With the holiday season close at hand, you can be assured of two things: joyous gatherings with family and friends, and a considerable spike in calorie intake. The festive season is also the height of summer here in Australia, which means that you particularly don't want to begin bulking out around the midsection! So it’s even more important to keep on track throughout the parties, high-teas and boozy get-togethers!
Thankfully, there are few pre-emptive habits and behaviours you can commit to during "silly season" this year, which will ensure that you can participate in holiday celebrations without ending up with a waistline like Santa Claus.
Workout in the morning
During the party season you’ll likely have events cropping up many evenings after work and most weekends – which leaves little time for working out after work or on the weekend when you usually would hit the treadmill. So by getting up a little earlier and switching your workouts to the morning time, you might even get better results than before! This is because working out in the morning can activate your body's metabolic calorie burning response for the day. So before you begin your day, engage in a 30-minute workout, and the "after burn" effect throughout the day can help create a caloric deficit that you will undoubtedly fill later at one of many holiday gatherings.
Workout at home
Those early mornings will be ten times harder if you have to get yourself out to the gym before work. Instead why not invest in some home gym equipment – either as an early Christmas gift from you to a healthier you, or add it to your wish list from friends and family.
But if you find those too much of a financial investment, or have you don’t have the space for one, don’t let that stop you. You can still achieve effective fat-burning exercise if you're on a budget.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a proven method for staying fit, and it can be performed virtually anywhere. Using a set of adjustable dumbbells, you can hold one in each hand in a "clean" position and do rapid squats for 30 seconds, then put the weights down while walking to and fro (active recovery), and then repeat the cycle five to ten times. Even with nothing more than a simple weight bench or an exercise mat, you can achieve the same results by doing consecutive sets of resistance routines or burpees at an intense rate.
Be realistic, but stick to your goals
With late nights and boozy parties, you may not be able to stick to those morning workouts EVERY day, so be realistic with yourself. If you need to miss a few workouts that’s fine, but don’t throw the whole diet and routine out the window just because of a few bad days. If you need to be a little easier on yourself and cut down your workouts to three or four times a week instead of daily, then make sure you really do commit to those reduced days and put your all in while you’re doing it. This will help to keep you on track and keep the habit of working out as an important part of your daily life.
When the time comes to enjoy a meal, make a policy to begin with fresh fruits and vegetables. These healthier choices will help fill you up before you dig into the delicious, yet carb-heavy foods and sugar-packed desserts. For your main course, choose more lean protein like prawns, fish, ham, chicken and beef, and less carbohydrates like bread and pasta. If your celebration features a buffet, choose the smallest plate you can find before making your approach - and resist the temptation to make multiple visits to the food line.
Know when to say no
Although there is intense social pressure to make it to every single festive get-together, don’t be afraid to decline a few invitations for the sake of your well-being. Although this sounds like no fun, if you've been celebrating in abundance you might just need to give yourself a break. It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of celebrations and lose sight of yourself. Limit your attendance to parties to somewhere between one and three per week, but no more. While you're practicing restraint, remember that adult beverages like wine and beer are high in calories, so if you're feeling "spirited" consider the low calorie option of vodka, lime and soda.