5 Simple Ways to Avoid Putting on Too Much Weight at Christmas

This is Christmas.

It’s winter, it’s cold, the days are shorter, the nights longer.

There’s nothing more comforting than snuggling under a blanket on your sofa, with a bowl of something naughty and binge watching the 24-hour Christmas channel. The other scenario might be that you’re out partying, surrounded by copious amounts of food and drink.

What’s the issue? It is only once a year after all.

Let’s also consider that the overindulgence doesn’t just happen on Christmas Day. Socialising starts way before that and continues well into the New Year.

This is the issue.

Add lack of sleep, stress, and adrenalin to the picture and after all the seasonal jolliness, you’ll not only feel sluggish and heavy, but you may feel wiped out too; as demotivated as a deflated balloon.

Statistics show that the average ‘festive’ weight gain is around half a stone and it’s no mean feat trying to lose those extra pounds in January, when the only recent motivation you might have had involved ‘marathon’ wrapping the presents. And exercise, if any, may have included walking to the pub.

The after effects will hit you like a brick wall. The sudden realisation that you no longer fit into your pre-Christmas clothes will send you into a state of disappointment and self-loathing.

How can we help ourselves avoid this sorry state of affairs? How do we stop getting sucked into the Christmas vortex of overindulgence year after year?

I’ve been thinking outside of the box and have come up with some ways you can make your life a little better over the festive period.

  1. Be Prepared – Mentally and Physically

We know it’s coming so there’s no excuse to be running around at the last minute and yet we all do it to ourselves. Make lists, get family to help, shop online or organise a Secret Santa instead of traipsing round the shops wondering what to buy the aunt who has everything.

While the original meaning of Christmas may not be the main focus, we can still allow ourselves time and space to unwind, take quality time off work, spend relaxation time with family and friends, eat well, exercise moderately and generally spread love and good will.

Keep it simple and as stress free as possible because any rushing about usually means eating and drinking on the hop.

  1. Don’t stock up your house with food and drink unless you know it won’t be you eating it all

Next time you’re in the supermarket, just take a moment to look around; you can’t help but notice the sheer quantity of festive fayre. There are mince pies, Christmas puddings, cheese, nibbles, chocolate, alcohol, and soft drinks, just to name a few items; festively packaged, a feast for the eyes, glittery and sparkly; it’s all in abundance and stacked high. It’s the most sociable time of the year, so we’re naturally drawn to it, believing we need to stockpile for our party, or stuff the sideboard with goodies just in case the neighbours drop by unexpectedly.

Here’s the deal – less is more. Be different is what I say.

Be fussy and choosy about what you buy. Pick up a few choice items and make sure it’s quality food. With thought and preparation, you can buy low alcohol drinks, make healthier dishes for your party and stock up on healthy snacks. You will feel amazing knowing that you’ve not only resisted falling into the trap of buying unnecessary processed food, but you will have probably saved yourself a lot of money.

  1. Give away all your gifts of chocolate and drink

If there’s one thing that I don’t enjoy, it’s the gift of chocolate at Christmas or at any other time. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, my family and friends are well versed not to bother buying me confectionery gifts of any description.

So, you’ve just received another load of chocolate and your eyes glaze over at the realisation that you have a stack of it. The thought of subjecting yourself to the 5th chocolate bingeing session in the week before Christmas makes you want to weep.

Here’s an idea.

Sharing is caring and more importantly you need to consider damage limitation, so why not take the huge box of Thorntons to a party or into work and spread the love of chocolate there. You could even donate any surplus chocolate to a local hospital, a care home, or any other establishment where there are lots of mouths to feed. Just get it out of your house basically!

  1. Find a short workout that pushes your button

Unless you’re a self-disciplined and self-motivated individual, what is the chance of doing any exercise over the festive period? Even personal trainers take a break, but the difference is that they’re one step ahead of the average person. A half decent trainer will practice at least half of what they preach and keep their eye on the ball by watching what they eat and doing some exercise. I’m not talking full on, daily workouts but something that will keep them ticking over.

Rather than saying to my clients, you really should keep up those 5 x 30 min HIIT workouts for the next week or so, I like to be realistic. I appreciate life is stressful and let’s face it, we just want to be carefree and let our hair down.

So, let’s simplify this. All you’d need to do is a daily, short, pulse-raising workout lasting just 15 minutes and one that uses several muscle groups. This would probably be just enough to tide you over Christmas and New Year.

Now, that sounds like a deal, doesn’t it? It’s called keeping it real.

  1. Just say ‘no’

It’s a bit harsh, I know, but consider this. In the period leading up to Christmas, during and at New Year, how many times do you refuse what’s being offered to you, be it food or drink?

As much as you’d like the willpower to say ‘no’ to your fourth sausage roll and your third mince pie in an hour, overeating has taken over your subconscious mind and you just don’t have it in you.

However, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

In other words, you can do it, by being in the present and making conscious decisions and choices.

It feels like everywhere you go, everyone is hell bent on sabotaging your good intentions. In truth, you alone are accountable for your actions because although it may feel like you’re being made to overeat, no one is force feeding you.

Would you rather abstain from something, feel dead proud of yourself and not worry about what others may think of you or are you going to beat yourself up in January? Will it be deja vu, just like the previous years, join the masses queuing up for the treadmill in the gym and frantically try to shift that extra half a stone?

Now that’s harsh. So why not be kind to yourself for a change?

‘Yes please’ or ‘no thank you’ is a state of mind, and like most things in life, a very fine line between self-control and not really giving two hoots.

We need to remember that the brain is a muscle; it can be worked and trained just like any other muscle in your body. Once you’ve learned to say no a few times, it gets easier and there’s no better feeling than knowing you had a great time over Christmas and that come January, you’re going to be just fine.

Pace yourself. That way, you really will have a Happy New Year!