My clients ask me every year how they can stick to their nutrition and exercise plans over Christmas and still enjoy themselves. So, Is it possible to embrace Christmas without turning into a Christmas pudding? Hell yes! The answer is simple, maintain structure and don’t go overboard.

Calories out
Firstly get a copy of your gyms opening hours over the holidays and plan when you can train. One of the biggest excuses I hear is ‘the gym wasn’t open’ or ‘when it was I had so much to do and loads going on’
Don’t let this be you, plan around your day and ensure you make time to exercise. Be organised and don’t let your output drop. If your calories are going to be up slightly then the last thing you want to do is reduce the amount your burning off as well!
The best time to train for me is first thing. I always have my days packed with family events and day trips with friends so hitting the gym early means it’s covered and out of the way, leaving me free to socialise and enjoy my day.
Failing this there’s always Home workouts. If your gym is closed then training in the living room can be just as effective. Use your body weight or even small dumbbells and resistance bands if you have them. Put together a mini circuit working all the big muscle groups and keeping rest to a minimum. In fact, put bands and dumbbells on your Christmas list right now!
Another way to increase calories burned is to add extra exercise into your day. I advise my clients to incorporate HIIT (high intensity interval training) into their day along side their resistance training. This can be done at any time and anywhere. Try this HIIT workout using just your body weight.

-30seconds high knees
-30seconds burpees
-30seconds mountain climbers
-30seconds jacks

Work continuously for 2 minutes giving your all and switching exercises every 30seconds. Then take a 1-2 minute recovery depending on fitness levels. Repeat this circuit for 5 rounds giving a total workout time of 15minutes. If you do this right you should be totally wiped by the end! Please don’t undertake this however if you aren’t at full health or used to training at this intensity.

My final tip for increasing your output is simply to keep active through the day. Why not include long walks or bike rides into your days. Or even trips out to trampoline parks and spots centres for swimming and climbing. Or even indoor ski slopes! There are so many fun things to do that will keep you active and entertained. Not everything needs to revolve around food and drink to be fun. Look, if all else fails at least walk to the pub and back rather than driving! What I’m trying to say is that it is possible to burn off those extra calories that you will inevitably be putting in.

Calories in
We all want to enjoy extra food and drink over Christmas, me included! So how can we control calories in so we don’t sacrifice our health and our waistline too much?
I tell my clients to use the 80/20 rule over the holidays. Stick to plan for 80% of the day where you can but allow that 20% leeway and freedom for that meal out, mince pie, glass of baileys or all three! If you follow the exercise advice from above then a few days eating like this over Christmas won’t set you back weeks and months In training or leave your with a big fat loss and fitness challenge come the new year.
On plan off plan meals. What are these? This is something I use regularly to ensure social lives are not affected when dieting. Over the festive period when social events or meals out sometimes happen 2 or 3 times a day these will prove very useful! Especially when adhering to the 80/20 rule. Say your out for tea one evening but a friend wants to meet for breakfast that morning as well. You don’t want to miss out but you also don’t want to over indulge. Simply chose a sensible option and pick a place that’s accommodating. For example have an omelette with some breakfast veggies or smoked salmon with asparagus and avocado. Your technically off plan and eating out but what you have chosen is healthy and nutritious and very much on plan! The same would work for an evening meal. Ring ahead and ask that the chef cook you steak without a sauce or some sea bass and some steamed seasonal veggies! Easy, on plan off plan meal. It will taste a damn site better than your cooking, or at least mine, and you don’t miss out on a social event or take on yet another excessive meal. Plus no washing up!
When it comes to alcohol over the Christmas period this can be managed with moderation and choice. You don’t need to get blind drunk every night but if you do then go for a mixer with diet soda. Things like vodka, lime and lemonade or JD and Coke are far Lower in calories than say a beer or a glass of wine. Gin and tonic is another great choice and prosecco too!

Okay, so ultimately you can have your Christmas cake and eat it as long as your mindful of exercise, food/ alcohol selection and moderation. Don’t stress over it but practice balance. Have a little bit of what you fancy but stay accountable. I like to look at it this way. You would be very annoyed if you got to the end of your Christmas break and wished you did more. You don’t want to feel you missed out or had to restrict yourself and now you have to wait another year! Similarly you would Also be very annoyed if you got to the end and you had let yourself get completely out of shape! So make sure you don’t do either by following the simple rules above!

Merry Christmas! GBPT