Did you start your fitness journey in 2021? Here’s how to navigate your first healthy Christmas without losing any of the magic.
If 2021 was the year you started getting serious about healthy eating and exercise, you might be wondering exactly how to handle the next couple of weeks. Your old habits and behaviours no longer align with your visions for health…but you don’t want to be known as the Grinch.
Here are my simple, fuss-free tips for a healthy and balanced approach to this next week between Christmas and New Year.
Start the day right
One of the biggest challenges of the Christmas week is sticking to the basics of your new healthy routine. Set yourself up for success by starting the day in a healthy way. Have a glass of water or big cup of herbal tea. Get outside (ideally for a walk, but even a potter around the garden will do – it’s all about getting some sunlight for your circadian clock (1)) Take 5 minutes to stretch your neck, shoulders, and back.
Say yes to breakfast
Should you skip breakfast when you’ve eaten a bigger evening meal the night before? Most people would say yes, but I disagree. Start every day with a small, healthy breakfast through the festive period. It will keep you connected with your healthy goals, and prevent you from snacking before lunch. You could easily eat double the calories of breakfast via chocolates and nibbles!
Get outside early
It’s really important to get outside every day, ideally for a walk or run/bike, but any time in the sunlight and fresh air will do. Get this done early before the day takes over. Dog walkers have a ready-made excuse, but if you don’t have a dog you might just need to take yourself for a walk!
Don’t sit down all day
Our healthy habits get attacked on all sides at this time of year, and it’s not just about calorie intake. The downturn in activity is also a big problem. Every little helps, so make a concerted effort to get up, walk about, dance with the kids, tidy up… every bit of movement counts as NEAT which accounts for a large % of daily calorie burn. (2)
Think before snacking
You can’t cut out all unhealthy food at Christmas – not without being the family Scrooge. But you certainly can adopt the “pause and think” method. This gives you a small buffer between seeing food and eating it. Choose foods and drink you really look forward to, and enjoy them.
Move your body every day
You don’t need to stick to your regular workout routine, but I would urge you to move your body every day. This could be a long walk (with or without others), a home workout (there are plenty of options online, including my own YouTube channel), outdoor cardio, or a gentle yoga session. It’s also a really great idea to do at least one walk a day – aim for 7,000 steps a day over this busy period.
Load up on protein and veg
What about the food side of things? Main meals at Christmas can actually be pretty healthy – it’s the snacks, nibbles, and extras you should think twice about. For main meals, focus on protein (meat, fish, beans, pulses, leftover turkey) and vegetables. Then add carbohydrates (go easy if they are covered in batter, breadcrumbs or fats). And finally, take a little of the extras you really like (sauces and sides). For drinks and desserts, set yourself a reasonable limit and make an agreement to choose only the things you really enjoy.
Drink plenty of water
Christmas week can play havoc with hydration thanks to central heating, Christmas jumpers, and extra time spent indoors. Drink lots and lots of water this week, starting when you wake up. Your brain and body will both feel immeasurably better for it (it will also help you digest all the food!)
Take 5 minutes to stretch
Your body might feel a bit beaten up this week, thanks to extra sitting around, more driving, and maybe sleeping in a strange bed. Take 5 minutes to stretch out when you wake up and before you go to bed. Make the bedroom your sanctuary for some forward folds, shoulder rolls, neck stretches and some yoga moves if you know any.
Stick to a sleep routine
My final tip is to stick to your sleep routine as far as possible. This will help you manage your mood, make healthier food choices the next day, and have the energy to walk or workout. Plus it removes the need to spend a week getting back into your regular sleep routine once Christmas is over!
Is 2022 the year you take control of your food and fitness habits? Let me help – drop me a line to talk about my VIP transformation coaching.
‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’
References used in todays blog: