The festive season is rapidly approaching (or already started as soon as Halloween was done and dusted, depending on which group you fall into).
It’s a time synonymous with mince pies, black pudding and mulled wine. And Christmas parties. Multiple, messy, Christmas parties.
Not exactly an abundance of activities that you’d commonly associate with fat-loss, is it?
If you’re familiar at all with the Luke Bremner blog, you’ll be aware our approach is a touch different than that of the more… regimented coaches.
You see we believe in results. We’re a results driven company at that.
But we also believe in balance.
In creating a body you’re proud of, that functions well and is full of energy. But also living a life that doesn’t have you crying into Tupperware on your sixth serving of chicken breast and broccoli of the day.
So, with that in mind, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the following before the holiday season really gets going:
One Week Of Eating, Drinking & Enjoying Your Time With Your Family & Friends Won’t Negate All The Hard Work You’ve Already Done.
I’m a relatively disciplined guy. On an average week I’d say 80-90% of my meals are created through real, whole foods (check this out as to why that’s a great thing: How To Create The Perfect Weight-Loss Meal).
But during the holiday period? Well, that may tilt slightly more towards a 70/30 split… (Maybe as far as 90/10 the other way on Christmas day 😉 ).
And I’m able to do this, guilt-free, because I recognise that such eating patterns aren’t habits. They’re an acknowledged tradition that I’m able to partake in without feeling like I need to perform countless burpees to ‘offset’ the damage.
But one other reason I allow myself such flexibility going into the heart of the holiday season?
Is that I ensure leading up to the true festivities, that I hit the following rules, so that my body fat has actually dropped throughout December (so i’m in a great place come January Fir… actually no, I’ll feel horrible on the first. January second. I’ll be in a great place from January second).
1) Schedule Your Training At The Start Of Every Week
The holiday season is busy. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to go to 15 hot yoga sessions a week, in between spin classes and weight training.
Time is (usually) a little more sparse.
So, how can you make sure you’re able to fit your training sessions in?
Create an appointment with yourself (or a trainer) and treat it like a trip to the Dentist (that you’ll be charged for if you miss).
At the start of every week look at your calendar (either real world, or on your smartphone) and slot in exactly where your training sessions are going to go.
Maybe you can make it work the exact same time each week, or maybe you’ll need a little more flexibility during the festive season. Either way? Book. Them. In.
Then do not allow anything (within reason) to stop you from training.
You want to keep up with any children in the family on Christmas day?
Well, you probably won’t. BUT putting the time in to train in the build up will put you in the best possible position to try!
2) Have A ‘Back Up Session’
So I’d love to assume with the aforementioned scheduling, you’ll never miss a workout.
BUT I also understand the burden that can be suddenly placed on you, when it becomes apparent that no-one had organised picking Great Aunt Judith up from the airport.
Life can get hectic during these celebratory times, and time can become sparse at in the blink of an eye.
Which is exactly why it’s a great idea to have a go to session you can complete in half the time a full gym session would take- check out an example here: 25 Minute Fat Burning Workout.
Or something as simple as a bodyweight Tabata* could be enough to get your blood flowing, calories burning, and give you the energy to sprint to the airport to pick up poor abandoned Judith.
*(The Tabata protocol involves 20 seconds on intense exercise followed by a 10 second rest, repeated 8 time. You could, for example, complete a tabata with jump squats and push ups if you were in a pinch).
3) Stay Hydrated
Ok, I’ll put my hands up and admit this one- it’s a fairly boring and over-stated sentiment.
The holiday season is filled with special coffee and warmed booze offers left, right and centre. Why isn’t water getting any love?
Personally, I have a festive water bottle I bust out December first every single year (it’s 750 mls, so I make sure I get through it at least 4 times per day).
So not only do I harness the increased fat-burning properties associated with liquid intake (more on that here: Is Water The Secret To Your Weight Loss?), I’m ALSO making myself smile with every sip, and spreading the festive cheer.
I’m like a well hydrated Elf, and I encourage you to be the same.
4) Learn To Order For Fat Loss At A Restaurant
Again I think it’s be remiss not to reference back to the underlying principles of the season: if it’s not a constant activity, then you can treat yourself to the pie and ice cream you’ve been craving!
But, we’ll continue on the assumption you have a fat loss goal, and that eating out over the holiday period is representing a large enough percentage of your meals to justify needing a solid strategy to avoid meals that may sabotage your efforts.
Here are a few sentences you could add to your repertoire in order to better equip yourself for fat-loss whilst eating out:
“I’ll just have a water please”
“Could you please replace my fries with vegetables?”
“Could I have my salad dressing on the side?”
“No thank you, I’m not sure I’ll eat enough to justify your dessert buffet”
All are simple methods to help avoid overeating too often as you find yourself dining out more frequently (although remember the 80/20 rule for ‘healthy’ Vs ‘Indulgence’ foods).
5) Stick With These Booze Rules
Perhaps the biggest culprit for added pounds over December and New Years- the booze.
If you were preparing for Mr Olympia, maybe I’d suggest forgoing the drink entirely. But chances are you aren’t, and you want to treat yourself a little over Christmas.
So, here are a few simple methods to ensure it’s not too ‘damaging’ to your waistline:
- Drink water between every alcohol beverage (this will also help with the hangover)
- Stick with spirits and a low calorie mixer (gin & tonic for example)
- Avoid shots… there’s no science here, it just very rarely ends well.
I feel better when I eat well, I stay hydrated, I sleep well, and I’m training.
I want to feel like the best version of me when I’m seeing friends and family over the Christmas period, so I keep those habits up.
Do I allow myself to overindulge when I’m celebrating with my loved ones?
But establishing healthy habits and sticking with them the majority of the time grants you the freedom to let go once in a while with little fear of the repercussions.
Look, if you follow the 5 rules above, there’s every chance you’ll enter 2018 in better shape than you are right now.
And if you do put on a pound or two during the festivities?
Well, you’re a human, and you’re meant to have fun- we can always lose it next year!
We should all take time to switch off and recharge at special occasions. The last thing we need is to come back to normality feeling stressed or guilty because we weren’t able to keep up with our usual health and fitness routine.
Here at Luke Bremner Fitness we specialise in working with busy professionals and business owners, so we understand the importance of really being able to relax when we do get time off, whilst remaining healthy and active where possible.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.