Late December can be a stressful time for many, especially if you have aspirations to improve your fitness and health in the new year. Multiple three-course meals, calorific drinks, and endless snacking can leave you feeling frustrated in early January.
I wanted to share a few tips I have used to allow me to keep on top of my weight and wellbeing, whilst also enjoying everything the festive period has to offer!
TRE or ‘Intermittent Fasting’ as it is commonly known, is a window of time in the day when you can consume calories, and a larger window of time when you can’t.
The most popular is the 16/8 split, i.e. 16 hours when you DON’T eat, 8 hours when you do.
You may choose your 8 hour ‘eating window’ to be from 12 - 8pm, but others may prefer earlier in the day, it’s up to you.
I implemented a slightly more relaxed version of this last Christmas whereby I fasted until around midday / 1pm, but sometimes we would still be eating or drinking until early the next morning! This helped keep my calories slightly more controlled throughout the day, without restricting myself from enjoying the nice Christmas food in the evenings.
The additional benefit with TRE is your gut gets some rest, which is when a cool thing happens...
When you are consuming calories from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, the gut is constantly having to work. When there is a large enough window of time when the gut is ‘resting' (around 16 hours) it begins to focus on more productive tasks like autophagy, which is the body’s process of cleaning out damaged cells, including pre-cancerous cells, and replacing them with newer, healthier cells. Sounds good to me!
If you are planning on doing a bit of exercise over the Christmas period, first thing in the morning is best. Most likely you will be seated for the majority of the afternoon and evening, whether that is around the dinner table, on the sofa, or at the pub!
I would either do a quick workout using whatever old gym kit was left at my parents, or get out for a run or long walk with the family.
It can be as simple as:
20 x Push ups
20 x Back Extensions
20 x Jumping Lunges
It is worth noting, this would also be done fasted, so by midday I had usually burnt around 1500 calories and had yet to dig into the calorific food and drink. Bring on the Baileys!
Have some time to yourself.
For most of us the festive period is about spending time with family, however, if you travelling back and forth between your parents and your in-laws, you can find you never really have a moment alone, arriving at January 1st feeling mentally and physically drained!
For me, exercise doubled up as time to myself, especially when doing cardio as it is almost meditative. It can be as simple as reading a book, or going for a walk by yourself.
This can be a great opportunity to practise some simple mindfulness techniques such as savouring, or run through in your head some reasons you are grateful. Taking stock, breathing, being thankful, this can put you in a really good mood and enhance the rest of your time with the family.
Remember, the festive break only accounts for about 1/52 of the year, so first and foremost, enjoy it.
Hope everyone has a good festive period! Does anyone have any other good tips?