I’m not that much of a bah-humbug guy, but I did refuse to even consider a post like this until December had at least begun. And seeing as though I’m being forced to put up a Christmas tree on Sunday, I realised I couldn’t fight the tide for ever.

This isn’t going to be about how to survive seldom-seen relatives, or schedule TV viewing around the Queen’s speech, or how to re-gift unwanted pressies. Somewhat predictably, I’m going to talk about how to protect your training, nutrition and waistline over Christmas.

Now, as I alluded to at the start, Christmas starts earlier and earlier. Whatever you feel about that, it’s a fact that some Christmas work parties have already happened, and there’ll likely be more, as well as the more informal getting together with friends in advance of the holidays. With that in mind, it’s no longer about a bit of a binge for three days and then back to normal. Most people’s bodies can get away with that short-term damage, if it’s infrequent. But a whole month of eating and drinking way more than normal? No chance. Things will change, and not for the better.

So, what’s the answer? Become a hermit? Refuse invites? No, of course not. Training and nutrition – unless you’ve got a competition coming up in January (poor you) – shouldn’t take away from living life. Trouble is, do you really want to spend all of January and February undoing the mess you created in December? Many people are still carrying Christmas weight in March – that’s a quarter of the year spent just getting back to where you started!

So how can you limit the damage? Here’s some ideas that, whilst they won’t negate an entire tub of Celebrations, will at least remove some pointless calories:

1. Avoid beer and wine.

You what? At Christmas, you’re telling me not to drink? No – just limit the beer and wine. Stick with spirits – Christmas is ALL about an 8am brandy – and you’ll save 150-odd kcals a drink. That mounts up over a month. You could wipe out 10,000 calories just by drinking more sensible choices, NOT by not drinking at all.

2. Grab a handful of chocolates, and put the tub in the other room.

Sounds simple, but works. Grab a handful of Celebrations, take them into the TV room. You’re far more likely to eat what you’ve got, rather than eventually look down and see an empty tub. Eat what you want, but don’t mindlessly eat more than you would have ever wanted to.

3. Eat before your Xmas party

Have something before you go out to a party. Scrambled egg on toast. Something that dials down the hunger a little, and dilute the alcohol. You’re likely to drink a little less, eat a little less, and far less likely to be sick on the chairman’s shoes at 11pm.

4. Step up your training

If you’re a regular gymmer, don’t slack off. Throw in an additional session once a week to try and offset the inevitable extras. If you’re a non-cardio person (that’s me!), consider just throwing in some HIIT at the end of a session for 10 mins. Doing something more than you normally do will help. And remember, a heavy drinking session will stall your training for a couple of days. Plan intelligently – if you know the weekend is going to be a write off, make extra effort in the week. It won’t kill you to get up early one day in the week.

5. Use willpower! (ah come on, you knew this would be in here somewhere)

No tricks in the world will overcome a daily 1,000 calories over your needs. Every now and then ask yourself if it’s worth it – do you want the office cake, or would you rather just wait until the Saturday night party? Life is full of compromises, it doesn’t make you a killjoy, it just makes you accountable and, dare I say, an adult.

6. Skip breakfast

But it’s the most important meal of the….blah blah blah. Let’s face it, if you’ve got a lunchtime do, and an evening party that day, you’re not exactly going to waste away, are you? Save the calories you’d have consumed at breakfast, live on coffee for the morning, and at least the damage in the rest of day will have been moderated.

6. Drive!

Really determined not to overdo it? Don’t want to drink and not sure of your willpower? Drive – offer up the ultimate sacrifice, reap some ‘you owe me’s and be the designated driver. As excuses not to drink go, it’s a cast-iron one. Oh, but if you do drink and drive, I sincerely hope you end up in a tree, unhurt, but with a written-off car to remind you how much of an idiot you are.

There’s probably many more tricks to use; and you’ll no doubt read a few of these ‘survive Xmas’ type posts, but hopefully at least one of these will resonate with you and help a little. Just don’t blame me when you’re fast asleep in your turkey because you had one too many early morning brandies…


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