The holiday season is always a splurge of couch sitting and face stuffing, to the detriment of our waistlines.
The biggest temptation, of course, is to load up your plate with way too much food.
Lift Performance Centre owner Cato Rutherford, a fitness and health professional with six years of training under his belt, tells The New Daily that Christmas lunch is the real danger zone.
“One part of the joy of getting together for Christmas is that social aspect, which always seems to be based around food. People go to a great deal of effort to provide a terrific smorgasbord. The danger can be trying all of the little morsels and ending up eating a really big meal.”
Fitness definitely takes a back seat over the holidays, which Mr Rutherford says is “okay” if you’ve put in the hard yards throughout the year. If not, then you are going to need to squeeze in some exercise and a little bit of self-control over the silly season.
Here are Mr Rutherford’s tips to manage your portion sizes and prevent a holiday blowout.
Don’t starve yourself
The key is to eat regular meals, especially on Christmas Day.
Starving yourself in order to stuff in more turkey, chicken, beef and prawns is a bad idea, Mr Rutherford says.
“It’s quite a trend in my family – and I’m sure in many others – that you get up, have a light breakfast, and then don’t eat right up until two o’clock or three when you do finally have that big Christmas lunch.”
By the time you get to the big meal, you are famished. This makes you overeat, skyrocketing your blood sugar and triggering a rush of insulin, which causes your body to store the excess food as fat.
“If you eat regularly in the lead-up to those big meals, you’re not going to be as hungry so you’ll be less likely to overeat,” he says.
Head into the holidays with a clear plan
Having a plan of attack is key for those wanting to avoid putting on extra Christmas kilos.
Choose when to splurge and when to hold back, Mr Rutherford recommends, or else every meal becomes a cheat meal.
“If you know, okay, at Wednesday lunch you’re going to have a big meal, it can help you resist the temptation to have an ice cream now.
“Psychologically, you know when you’re going to do it, and so you don’t feel as though you need to let it all unravel.
Resist the weight
If you have an hour or two to sneak in, resistance training – some lifting and heaving – will serve you better than a jog (or sluggish shuffle) around the block.
Exercise with weights is preferable because it will divert the surplus of holiday calories from your waistline to your muscles, Mr Rutherford says.
“I’m a big believer in utilising a little bit of resistance training throughout those periods. It just seems to be much better at making the body insulin-sensitive and therefore really utilising that surplus of calories that we tend to eat during the Christmas period.”
Fill in the gaps with fitness, not food
Rather then melting into the couch while you watch the Boxing Day Test, get active with a few body weight exercises – such as some push-ups or sit-ups.
“I love the body weight exercises because they’re very challenging but also because they don’t require any equipment.
“If you can find a tree trunk or the top of a swing set, do a few chin-ups. That sort of stuff is just terrific to get in some incidental exercise during the break if you are short on time and unable to get in to the gym,” Mr Rutherford says.
Master the handstand
Running on a treadmill or cycling is “dull”, Mr Rutherford says, and is not going to motivate you to get in a gym workout or two.
Instead, try to learn one complex movement, such as a 30-second handstand or a difficult yoga pose, before you head back to work.
“Learning a new skill, something quite complex, gives you a goal. When you’re orientated more towards an athletic goal than aesthetic goal it can motivate you in other ways,” he says.