look at the amount and type of alcohol you’re having, as it’s going to affect your body composition.”
Drink Plenty of Water
“The morning after drinking, your body’s dehydrated”, says Shannen. “You can slow down the hangover process though by having a glass of water between drinks. And when you come home, drink at least a litre before bed.”
- Adapt to New Surrounds
It’s harder to stick to a fitness routine when you suddenly find yourself living out of your childhood bedroom, shacking up with the in-laws, or visiting endless aunts, uncles and cousins! Shannen recommends a simple morning session that doesn’t require any gym equipment. “During a Tabata workout, you do bodyweight exercises for 20 seconds on, 10 off”, she says. “When you get up in the morning, your cortisol (stress hormone) levels are quite high. If left elevated, they can throw off so many things, like what food you’re craving, or your mood. A simple morning routine will help your body balance and function the way it’s supposed to.”
Finally, a family walk on Christmas Day gets everyone out of the house… somewhat reducing the dreaded cabin fever! “Getting up, going out, bringing your dogs for a walk – all these things keep your body moving and your heart rate elevated. The dopamine hit will make you feel good too, so even if you can’t make it to the gym, get out into nature,” says Shannen.
Those are some easy ways to ensure your health and fitness routine isn’t completely lost over the Christmas period. Staying active will also make January a little less painful!