Have you worked hard this year to build a healthier body and mind?

Are you worried that your waistline and physique might suffer from the Christmas bulge?

Do you (traditionally) embrace New Year’s resolutions, using this communal trigger to propel yourself towards a happier, trimmer version of yourself?

Would you like to smooth the path from here and now, to then? To avoid festive weight gain and a loss of fitness? To prevent the usual number of steps taken backward?

With the end of the year in sight, now is the perfect time to strategize. To implement a considered framework; one that will support you through the Christmas period so you hit 2023 running… From the best position, instead of starting from behind.

See, weight gain over the Christmas period is common. One study found that people gained an average of just over two pounds during this period. Diastolic blood pressure rose as well. The authors believed the explanation may lay in negative changes to insulin secretion or resistance.

But you can avoid this danger...

As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power”. By understanding the expected norm, we can avoid the pitfalls. We can put in place strategies that enable us to enjoy the festive season and come out the other side on fire, not flabby.


Here are our top 7 steps…

Stay active 

It’s easy to adopt a festive sedentary stance. With large celebratory meals, countless gatherings, church masses, performances, and a schedule that differs from the norm it’s no wonder your schedule might get thrown out of whack.

Staying active might require some thought. But it’s well worth the effort. Otherwise, Christmas holidays can lead to a significant drop in activity and fitness.

Aim to:

— Exercise in your free time. Got earlier mornings or later nights? Great! (So long as it fits)

— Enjoy a stroll during your lunchtimes

— Hold a squat or two while on the phone with a loved one

— Schedule walking catchups or meetings

— Walk an extra few blocks to a gathering

— Dance to your favorite carols

— Ride your bike to church

— Take the stairs

And where possible, stick to your usual routine.

Switch up your food habits

With so much food readily available during the festive season, how can you keep temptation at bay?

— Include ample fiber and protein. These two macronutrients may reduce appetite and help to avoid overconsumption

— Limit your intake of junk food

— Consider plating a smaller serve. Portion size matters

— Snack on fruit rather than tubs full of ice cream and bags full of chocolate

— Switch ingredients and products for healthier ones…

For example, instead of always choosing sweet beverages, intermittently enjoy a tea or glass of water. Choose fruit salad with a dollop of Greek yogurt for dessert, instead of non-stop rich cakes and cream.

Sleep well

Have you noticed that when you’re tired, resisting sweet or fatty foods is nigh on impossible?

A lack of quality sleep is known to increase hunger and food cravings. Yes, even one night of curtailed sleep diminishes restraint.

A study published in the journal, Nutrients, compared appetite and food consumption in those who slept a full night with those who spent 1/3 of the night out of bed. The results were marked. Reduced sleep triggered the selection of larger portion sizes and the consumption of significantly more chocolate.

If you have a function or shared meal planned, aim to sleep well the night before.

Soothe your stress

Do you experience stress from the festive season?

Or has your year been challenging?

Stress — particularly the long-term stress that often accompanies people into their Christmas holidays — “may result in changes that promote elevated desires for and increased consumption of hyperpalatable foods.”

In other words, food lust can strike! Saying no becomes harder, particularly to fatty and sugar-laden foods. Yes, just like the foods you’ll find on many festive tables.

Need help to soothe your stress?

Check out our article, 7 Easy Ways To Reduce Stress, for simple, effective advice.

Weigh yourself regularly

The number on the scales is rigid and honest. So, weighing yourself means you can’t hide from the truth. You can use this to your advantage.

A study published in the journal, BMJ, investigated weight gain over the festive season. The authors found that regularly weighing in, as well as knowing how much physical activity is required to burn off additional festive calories, prevents weight gain over the Christmas holiday period.

How often should you weigh yourself?

Twice weekly (or more) is ideal.

Expect (and plan for) obstacles

Christmas is a time to relax and embrace joy, love, and yourself. It’s not the moment to practice harshness and judgment. Yet, we often label ourselves as failures because we falter. For example…

You might eat a piece of cake you’d told yourself you wouldn’t. You may down too much tipple just because it’s there. You may delight in handfuls of candy and then feel guilty about your inability to refuse.

Please, remember: You are human. So are your drives. And your drives can push you to consume, especially in the presence of delectables. Instead of chastising yourself, put in place realistic expectations. Then plan for them.

When you’re sitting down to a scrumptious meal:

— Drink a large glass of water before you pick up your fork and knife

— Slow the pace. Give your stomach time to feel satiated

— Choose a smaller plate. If you want to enjoy seconds (or dare we say, thirds) this will give your brain time to make a less enthusiastic decision

— Exercise earlier in the day to account for some of the additional calories that will be consumed

— If you expect to consume a hearty evening meal, eat a small breakfast and lunch

— Add a non-alcoholic, no or low calorie drink between alcoholic beverages (for example, a glass of water or a herbal tea)

These steps assume your tastebuds, appetite, and environment will get the better of good intentions. Yet, they plan for and mitigate the sharpest (or should I say, squishiest) edges. At the same time, these steps allow you to be fully immersed in the festive spirit. And on that note…

Enjoy the moment

Remember, Christmas is a time for relaxation and enjoyment, memory-making and love. Let go of judgment. Embrace kindness. As you do you’ll likely reduce your stress, which may just calm your cravings and appetite.

The takeaway

Let these 7 steps support you through your festive season. Stay active, switch up your food habits, sleep well, soothe your stress, weigh yourself regularly, expect (and plan for) obstacles.

Then, be fully present. Create wonderful memories; ones that may last a lifetime. Enjoy!