Christmas Fat-loss Wins
Yes, with Christmas just around the corner, a post about fat-loss might leave some screaming out: "Change the record - just for a week or two", and will probably be as welcome as stale mince pies, dry turkey or flat Prosecco. But being very familiar with the effects of the festive season on those first post-Christmas weigh-ins, I'm going to give you a few tips that might just see you through yuletide unscathed on the scales.
So just how do you combine moderation with merriment, and self-control with cheer? Well, it's not as hard as it sounds, and you might even have more fun as a result.
No.1. Set a realistic post-Christmas goal.
Let's face it, at this time of year, it's unlikely you're going to lose much weight, and all but the most disciplined are likely to gain a little. So be realistic, and avoid disappointment by agreeing some achievable goals with yourself, and then writing them down. If you're training with a friend or family member, then agree a goal together, and remind each other of it frequently. As a general rule, aim to stay within 1.5 pounds of your pre-Christmas weight - which may sound a lot for those on a fat loss programme, but in cases where no goals have been set, I've seen post-Christmas gains of several pounds; the equivalent of months of work down the drain, in just a week! So a pound here or there can be seen as success, given what's likely to be on offer around the dinner table.
No.2 Don't deny yourself the things you enjoy.
Christmas is a time of year where we want to relax and have fun, and by trying to omit the things you enjoy completely, you're more likely to give in eventually and end up over-eating them. Instead, just limit the amount of these foods that are accessible, so once they're gone, they're gone. As an example: everyone's favourite, the humble mince pie, can contain nearly 300 calories in just one pie; that's over 15% of a typical daily calorie requirement in a few bites. So avoid the two-for-one offers and buy the best you can afford: less to eat, but more to look forward to.
No.3. Keep Snacks in the Kitchen.
One of the biggest temptations at Christmas is the little stuff: the nuts, crackers, mince pies, chocolate oranges and other finger food that will adorn the coffee table in the living room, where you'll probably spend most of your time after lunch. I'm not saying cut this out altogether, but by placing it in the kitchen, you're less likely to keep snacking whilst settling down to watch Elf or Home Alone. And having to get up every now and then will also increase your calorie burn a little, so it's a win-win for that all important energy deficit. Place your snacks in the smallest bowls or plates which will encourage you to take smaller portions, rather than big handfuls each time. Which brings me nicely onto:
Tip No.4. Scale down the Crockery
Have you ever noticed how there's never quite enough room on your plate at Christmas? Well there's a reason for this: you're likely to be squeezing on a bit of everything around the table. And everything around the table is likely to be far more abundant than your average Sunday roast. So rather than your usual Christmas crockery, consider using salad plates, or buying/hiring a smaller set, so there's less space to fill. And if you're an advocate of Feng-Shui, you should choose blue plates, as blue is believed to curb the appetite. Square shapes offer a more grounding energy, so square plates may slow your eating down a little too.
Tip No.5. Slow down, enjoy, and leave something on your Plate
Do you remember how, as a child, your mother or father would always remind you of those less fortunate than you iwhen you left food on your plate. Or echo the words of the Scottish school master in the Pink Floyd track ‘The Wall’: "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat!" Well they meant well, but unknowlingly may have been teaching us to lose touch with the chemical signals from our brain that told us we were full. These signals can take 20 minutes to be registered, so by wolfing everything down quickly, we can reach satiety well before we realise it, leaving us feeling stuffed later in the afternoon. So practice mindful eating, and savour every bite: place down your knife and fork between morsels, chew slowly and enjoy the flavours & aromas of the food. Once you feel satisfied, leave what's left on your plate; forcing it down is not going to prevent waste, as it'll just end up as wasted energy your body probably doesn't need anyway. Instead, set it aside in a Tupperware box and enjoy another day.
Tip No.6 Go easy on the drink.
Whatever your tipple, at Christmas there's a good chance you'll be enjoying a little more of it. And a few innocent drinks can really add up in the calorie stakes after a few days of celebration. Many clients ask me what the healthiest alcoholic drinks are, and the answer is simple, really: There aren't any! But if you are going to drink, there are less unhealthy ways you can enjoy alcohol, whilst limiting any weight gain over the Christmas period.
1. Go long and make it last.
If you enjoy spirits, then stick to small measures in tall glasses, topped up with water, ice or low calorie mixers. This way your drink will last longer, and you may drink less as a result.
2. Swap white wine for a spritzer.
Instead of filling your wine glass with wine alone, try a refreshing spritzer, by topping up a small measure with sparkling water, low calorie lemonade and ice.
3. Try low or zero alcohol beers.
There are some great tasting zero or low alcohol beers available now with at least half the calories of their alcoholic equivalent.
Tip No. 7 Take some exercise.
Last, but not least: use your time with family and friends to get out and enjoy some fresh air. Take a walk before dinner to kick start your metabolism, lift your mood, and burn some extra calories. Or if the weather outside is frightful, push aside the furniture in the living room, put on your favourite Christmas tunes, and dance the night away. An hour of boogieing might burn 400 calories if you're really energetic, and may even leave you feeling less hungry too.
Thanks for reading, and have a very happy and healthy Christmas,