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Managing your health and wellbeing during the Christmas period





Our fitness expert Ollie Thompson has some ideas to help you this festive season.

Staying healthy during the Christmas period doesn’t require you to stick to your gym routine or avoid the sweet treats and indulgent feasts. This month, I’m discussing how you can successfully stay in control of your nutrition, activity, and overall wellbeing while still thoroughly enjoying the Christmas period with your family and friends.

Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, wellbeing consultant and creator of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell
Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, wellbeing consultant and creator of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell

Nutrition

During the festive season, maintaining healthy nutrition habits can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavour. With an abundance of tempting treats and indulgent feasts, it's essential to strike a balance between enjoying the holiday spirit and staying mindful of your wellbeing.

One way that I advise you to do this is with moderation. While it’s natural to indulge a little in festive foods, moderation is key to preventing the over-consumption of often highly-processed, calorie-dense foods.

Many sweet treats are stuffed full of sugar and will inevitably cause you to continue to indulge if you’re not careful. If you prepare many of your meals and festive snacks yourself, consider incorporating healthier alternatives or modifications to traditional recipes, such as using whole grains, lean proteins and reducing added sugars.

It's easy to over-indulge at Christmas
It's easy to over-indulge at Christmas

I also advise you only eat to 80 per cent full, often associated with the Japanese concept of "hara hachi bu." Rather than consuming food until you feel completely stuffed, stopping at 80 per cent full allows your body time to recognise its satiety signals. This helps promote better digestion, prevents discomfort, and will help you maintain a healthy calorie consumption.

Fitness

Maintaining a fitness routine over the Christmas period is not always something I recommend; I believe taking a rest from your current fitness routine to enjoy time with family and a well-needed rest is extremely valuable for both our physical and mental health.

Not to mention, many of us will have a busy schedule delivering gifts, visiting extended family, and making the most of our time with friends we rarely see. However, I do believe that staying active through the 10 days of Christmas is very beneficial.

Family walks can help keep you active over Christmas
Family walks can help keep you active over Christmas

Incorporating regular exercise during this time can provide a multitude of benefits, including stress relief and increased energy levels. Consider adapting your current fitness routine to the holiday context, opting for enjoyable activities like family walks or early morning bike rides. Planning and scheduling a few exercise sessions in advance can help ensure consistency. Additionally, involving friends or family members can transform workouts into more social and enjoyable experiences.

Lifestyle

The Christmas period often involves extended periods of sitting during gatherings, feasting, and relaxing while watching a Christmas movie. While this is partly what makes Christmas such an enjoyable period for many of us, some regular movement is crucial for our health.

Staying sedentary for prolonged periods can lead to stiffness, decreased energy levels, and even aches and pains. Moving a little every hour, whether it be a short walk, some stretches, or simply standing for a short period, can help counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. By moving a little and often throughout Christmas celebrations, you’ll have an improved mood state, avoid picking up aches and pains, and even improve how well your body digests food and controls blood sugar levels.

Moderation in alcohol consumption during the Christmas celebrations is also something to be mindful of. High alcohol consumption is partly to blame for weight gain over Christmas, coupled with the excessive snacking it encourages.

A few tips I often advise many of my clients include making a drink last as long as you can, coupling an alcoholic drink with some water to help stay hydrated, and avoiding drinking alcohol within two hours prior to sleep. This will help protect your sleep quality that night and ensure you get a restful and restorative night.

I hope you found some of these nuggets of advice helpful. I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy your new year celebrations. Catch you in January when I’ll be breaking down a step-by-step guide on building a successful new year's exercise plan.

Ollie specialises in helping career-focused professionals get into great shape, build long-term health and perform better in their work. Named as one of London Evening Standards top London Personal Trainers, Ollie works across Cambridge and London and offers both in-person and virtual personal training. Visit www.welltolead.com and follow Ollie on Instagram @olliethompsonhealth for more.



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