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Staying on Track (and enjoying yourself!) During the Festive Season

Something I've heard from my fitness clients several times over the last few weeks is "but what about Christmas!?"

With office parties, after work drinks, the Starbucks festive menu (that fudge hot chocolate though...) and the siren call of the Quality Street tin to contend with, the prospect of staying on track in the run up to Christmas - without turning into Ebenezer Scrooge - can be daunting.

To me, a healthy lifestyle is all about finding the right balance, enjoying yourself and enjoying life. Christmas is a time to relax and be merry. Nobody wants to spend Christmas Day desperately calculating the number of calories in a brussels sprout. (It's 8, in case you were wondering - go wild, assault your loved one's nostrils with festive sprouty farts!).

Read on for my top tips on how to maintain a healthy balance whilst enjoying the festive season so you can head into January feeling refreshed and ready to go.

1) Avoid coming down with a case of the 'Sod Its'

We've all been there. You check your diary for the week and realise you've got two Christmas parties, one lot of mulled wine and minced pies and a coffee date with your best friend. It can be so easy to just think 'sod it, why bother working out or eating well at all when I've got all this going on?' and before you know it your nutrition habits are giving Buddy the Elf a run for his money. (Does anyone else think spaghetti and maple syrup might actually taste amazing?)

The key thing is to keep active and eat well the majority of the time so that you can enjoy the outings with family and friends, let your hair down at the Christmas parties and indulge in a minced pie every now and then without having to worry about it. I try to live by the 80:20 ratio - 80% of the time I do my best to fuel my body with the good stuff so that the other 20% of the time I can feed my soul with the indulgent stuff. It's all about balance.

2) Schedule your workouts like an important meeting

December can get pretty hectic and it can be really easy to let exercise become less of a priority. In the same way that you wouldn't continuously cancel or reschedule meetings with your boss or a client, you shouldn't keep cancelling on yourself. Think of your workout as an important meeting with yourself. This is your time to do what's right for your body and, as much as you may not feel like it beforehand, I promise you'll feel so good about yourself once it's done. Plus exercise is a great way to destress so if you find you're getting your tinsel in a tangle, or that darn Elf won't stay on it's shelf, hitting the gym or getting out for a run can be a great way to get some headspace.

3) Don't be afraid to say 'no, thank you'

Inevitably, the run up to Christmas can involve a lot of eating out or dining with friends, and sometimes you can find yourself almost pressured into ordering/accepting things you don't really want just to be polite. You know when you just really don't fancy another three course meal but everyone else is getting a starter so you end up ordering one too? Or when you're visiting friends and the second round of Christmas cake comes out? It's fine to say no thank you - if you don't want it, don't have it!

4) Be mindful

Eating mindfully is a great tool to use all the year round, but even more so at Christmas. We've all had that moment when you've accidentally found yourself surrounded by Quality Street wrappers with no recollection of how they got there (maybe that's just me...). Taking time to appreciate your food and listen to your body can be a great way to avoid overdoing it.

5) Don't stress - enjoy yourself!

I honestly think the more you worry and overthink it, the more likely you are to come down with a case of the aforementioned 'sod its'. Christmas comes but once a year so let yourself have a little bit of down time, strike a healthy balance and most importantly - enjoy yourself!

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