Not another year of Christmas un-fitness… [PART 1]

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Christmas is a great time to reconnect with the people around us, close and far. It’s also a more than valid excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast and to stay on the sofa for 12 hours straight. But nobody said we couldn’t offset this overindulgence with just a little bit of extra effort. By extra effort of course, I’m simply referring to the decision against  abandoning all workout plans from mid-December to January 2nd resulting in what I like to call, “Christmas un-fitness”.

I’m a strong believer in allowing yourself ‘time off’ from what might otherwise be a lifestyle that requires a lot of effort. If you’re one of those lucky people who has a natural urge to eat cleaner than a U-rated film and gets withdrawal symptoms if you haven’t yet been for your daily HIIT class, then I take my hat off to you. You are my inspiration and I aspire to one day have that same constant, undying motivation.

If on the other hand, you’re one of the self-challenging soldiers, who has to give yourself the occasional kick up the ass, then please believe me: I get it and I salute you too – you’re one of my own after all.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone who manages easy maintenance in personifying the word ‘health’ doesn’t have to work for it. Regardless of which camp you’re in, it takes massive amounts of patience, self-discipline and determination to stay on track, and if you can do it, you should applaud yourself.

A huge part of staying on track is overcoming obstacles. We who participate in exercise all have something we’re aiming for, something we’re heading towards – a goal. Whether it’s based on our appearance, our state of mind, a certain skill-set or just general health and wellbeing. Whatever the path is that you’re on, there are bound to be obstacles that come up and try to ruin your damn-fine streak.

Today I’m going to talk about an obstacle that can sabotage the best of us: Christmas! Here in the UK, it’s probably the biggest holiday for your average Brit. Before anyone gets offended, I say this because we get bombarded with advertising so early that they have to take a break for Halloween.

So December has started, you’re planning your gym visits right up until the big day; then it gets a bit uncertain. Suddenly, there’s work parties, friends’ parties, family reunions, school reunions, winter wonderland trips and, of course those boxing-day-and-beyond sales, that obviously must be attended. To add to that, the gyms are closed or have limited opening times for basically the entirety of the 2nd half of the month. So when it comes to avoiding Christmas un-fitness, what do we do?

This brings me back to my point about taking time off. I’m not saying sit on your ass for 2 weeks straight, but maybe allow yourself some leniency in your normal routine. Usually bang on the weights? Try going swimming; use the opportunity to appreciate the serenity of water. More of a yoga bunny? How about a peaceful walk, in nature if possible. Maybe there’s a sport or exercise that you’ve wanted to try for ages but it didn’t ‘fit in’ with your current routine?

Basically, find something that contrasts with what you normally do. There are so many different ways of participating in exercise that more than qualify as a decent session that fall outside of our normal, go-to activities. Doing something a bit different will make you feel like you’ve had a (well-deserved) break – without depriving yourself of any health benefits; it’s win-win, I say.

Another way of staying active without de-conditioning yourself is to spend some time focusing on core strength and stability and/or balance, along with proper structured rest.

Get a wobble board and spend 5 minutes on it whilst watching TV; do some planks, maybe try lifting alternate limbs and holding that position; try and sit on a Swiss ball without the use of your full feet on the floor (or none at all if you’re a pro!); practice abdominal bracing or even, (ladies), give those pelvic floors a workout. Core strength and stability is so important to everyday living and especially important in the development of physical activity.

As far as focusing on rest goes, get a massage, go to a spa, lie on the floor with your legs up against the wall for 10 minutes, read a book, download the Headspace app and do some guided meditation, go for a walk, get creative and make a drawing/song/poem. Whatever it is that makes you relax, do that!

That’s all for now. Part 2 will discuss some guidelines on avoiding Christmas un-fitness for those who don’t wish to deviate from their normal routine and also for those who just simply lose motivation around this time.

Thanks for reading!


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