What You Can Do Now To Make January Easier | SLMan

What You Can Do Now To Make January Easier

There’s no getting away from it. December is full of temptations that can easily make the most avid of gym bunnies fall off the wagon. To help you navigate the festive season, we went to the experts for their top tips on how to make January a bit less painful.
Photography BARTEK SZEWCYZK/ISTOCK
BARTEK SZEWCYZK/ISTOCK

Nutrition

Pick Your Battles
“Remember that Christmas is only really four or five days out of the 31 in December – Christmas Day, Boxing Day, a couple of work Christmas parties or drinks with friends, and maybe NYE. Pick the events that mean the most to you and allow yourself to indulge on these occasions. Perhaps you have a family ritual of a Boxing Day brunch, or going for kebabs and beers with the boys is a Christmas Eve tradition. Embrace these crucial events fully, but over the rest of the month, try to maintain healthy habits with both nutrition and exercise.” – Maria Moore, nutritionist & PT at Moore Movement.

Balance It Out
“Try to be mindful over the festive season and practise portion control. For example, at Christmas dinner, fill your plate with turkey and lots of vegetables but be mindful of how many sausages and roast potatoes you’re having. Or, if you know you love Yorkshire puddings but aren’t a fan of Christmas pudding, have an extra Yorkshire but go without dessert to balance things out and make sure you’re not eating for the sake of it. Have a Terry’s Chocolate Orange while watching Die Hard; just don’t have one every night in December.” – Maria 

Don’t Skip Meals Before Heading Out
“If you are going out for dinner, make sure your breakfast and lunch both include a protein source, complex carbs and two portions of fruit or vegetables. And stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re eating out a lot, it may be helpful to have a smoothie for breakfast or mid-morning with a good-quality protein powder. When we eat out, we tend to eat foods higher in fat and carbs, making it trickier to hit your protein target from food sources alone. Over the festive period I recommend protein powder, creatine, vitamin D and omega-3 supplements.” – Maria 

ANY LANE/PEXELS

Give Your Gut Some TLC
“If you’re prone to bloating, chew your food thoroughly. It’s easy to gulp down mouthfuls when at a buffet or eating canapes, but digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food well can make a huge difference to digestive discomfort. If you’re aware certain foods cause digestive issues for you, look for ‘free from’ alternatives, but remember this doesn’t mean they’re automatically healthier. If you tend to get to January feeling bloated and uncomfortable, consider taking a high-quality probiotic throughout December as well as a digestive enzyme with heavy meals. I rate Your Zooki’s Gut Biome Zooki and NutriAdvanced’s Similase.” – Kim Pearson, nutritionist

Eat Seasonally
“Festive luxuries don’t always have to be unhealthy. For example, a seafood platter with crab, lobster, crayfish and scallops with good-quality dill, lemon or garlic mayonnaise is a great, lean option. If you love cheese, stick to moderate portion sizes and fill your plate with other healthy options to accompany the cheese, such as walnuts, fresh figs, olives and celery sticks. You can also choose healthier crackers, like oatcakes, rather than crackers made from white flour.” – Kim 

Make Some Simple Swaps
“It’s easy to end up eating excessive amounts of sugar over Christmas, so consider swapping sugar for xylitol, a healthy sugar substitute. The options are endless – use it in cranberry sauce, mulled wine and more. Also consider swapping vegetable and sunflower oils for olive oil, and stock up on some alcohol-free alternatives to give yourself a booze-free option for those nights you don’t fancy another beer. Unltd is a great low-calorie, low-carb, alcohol-free beer.” – Kim 

Always Choose Dry Wine
“It’s a myth that all wine is high in sugar. A dry white wine, for example, contains less than 5g of sugar per litre, which equates to less than a teaspoon per bottle. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t compromise our health in other ways, so be mindful about how much you’re drinking. At the same time, good-quality spirits like vodka, gin and tequila are better options than beer or cider.” – Kim 

Consider swapping vegetable and sunflower oils for olive oil, and stock up on some alcohol-free alternatives to give yourself a booze-free option for those nights you don’t fancy another beer. Unltd is a great low-calorie, low-carb, alcohol-free beer.

Fitness

Try Exercise Snacking
“If you can’t find an hour in your schedule to exercise, find three slots of 20 minutes instead. This is called ‘exercise snacking’ and is an approach I often use with my VIP clients when schedules get busy. This approach is also great if you’re fairly new to exercise or rely on exercise for the mental health benefits. Short and sweet is better than nothing. In fact, one study found people who performed three intermittent bouts of stair-climbing per day achieved a similar cardiovascular boost one would get from a longer, moderate-intensity workout.” – Luke Worthington, PT

Skip Weights If  You’re Hungover
“Dehydration is a big contributor to a hangover, so a high-intensity workout that causes you to sweat will lead to more fluid loss and can make your symptoms worse. Heavy lifting is also best avoided when hungover, as your spinal discs are 80% water and therefore more susceptible to dehydration when you’re hungover. A low-intensity cardio workout will give you the endorphin boost needed to shake off any grogginess and will help you get a good night’s sleep so you’re back to your routine more quickly.” – Luke 

Do More HIIT
“Micro-workouts can be an extremely effective form of developing your fitness levels if you have a packed schedule. In fact, when done properly, HIIT produces many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise, just in a shorter amount of time. The key is to incorporate intervals of high intensity to raise the heart rate, but always remember to rest adequately between intervals, warm up properly before with dynamic stretches and cool down afterwards with static stretches.” – Farren Morgan, serving soldier in the British Army & founder of The Tactical Athlete Series

BARTOSZ LUCZAK/ STOCKSY UNITED

Get Some Steps In
“Whether it’s a walk with a friend or a Boxing Day stroll, even a short walk is better than nothing. Ten thousand steps is the widely known target but studies show even 7,000 steps can still acquire major long-term health benefits. If you don’t have the time, or energy, for a proper workout, know that a 30-minute walk will strengthen bones, reduce festive season-induced weight gain, and build muscle power and endurance. Take a tip from the army and walk with a weighted backpack – a 5k walk with a 20kg weighted pack will get your heart rate going.” – Farren

Work Out In The Morning
“Over the Christmas period it can be tempting to have a lie in, but if you don’t work out first thing, chances are you probably won’t later in the day when plans are more likely to crop up. Set an early alarm and get it done. At the same time, be realistic and set yourself a routine you know you can follow. A run two or three times per week, followed by an easy full-body session with bodyweight movements such as push-ups, squats, lunges and sit-ups is a good place to start.” – Gus Vaz Tostes, head of training at WIT Fitness

Try An App
“It’s all well and good doing your own workout at home, but enlisting the support of an app can do the hard work for you and ensure you get the most bang for your buck. I rate the Fiit app – it offers hundreds of workouts, many of which don’t require equipment. The app’s PTs work out with you and teach you how to move better.” – Gus

Remember The Bigger Picture
“If you’re consistent in your eating patterns and exercise regime throughout the year, a few weeks of change will not undo all of that. You can afford to let loose for a few weeks and you won’t lose all your progress suddenly. It can also help to adapt your training regime. Even if you miss a couple of sessions, don’t be tempted to give up entirely. The key is to adapt, scale things back and remember something is better than nothing.” – Gus

For more, head to MooreMovementOfficial.com, Kim-Pearson.com, TheTacticalAthlete.co.uk, WIT-Fitness.com and LukeWorthington.com
 
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SLMan are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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