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Everyone’s favourite time of year has officially begun, Christmas parties and holidays often come along with a lack of exercise, throwing a balanced diet out of the window and a truck load of booze.

It may seem like too much effort to “stay fit” over Christmas, but a few changes to how you enjoy your December can make all the difference between maintaining a healthy body and coming back in January looking like a real life Peter Griffin.

1. But I’m already fit?

Don’t think that just because you are currently in good health, that this will last you through December. The fitter you are, the faster it takes for your body to de-condition, and therefore to get injured. It takes as little as 2 weeks for one to lose significant gains in aerobic fitness, muscle mass, reduction of strength up to 30%, agility, increase their body fat and to lose neuromuscular adaptations – the body’s preparedness to be able to deal with a specific form of exercise or activity.

2. Walk!

Walk more! Walk to/from work, take the stairs, get off one stop earlier and walk, park further away, take a walk at lunch. Buy a pedometer or use your smartphone and aim to hit at least 10,000 steps a day; done over a week this equates to roughly 3500 calories and around 1 pound of fat burned.

3. Make a deal

Get a workout buddy and make a deal that you will exercise together at set days during the week. Set a forfeit for missed days to keep it interesting and more achievable. People are more motivated to exercise if they know that someone else is depending on them and challenging them.

4. Commit in advance

Sign up to classes in the week and sporting events set for January. Similar to the last point, when you have something to look forward to and train for, you are more likely to be motivated to workout due to our inherent fear of failure.

5. Turkey and yoghurt?

Well…not literally together, but these are 2 key Christmas ingredients to be favoured. Turkey is an extremely lean meat that’s high in protein and low in salt, favour this as your choice of meat at Christmas meals. Now for the yoghurt, anything that calls for creams, sour creams, butter or dips, replace with some plain Greek yoghurt for the lower fat and healthier option. And always try to fill at least half of your plate with the roast veg options.

6. Drink, Drank, Drunk

Key information right here:

For those of you who have no idea about calories…1 mars bar = 230 cals

  • Pint of cider – 250 cals
  • Pint of lager – 180 cals
  • 175ml glass of medium dry red wine – 160 cals
  • 175ml glass of medium dry white wine – 130 cals
  • 125ml glass of champagne – 100 cals
  • 35ml shot of whisky – 80 cals
  • 35ml shot of vodka – 70 cals

Although this shouldn’t all be about the calorie counting, just pace yourself and down the water between drinks to slow the diuretic effect of alcohol. Nobody wants to have to bully you into a taxi at 7pm at the work Christmas do, don’t be “that guy.” After just one drink the function of your liver already begins to reduce and slows down your metabolism.

7. Enjoy and Be Merry

The most important bit, enjoyment. You don’t have to go to the gym for 3 hours 5 times a week, nor do you have to throw all fitness plans out the window at Christmas. With some small lifestyle changes and knowledge on what you’re eating and drinking over December, maintaining your fitness and health should not have to be a difficult task.