If the election hasn’t distracted you too much, you may have noticed it’s just over a week until Christmas! That’s like seven more sleeps until the big man comes down your chimney and eats your mince pies, and probably Rudolph’s carrot. Yeah, I’m on to you Santa…
So that means that we need to be prepared. Not for Santa eating your mince pies… just to be clear!
I’m going to give you five top tips to get through that Christmas period without gaining the usual five, six, seven, even ten, or twelve pounds that people gain over that week (yeah, week! Which often turns into a fortnight, which just makes things worse) While still having a great time and enjoying yourself.
- If you’re going out to a Christmas party, eat first! And let’s face it, even party might be an exaggeration, it might just be going to see family to be gluttonous (like we always are at Christmas) because, you know, it’s Christmas! We can eat chocolate for breakfast and that’s OK, and drink ourselves into a coma before lunchtime, and that’s par for the course.
So before you go out, eat, (and, keep it simple) I would have a combination of a boiled egg, whether hard boiled or soft boiled, your choice, and a hot drink like hot chocolate, or tea or coffee, that kind of thing. This is a killer combination because the protein and the fat in the boiled egg will help to kill your hunger straight away. It won’t get you full, we’re not trying to fill you up before you eat, but it will take away the hunger so you’re not going in ravenous. It’s a bit like shopping on an empty stomach, i.e. something that you don’t want to do!
The combination of that and the hot drink will control the serotonin levels in your brain which make you feel hungry. Long-story short, you won’t just walk into a Christmas meal ready to eat a scabby donkey. You’ll be a little bit less likely to just binge on anything and everything, so first thing, eat that combination before you go out.
- Secondly, don’t think just because it’s Christmas, you want to skip all your workouts. You don’t have to do your usual workout or anything, but what you want to try and do instead is a short metabolic resistance workout. It doesn’t even need to take more than four or five minutes. Literally, it can be very, very short. We want to do a workout which creates what’s called an afterburn effect. Technical term for this is EPOC: Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. We tend to call it afterburn, because that’s just much, much sexier.
In simple terms, though, what it does is kick in the fat burners, i.e. boost your metabolism for anything from 12 to 48 hours after you’ve finished your workout, depending on the study, and depending on the intensity as well.
- The next thing to do is to work out early. There’s a couple of advantages to this. Just basically get up, work out. Even if you have to get up five minutes earlier. Five minutes is nothing to do that workout. There’s a couple of reasons why this works so well.
First of all, working out in the morning, we know actually increases the afterburn effect. There’s been a bunch of studies that show that.
Secondly, if you work out early and just get it out of the way, even while everyone else is still in bed, for the sake of that extra five or ten minutes on your alarm, then you won’t come into the barrage of all the crabs out there that will be like, “Oh, but it’s Christmas. Why are you working out??” Not that you have to work out on Christmas day necessarily, but over this period people will expect you to be fully in touch with your inner sloth.
There’s also an added bonus to doing it early. Not just the afterburn pumping up your metabolism, but if you drink water while working out (which you should, by the way…) we know that if you drink water first thing in the morning, it can rapidly increase your metabolism for that first hour as well. Double bubble!
- Work in activity to your day in general, because we know just by working in general activity, we can again increase your metabolism for the duration of that day, at the very least. The technical term for this is NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis).
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple. Do things like, do some squats while you’re washing dishes (or loading the dishwasher because, you know, it is the 21st century…), or run up stairs, or take them two at a time, that kind of thing.
Don’t over-complicate this. All we’re doing is we’re just trying to push your metabolism up just a little bit so it’s just ticking over at a faster rate during this festive period.
- Aaaaand lastly… Go for a walk after dinner. Studies have shown that while we’re digesting, very light exercise also increases what’s called thermogenesis (which is just a fancy-pants word for fat burning) during that period. Basically, half an hour, once you’ve finished eating wherever you happen to be, like, your family home or whatever. Once you’ve had that big Christmas dinner on however many days over the next two weeks that you’ll probably be having something similar, get up, go for a walk.
All of those things in combination… the afterburn effect of your workout will raise your metabolism over the next 48 hours, if you work out earlier in the day, that will push it up a little bit more, getting in a little bit of activity over the course of the day will push it up a tiny bit more, and so on, are pushing up the amount of calories you’re burning on a daily basis and that is what’s going to keep you in shape over Christmas!
So, let’s do this. Just because it’s Christmas, it’s fine. We don’t have to let it ruin our fun. We want to have as much fun as possible, but we also don’t want to start January with an extra 10 pounds that we now have to get off before we’re even back to square one.
Have an awesome Christmas.