It’s difficult enough to stay on track with a diet and exercise programme even when the weather is good and light evenings encourage long walks and healthy eating. Combined with cold weather and dark evenings, Christmas can often be the final nail in the coffin of a health kick that may already be flagging after the clocks go back. Work drinks and Christmas parties gang up on you, and the supermarkets are stocked with tempting food that we wouldn’t dream of eating throughout the rest of the year. Even our daily coffee fix gains a range of seasonal syrups, and more often than not, the temptation of whipped cream and sugar sprinkles on top. In short, Christmas can be a disaster for motivation.
However, forward planning and just a little discipline can stop Christmas being a disaster and turn it into a fit and healthy season instead, without sacrificing any of the fun. A 2012 study showed that 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to increase overall activity levels and encourage healthy and steady weight loss. If you can face the dark mornings, get your workout out of the way first thing – not only are no other demands being made upon you just yet, it will also help to boost your energy levels and metabolism for the rest of the day. If this isn’t an option, make the most of the workout potential of Christmas parties; instead of drinking and eating your way through them, stick to sparkling water or spritzers, and hit the dance floor!
Family and friends can help out; ask for fitness equipment and trendy exercise wear on your Christmas list, or get them to chip in with a gym membership if you don’t have one already. If you’re keen on getting the whole family motivated to exercise, then exercise by subterfuge is a good idea; consider a games console with a generous selection of fun fitness or dance activities where everyone can get involved. Before you know it, everyone is not only having fun as a family, but getting in plenty of exercise too. Also look for winter exercise activities as a family, such as long walks through piles of leaves in the crisp cold, or pop up ice skating arenas.
The only problem with ice skating is that you’re likely to spend more time sitting on the ice than skating on it, and if you’re really unlucky you might pick up something worse than bruised pride. Rather than ruining Christmas with worrying about getting to see a doctor, a private MRI scan can help to either diagnose injuries, or put your mind at rest that your bruises will heal in a few days, and if you do need further treatment, you have the reassurance that you will be seen quickly, and at a time that suits you – make sure that you have a Christmas to remember for the right reasons!