How To Stay Fit And Healthy Over Christmas: 6 Experts Share Their Tips

From scheduling workouts in the diary to swapping gin and tonics for a sparkling water and lemon on a night out, we caught up with seven fitness and wellness experts to find out their top festive health tips.

MOST POPULAR

The tin of Roses on the coffee table. The smell of freshly baked minced pies out of the oven. The bottles of Baileys and Prosecco lining the fridge door.

While Christmas might well be the most magical time of the year, it's also often the most glutinous, booze-filled and, let's face it, exhausting period in the winter calendar.

Whether you're heading home to your families for the festive season, booking a skiing holiday with your partner, or planning to hit the town with friends to ring in the New Year, December is full of temptations that can easily make the most avid gym bunny and devoted health-conscious eater tumble off the wagon.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

But it doesn't need to be that way.

High-five if you've already smashed your workout this morning! #CrossFit #BeMoreHuman

A post shared by Reebok UK (@reebokuk) on

You can still party until the wee hours of the morning, knock back a shot of limoncello and tuck into a bowl of Christmas pudding and maintain a healthy fitness regime and eating plan.

Don't believe us?

We spoke to six wellness experts to get their top tips for how to survive the festive season with your sanity (and waistline) intact.


1. Celest Pereira, Wanderlust ambassador and yoga teacher

'There's a strong undercurrent of 'but it's Christmas' mentality that is rife amongst us all. And while we do need to let our hair down and have fun during this time of year, we also need to look after our bodies. And no, Christmas is not an excuse to abuse it,' says Pereira.

  • If your goal is to stay fit and healthy through the festive season then small changes go a long way. Never go back for seconds, no matter how tasty the buffet is. Eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful. It's easier not to over eat when you're mindful. If you are able to choose your food, don't deny yourself anything but allow the proportions of healthy food to be bigger than the unhealthy options.

  • Drink lots of water on a night out. Don't be afraid when your friends are offering to buy you drinks to ask for a sparkling water with some lemon. I always fall back on the 'tomorrow is a big day and I need to be on form' excuse.
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes of training everyday - walking, yoga, HIIT, anything! Even a few minutes will get your metabolism pumping. On the days where you really don't have time, make sure to schedule in a short five minute meditation to focus on your body and slow down your breathing.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
  • Find a buddy who will support you, even when it's cold and windy out there, and schedule your workouts into your diary so the time is already set aside.

Never go back for seconds, no matter how tasty the buffet is

  • Challenge friends and family to 'plank-offs' and set a Christmas goal for yourself, such as 'by the end of Christmas I'll hold a four-minute plank'.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

2. Andy Vincent, Third Space elite trainer

'I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard people say they are taking December off the diet because they know they can't stick to their usual habits,' explains Vincent.

  • Adapt your training schedule. If you usually have a four-day routine and feel this is unrealistic over Christmas, switch to something like 1 x full body weights session and 1 x treadmill hill sprints session. Think about what you feels gives you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to training.

  • Breakfast and lunch hopefully shouldn't be interrupted with social activities, but make sure you 're stocked up in the fridge and plan your meals in advance as much as possible.
  • Plan to see friends for finessed related catch ups. Rather than suggesting a girls' brunch, how about a seeing if your friends fancy doing a yoga class or a jog?
  • If you struggle for ideas for none equipment / bodyweight training systems, use Freeletics or the Nike app for ideas. The most important things is doing something to make you feel like earned the right to eat a few more calories.

Plan to see friends for finessed related catch ups

  • Schedule the occasional HIIT training session for 8-12 minutes or use a Tabata timing protocol of 20 seconds continuous work followed by 20 seconds res. The cumulative fatigue from short rest periods will keep this session hard and the duration low.

3. Caroline Bragg, Frame instructor at Move Your Frame

Bragg says: 'Along with the jam packed schedule, the weather has a huge part to play in people not wanting to exercise at Christmas. Your weekly outdoor bootcamp is easy to skip in the rain compared to the hazy summer evenings of July.'

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

  • If you're unable to make it to your favourite gym class or don't have time to go to the gym, do a high-intensity workout in your living room. Purchase a pair of gliders and resistance bands ahead of Christmas - or pop them on your wish list - as they help you sweat and burn calories in a short space of time and take up no space whatsoever. Gliders work the muscles eccentrically and concentrically while bands add resistance to moves and provide a full-body workout.

Purchase a pair of gliders and resistance bands ahead of Christmas

  • Download interval training timer Tabata Pro onto your phone for at-home or gym training.
  • Try to work out for at least 30 mins 4-5 times a week and get out of the house as much as possible.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

4. Matt Fish, personal trainer at Anytime Fitness

  • Christmas is always a difficult time to stay fit so you need to keep up your momentum and energy by setting yourself goals. For example, I've booked a 10km run in January which will force me train over the Christmas period and maintain a steady regime throughout December.
  • Sign up to an event or a sports club ahead of the Christmas break, whether it's a fun run with friends and family or a free class at a local gym that's opened up.
  • Be selective when it comes to accepting social invites. Every 'yes' to an invite increases your consumption of unhealthy food and alcohol. Prioritise some 'me' time, instead.

Focus.. stay strong this weekend. Don’t ruin the weeks hard work #fitclasslondon

A post shared by Matt Fish (@mattfishpt) on

  • Plan your workouts around peak times when you know you'll be out boozing and eating. For example, if you have a Christmas party coming up, put a workout in your diary the morning of or the day after the party. Knowing you have a workout planned will help you stay focussed and be guilt-free. It's also a great way of curing a hangover!

Be selective when it comes to accepting social invites

Pull yourself out of bed... • • Increase your strength by lifting your self #fitclasslondon

A post shared by Matt Fish (@mattfishpt) on

  • I love this time of year as it does bring out the sun, but the temperature can be a sore point. If heading out in the cold has you hiding your trainers, why not perform simple body weight and core exercises to help you stay active indoors? Put on a 40-minute Netflix episode or that podcast you've been dying to listen to and use the time to do a gentle workout in the comfort of your own home.

5. Alice Liveing, personal trainer and best-selling author

'Understandably, during the festive period, people's diaries fill up with social events far more than normal, and the temptation of warm mince pies in the office and a glass of bubbly after work are far more appealing than a carrot stick and a diet coke,' says Liveing.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

'For that reason I think that it's only normal that people may struggle to stick to their fitness regime around this time of the year.'

  • Make a plan to continue to exercise three times a week, for example with two weight sessions and one conditioning session, which give a realistic goal to aim for and allow you to keep your fitness levels at a consistent point so that you don't feel a huge struggle getting back to it after the fitness period.

  • If you are wanting to invest in some equipment to workout at home, a set of dumbbells and a resistance band are a great place to start. These free weights are incredibly versatile and allow you to add load to a large variety of exercises, whilst a resistance band is great for also increasing the difficulty of bodyweight exercises.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
  • Think outside the box and see how you can get your family involved in your activity; think walks, ball games or even a home HIIT workout with the whole family.

6. Olivia Ross-Hurst, adidas runners captain

  • Make those weekend long runs fun and sociable by meeting a friend and making your end point a coffee shop or brunch spot so you can reward yourself with a warming hot chocolate. If you really can't face the cold, put together a pumping playlist and hit the treadmill for some speed work.
  • During the dark winter evenings, find a friend who loves to run or join a run club. Not only will this keep you accountable and ensure you show up, but it's safer to run in pairs. adidas Runners provides structured training that is perfect for staying motivated during the winter months. Sessions are one hour long and completely free.

Meet a friend and make your end point a coffee shop or brunch spot

  • Set your favourite power song as your alarm to wake you up in the morning. Something that lifts your mood and energy will help you resist the snooze button and get you pumped to hit the road.
More from ELLE UK: