Five fitness tips to keep you motivated and focused over Christmas

LDNMuscle's Max Bridger explains how gym goers can limit the damage over the next few weeks - but not any of the fun

fitness gym over christmas
Don't feel bad about snacking on some mince pies over Christmas Photo: Flickr/wasabicube

Firstly, we would like to say that we do not expect you to be strict throughout this period, and please don’t beat yourself up for over-eating, drinking too much and not exercising as much as you would like to.

For a good portion of time between now and New Year’s Eve you will not be in (full) control of the food you are offered, served or generally exposed to with office parties, family visits, celebrations and so forth – also the gyms tend to have restricted opening hours over this period.

Below we have listed five tips to limit the damage over the next few weeks, but not limit any of the fun!

1) Keep training

You’ll have a lot of extra energy to make use of over this period, and hopefully a bit more flexibility with when and for how long you can train. You’ll notice a higher intensity in the gym, and perhaps more motivation, especially if you have been on a calorie-restricted diet over the last few weeks or months! If you train hard and properly whilst eating more, you may be able to make favourable metabolic adaptations, possibly increasing the speed of your metabolism slightly by eating more, training harder and building new muscle tissue in the process.

2) Home and outdoor exercise

Some of us are arguably addicted to exercise and the endorphins (good feelings) you produce post-workout. While we don’t condone a genuine addiction, you will know that if you don’t train for a long period you may get grouchy and generally feel soft and lethargic – or just not yourself! When you crave for activity but can’t make it to the gym we would recommend making use of (suitable) objects and your body weight at home, and taking your training to the great outdoors. Utilise that extra energy availability with home workouts, tabata, sports, active hobbies and generally mixing up your training during this period away from the gym! Functional fitness is great for a gym goer as we tend to lose the ability for lateral movement, agility and mobility in general – and you may realise you have left a passion of yours by the wayside in pursuit of bigger arms, which you can pick up again in due course.

3) Be a calculated boozer!

We are (definitely) not going to tell you not to drink, that alcohol kills muscle and that a couple of drinks will make you fat – we don’t agree with those statements at all. Alcohol doesn’t have magic powers exclusive of being very calorie dense and not filling in our view, and there is no need to cut it out – rather the need to moderate intake wisely! Opting for light/diet beers can save a lot of calories (I personally love a Coors Light!), as can choosing a diet mixer (again, fine in moderation) over a full sugar soft drink. Cold soda water/tonic water and fresh squeezed lemon and lime with lots of ice also goes well with lots of spirits and helps maintain hydration – reducing hunger, thirst and hopefully easing any potential hangover the next day! Prosecco generally has fewer calories than champagne, and red wine less than both! Wine spritzers are also a good option as they increase the beverage volume without adding calories, making you consume alcohol at a slower rate over the course of your night, day, morning, etc. Having a glass of water every other drink is also good to maintain hydration, prevent excessive drinking and eating and generally speaking it’s good for your health.

4) Have a break, without a Kit Kat

You may have noticed this before with foods such as chilli, stir fries and anything easy to wolf down without much hassle: you don’t feel full, but about 15 minutes later you feel ready to burst! This is because it can take up to 20 minutes for your body to actually realise that you are full. This weird characteristic with most humans means it is a good idea to have a small recess after an irregularly large portion of food. Wait 15-20 minutes to see if you are bursting at the seams, and if you are, you will have saved calories, avoided feeling bloated and swollen, or you may have simply saved room for more delicious pigs and blankets, heroes and mince pies later!

5) Ignore all of the above

If you are a consistent trainer, you will have likely been exercising for almost the entire year without a notably long break exclusive of holidays, injuries and such like. This is great, and should help you not worry about a few weeks – a comparative blip in your year – of over-indulgence and reduced or inconsistent training. Your body and mind will often have needed some downtime after an intense year, and it could do you and your body good by increasing motivation, helping you recover and lead you in to 2016 refreshed and ready to hit your goals. Also remember that you have around five to six months before the first glimpse of British (warm) sun, and a similar time until the holiday and festival season begins. This dwarfs two to three weeks of sub-par training and nutrition over the festive period, so believe us when we say that you absolutely can rectify any minimal fat gain over the coming weeks easily and then some (!) during the first half of 2016!

Christmas and New Year is a great time to relax, see friends and family, and ready yourself for the coming months, so we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year whatever you choose to do over the coming few weeks! Have a good one, from #TeamLDNM!

Max Bridger is the co-owner of LDNMuscle. For more training and nutrition advice, download one of the LDN Muscle online workout guides by visiting www.ldnmuscle.com

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This article was last updated on November 11, 2018.
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