We always have choices and at this time of year it’s important to make the best choice possible

Christmas holidays are fast-approaching and what has been a difficult year for many is coming to an end. The office party may have been put on hold for some but there are others for whom late nights are now rolling into mornings, and each day is starting to become a bit of a blur.

The Government’s recent Budget is making you tighten your purse-strings as you debate whether to make the journey to town to take on the crowds and heavy traffic in an effort to buy your presents.

With so many activities to occupy your time, you may start to forget about one very important aspect of your life — your health.

Effort

There are many who believe that it is impossible to stay in shape and to eat healthily without turning into a Christmas Scrooge. You may be one of them, expecting to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, you won’t even make the effort to stay in shape.

Instead of taking control of your health and body, you resign yourself to maintenance at best or back-sliding at worst.

Are you one of these people? Choosing to sprawl on the couch watching movies while stuffing your face with chocolates as you recuperate from a hangover and a stressful year.

If this is your response to stress, it may be one of the reasons that you are left dreaming of a slight Christmas. I am not condoning living the life of a hermit — you can have your cheat meals over the coming weeks and these will not seriously affect your physique once you are still training. No one will ever be 100pc strict with their diet and if you do have a slip-up, get back on the straight and narrow as soon as possible.

Sure, your friends will try and drag you down, but you must have high standards and not expect their standards to match yours. The majority of people have planned in advance to fail over Christmas so you must not let their negative influence affect you.

No matter where you are, you always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible.

There is no reason why health and fitness should spoil your holiday fun; neither should the holidays destroy your health and fitness programme.

The key is to look after the three legs of the stool of fitness — nutrition, weight-training and cardio. You neglect one leg of the stool and it will fall over.

In nutrition, the key is to stay consistent with your training and eating patterns.

Binge

Skipping meals to make room for a big dinner is a great way to invite a binge that could set you back days and lead to an increase of fat storage.

By eating small and frequently and controlling your portion sizes, you have a better chance of beating the law of energy balance, ie, calories in versus calories out. To drop body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit.

When you are performing weights or interval-style cardio workouts make sure your training sessions are short and intense. Reduce rest times between weight exercises and perform sprints instead of long runs to save you time and to speed up your metabolism.

If you are in a gym longer than an hour you are making friends, not training, so less of the idle chit-chat and focus on getting the job done.

Your training sessions should be scheduled into your diary as an appointment with yourself and alternate between weight-training days and interval-training sessions.

Nothing tastes as good as being lean and strong feels. Stay in shape over Christmas. Support your local charity’s fitness events so you can kill two birds with one stone, and improve your health while helping your community.

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