Keep Fit During the Silly Season

At Christmas, exercise has to be social, says Sydney personal trainer Nikki Snow. Fitness routines slide as personal trainers leave town, gym classes are cut and social lives get busier. “If you’re meeting friends for a coffee, suggest you top it off with a walk along the beach. And get down into soft sand – it switches on the core muscles needed to hold you up in shifting sand.”

To maintain your level of fitness, Snow says three hard workouts are needed each week, but this standard can seem impossibly high over Christmas. “If you miss exercising for a week, it’s fine. You won’t lose condition and you won’t gain weight. Leave it any longer, and it will hurt when you return to your usual routine.”

Top fitness tip

If you’re travelling to visit family and friends, pack a skipping rope, suggests Snow. “It weighs nothing in your luggage and skipping can be done anywhere, at virtually any time of the day or night.”

How to Avoid Overeating

Most of us gain about two to three kilos over Christmas and the New Year, and this is largely because we drop our guard, according to dietitian Julie Gilbert. With a bit of planning, you can breeze through the season without it registering on the bathroom scales. Look at your week and how many functions you have on, says Gilbert. If you have invitations to three or four Christmas parties or dinners, then go ahead and enjoy them, but build in a buffer. “There are 21 main meals in a week, which means you can eat really well and cut back on portions for the remaining 18 meals.”

On Christmas Day, sample the food, rather than stuff yourself silly, and deal quickly with any leftovers. People often get through Christmas unscathed, but come undone when faced with the pavlova in the fridge the next day, says Gilbert. “Send leftovers home with guests, or freeze food in small portions.”

Break with tradition
Why not spoil yourself with a champagne breakfast? “Each year, my family goes to a hotel,” says Gilbert. It’s great! There are no leftovers to pick on and it’s all over by 10:30am.”

The Christmas coronary
Is it time to cancel Christmas? It seems the holidays truly are a stressful time. When US researchers looked at cardiac deaths over a year, they found a third more in December and January than mid-year. The peak was put down to the emotional stress of the holidays and overindulgence across the Christmas season.

Eat Before the Party

It’s a well known fact that when you’re hungry, everything looks good, so take the edge off before you leave the house. Have an apple and a slice of cheese, or a handful of nuts and fresh vegetables. You’ll be amazed how much more rational you are about food choices when your stomach isn’t acting like the man-eating plant in Little Shop of Horrors, screaming, “feed me!”
P.S. Don’t forget to chase that pre-party snack down with a healthy glass of water, especially if you plan on cocktailing. You’ll feel fuller and it will help to prevent a hangover if you do overindulge.

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