It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song says, but to be honest, for a lot of people the festive season can be a very challenging and frustrating time. You’ve worked so hard to try and keep in shape thus far, but with the hustle and bustle of drunken office parties, the huge family feasts, the tempting treats that come as gifts to torture you and the general disruption to normal routine, you feel that weight gain is inevitable.
Follow our tips for 12 healthy days of Christmas and you can merrily munch your way through the festive season, remain active and avoid the post Christmas crash.
On the First Day of Christmas … start your Christmas shopping!
You may be tempted to do buy all your gifts
online this year, particularly when the last thing you feel like doing is leaving the warmth of indoors for the snowscape outside…. But just think about all the calorie burning walking you’re missing out on by not hitting the shops!
On the Second Day of Christmas … monitor yourself! Food diaries like the one in your Activity Manager give you a basis from which to plan changes, set goals and look back at your calorie intake data. You are building a record of your lifestyle and can see what you’ve changed over time. There is no right or wrong way to fill in your food diary. You just need to find the right method for you.
On the Third Day of Christmas … keep calm and carry on! The festive period is supposed to be a time when we relax a little, enjoy ourselves and let our hair down, but Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. For those of you out there that are far too busy to read through pages about stress, here are some quick proven ways to reduce stress that you can apply to your day right now!
1) Do something you enjoy everyday.
2) Increase your physical activity.
3) Limit your caffeine intake.
4) Limit your alcohol intake.
5) Work on your time-management skills.
On the Forth Day of Christmas … sleep tight! We have all felt the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Creating an environment that is conducive to sleep is essential for people who are having problems sleeping. Being aware of these few simple techniques will help to calm your mind and relax your body, ready for sleep.
1) Never take your work to into the bedroom, especially into the bed with.
2) Remove your TV, Computer and other electrical gadgets from your room.
3) If you are unable to sleep – get up. Don’t lay awake in your bed.
4) Make yourself a Valerian or Chamomile tea.
5) Read a fiction book to take you into fantasyland.
On the Fifth Day of Christmas …keep your skin all aglow! Winter can wreck havoc with your skin. Make this exfoliating cocoa face mask at home to help your skin sparkle! Mix together 3 tbsp of cocoa powder, 3 tbsp of plain natural yogurt, 1 ½ tbsp of runny honey and 1 ½ tbsp of porridge oats. Apply the mixture to your face for 10-15 minutes, and rinse.
On the Sixth Day of Christmas … know your limits! You’ve probably heard the saying ‘a little of what you fancy can do you good’. Red wine, for example, is particularly good for your heart if you stay within the recommended amounts! Experts recommended limits are 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men, regardless of body weight.
One unit contains 8g or 10ml of alcohol, for example:
- ½ pint ordinary strength beer, lager or cider
- 1 pub measure (50ml) of sherry, vermouth, liqueur
- 1 pub measure (25ml) of spirit, i.e. gin, vodka or whisky
- 1 small glass of wine (125ml)
On the Seventh Day of Christmas … cure a holiday hangover! Try putting a banana on your breakfast cereal or in your breakfast smoothie. Bananas are a particularly great cure after a heavy night as they help satisfy the cravings for sweet foods. Isotonic sports drinks help keep the body hydrated and help to counteract the micronutrient “washout” that may occur as a result of too much alcohol. And, eating foods high in vitamin C can give your tired body boost – oranges, grapefruit, kiwis and berries or try tomato juice as a good alternative to orange juice.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas … boost your immune system! Tis’ the season of cold and flu! Boost your immune system so you can enjoy all the festivities the Christmas season has to offer! Make sure you are eating enough carbohydrate, as it an adequate carbohydrate intake is essential in order to maintain the integrity of the immune system. Good hydration is also important for the immune system. Why not try making a simple Cock-a-Leekie soup. For one serving add 60g of uncooked rice to some sautéed leeks, chicken stock and dried thyme, simmer until the rice is cooked then add 100g of cooked chicken breast. Not only does this warm and comforting soup contain carbohydrate and protein, but will also contribute to you total fluid intake.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas …be prepared! Plan for events like parties and eating out. Decide what your plan of action will be and stick with it. For example, when eating out you will have 2 courses, not 3 and you will share your pudding. Accommodate your eating during the day to account for such events. Know what foods to avoid and which foods are your weaknesses!
On the Tenth Day of Christmas … forgive and forget! Losing weight and keeping it off is a process that involves making mistakes. It’s important to be quick to forgive yourself if you do make a mistake and learn from it. If you break your diet occasional, it’s not the end of the world, you still have control over your weight. Remember, Christmas is the time for forgiving and forgetting.
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas … trim back the trimmings! Most us overindulge over the festive period, especially on Christmas day itself. But by making a few simple swaps you can save calories without feeling deprived. Remove the skin from the turkey as this is where most of the fat is, also choose the light meat as it has slightly fewer calories than dark meat. Instead of adding bread sauce, have cranberry sauce with you Christmas turkey. Remember, fill your plate with steamed vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots and broccoli as they are packed full of vitamins and minerals. And instead of reaching for that chocolate bar when your energy is low, try to eat a piece of fruit, such as the satsuma from the bottom of your Christmas stocking.
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas …deck the halls! Taking part in some holiday cheer will not only get you in the festive sprint but will also burn calories. Put on your favorite Christmas tunes and get moving around the house putting up the tree and holiday decorations. You could also enjoy the evening holiday lights and opt for a brisk walk in the evenings with your family. Even writing Christmas cards and wrapping presents can burn extra calories.