From sweet mulled wine to a few too many mince pies, it’s easy to gain weight at Christmas.
Indeed, between work Christmas parties, boozy catch-ups with friends, all the treats passed around the office throughout December – then Christmas dinner itself – it can be an effort not to pile on the pounds.
But how can we get the balance between enjoying the festive period and not feeling wrecked with guilt about it?
Writing for Get The Gloss, Max Lowery, a 27-year-old personal trainer from London – and former competitive sprinter, ex-model and author of The 2 Meal Day – gives his tips.
Scroll down for Mr Lowery’s seven-minute work out video to squeeze in between the Christmas splurges.
It’s easy to gain weight at Christmas and something most of us struggle with (stock image)
Personal trainer Max Lowery gives his advice to stop you gaining weight or obsessing over it
1. Keep it real
Punishing yourself for not making it to gym in the Christmas run up? Got mince pie regret already? Stop right there. Mr Lowery believes that half the problem with the pre-Christmas/New Year panic is extreme attitudes to health and fitness.
He said: ‘When it comes to the festive season, a lot of people find themselves polarising their thoughts on diet and exercise… either “I have to avoid every temptation to keep my fitness journey or track” or “I’m going to give up on exercising and eating right and pick it up again on 2nd January!”‘
However, there is an in-between. And while that elusive balance can be difficult to achieve, having a go is far preferable to beating yourself up about forgoing your usual fitness routine or checking out of the fun altogether. Which leads us to…
2. Workout and play on the same day
Aim to exercise three times a week if possible, but that doesn’t have to mean sweating it out during an intense spin class or attempting a 10K – you can nail an effective workout in under 10 minutes (as you’ll see from the video below).
Mr Lowery finds that, for himself and his clients, planning a workout on the same day as an event or Christmas party has the most payoff, as you’ll be left feeling energised and full of endorphins for the evening’s shenanigans, plus your metabolism will be firing on full so that any party buffet that follows is less likely to make any kind of dent in your fitness gains.
The former competitive sprinter said you can nail an effective workout in under 10 minutes
He said: ‘On the days I’m exercising and indulging I can let my hair down and enjoy what’s on offer, but on the days that I’m not indulging so much, I aim to eat more healthy fats and protein, and less carbohydrates – especially processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, crisps, biscuits and milk chocolate.’
3. Eat pies and party
‘Never deny yourself the sausage rolls or a slice of yule’ advises Mr Lowery – but not every day over the festive period
Never deny yourself the sausage rolls or a slice of yule log, but keep festive fayre for celebrations rather than grazing on Quality Street for two weeks straight. Mr Lowery advises.
‘Filling up on healthy fats and proteins before you go out to a Christmas party can be a great way of keeping things in check and making sure you’re not ravenous when you arrive. I like boiled eggs, salmon fillets or avocado, but it’s up to you.
‘Over the Christmas period, also try to set yourself the general rule that you mainly tuck into festive treats like mince pies, Christmas pudding and chocolate when you are at a Christmas party, festive dinner or celebratory event.
‘You can assume that all of these treats will be on offer on these occasions and it means that your sweet tooth won’t transfer over into every day. You’ll feel satisfied, not sick or stuffed.’
Listening to your body and only eating when you’re hungry sounds basic but it can prove a bit tricky at this time of year – if you’ve had a big meal and don’t feel like breakfast the next morning, wait until you do feel hungry, which will not only make you feel more comfortable, but will help in terms of not bombarding the body with food or storing too much fat.
Because, let’s face it, it is possible to get sick of the sight of a mince pie. Keep the magic alive by not eating five at once. Which kind of applies to the next topic too…
THE CALORIE COUNT OF CHRISTMAS DAY
Unsurprisingly, the worst day for calorie consumption is Christmas day itself when most us unwittingly consume a shocking 7000 calories – and hit the recommended daily allowance before sitting down to Christmas dinner.
According to new research, by 2.08pm, most of us will have consumed our daily calorie allowance (2000 kcals for women, 2500kcals for men).
Starting with a 135-calorie celebratory breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, the gluttonous day usually ends with two mince pies – another 460 calories.
But although Christmas lunch has the highest calorie count, the real pitfall is snacking with abundant chocolate, nuts and biscuits heaping on thousands of extra calories.
But Max recommends you get a balance by allowing yourself to splurge at set celebrations rather than falling into gorging on chocolates and mince pies for two weeks straight.
Just one day of 7,000 calories will not lead to much weight gain, if any – nothing a few days of going careful can’t even out.
4. Appreciate alcohol without downing it
Mr Lowery’s stance on this is kind of common sense, but finding booze you actually enjoy and sipping it, in a quality over quantity manner, is the best way forward for both health and general party vibes.
He also repeats ‘I am not going to get drunk’ to himself just to reinforce the message. Whatever works to stay on the right side of tispy.
For him, shots are always his downfall, so if he’s having tequila, he’s adding lime and soda and sipping it. Avoiding too many sugar laden mixers can help to ease the hangover the next day, and if you suffer badly with bloating, go easy on the beers.
Minimise any adverse reactions to alcohol by staying hydrated (boring but necessary), and try to drink around two litres of water a day anyway, possibly more if you have been particularly dedicated on the workout front.
If you’re keen to avoid drinking altogether, at least for a few nights a week, Mr Lowery recommends planning in a morning walk/workout or coffee commitment with a friend that you won’t want to bail on – that way you needn’t over justify why you’re not drinking to festive punch pushers, and if you are drinking you’re more likely to keep a lid on things.
Minimise any adverse reactions to alcohol by staying hydrated, says Mr Lowery
5. Try the seven-minute workout
Mr Lowery has devised a sub 10 minute sweat session that you can easily fit in here and there over the festive period.
And while in his view there’s no right or wrong way to workout when you’re busy or over Christmas, sticking to shorter, more intense workouts can payoff in terms of time, stress levels and chances of it realistically happening.
The fitness fan’s take-home message is every little helps – and it’s important to be realistic
Follow this seven-minute workout video below for a no equipment needed blast that will get your heart rate up.
Working hard for a short amount of time could also pay off more than you might think in terms of stabilising your weight and keeping blood sugar levels even over the Christmas period too.
Mr Lowery said: ‘Intense exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, meaning that the body requires less insulin to normalise blood sugar levels.’
‘Seeing as high levels of insulin are associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease and other health issues, having a good sensitivity to insulin is generally a positive thing for our health.’
So the take-home message is every little helps – master the moves below and it won’t matter one bit that you’re not making it to the gym or running marathon.