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Stay fit and healthy over the festive period

Love it or hate it it comes every year, yes Christmas! This period can present a whole host of challenges with so many temptations of excessive food and drink. It is a great time to enjoy yourself and catch up with friends and family but it doesn’t have to derail your training plan fully and undo all the hard work that you have done over the year. It’s all about balance! I have spent many days in December with colds and not feeling great but it doesn’t have to be that way.

My top tips for enjoying the festive period whilst staying fit and healthy!!

1) Plan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

Benjamin Franklin

This is crucial for any success, especially during this busy period. This goes from your food to your training, plan in advance otherwise you will make bad food choices and miss training sessions. It is a great time to get some extra training in while off work but be careful not to plan too much load from what you would normally do as this, coupled with late nights and excess alcohol can lead to sickness and thus longer periods off the bike. Remember consistency is key with training so you want to make sure you limit any time off the bike.

2) Christmas is only 2 days

Although the shops start promoting Christmas in November just remember it is only 2 days which in the grand scheme of the year is such a small percentage so enjoy it but make sure it does not spiral into a month-long period of overeating/drinking and missing training. Try to maintain your usual healthy eating and fitness regime as long as possible to minimise the damage as this will make it easier to get back to healthy habits come January.

3) Any exercise is better than none

During this busy period, it can be hard to stick to your usual training schedule but the key is to be flexible and sometimes think outside the box. If you don’t have time for that 1-hour turbo session then 30 minutes of the key part of the workout is better than nothing. You also don’t have to get on the bike to stay fit so try and combine exercising with socialising which can involve things like walking, ice skating with friends, and anything else you can think of to raise the heart rate.

4) Manage your drinking

Note that I said manage your drinking rather than “don’t drink”! Obviously, with all the Christmas parties going on at this time of year it is going to be inevitable that you will end up consuming more alcohol than you normally would but crucially you want to make sure this does not lead to further bad choices. Line your stomach with some real healthy food before you go out, not only will this stop you from drinking more because your brain doesn’t get confused between hunger and thirst but it will also slow down the release of alcohol into your bloodstream giving your liver more time to process the alcohol. Hangovers are caused by dehydration so a top tip before you go to bed is to have an electrolyte tablet with 500ml of water.

5) It’s all about balance when it comes to food

Although there are excesses of food around at this time there are also plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables so make sure you also eat those with some of the less healthy choices. Christmas is often a time for getting ill because people neglect the basics, so ensure you keep getting those immune-boosting fruits and vegetables. If you also eat your vegetables first then you will also reduce that glucose spike! Again, if you can limit any time off training through sickness, then it will keep you on track with your training and help burn those excessive calories.

6) Get enough sleep

This is one of the best health advice you can follow at all times and even more so over Christmas! Prioritize rest and recovery, as adequate sleep is crucial for overall health and performance. If you do go out and going to be late to bed then don’t plan an early session the next day!

6) Enjoy the season.

Accept that you will put on a few pounds over this period but accept that and be mindful of your eating choices. Having a couple of days off the bike will not ruin your training plan and your mental health is important too so spending time with your friends/family, relaxing and enjoying yourself will keep you on track. You cannot be on it 52 weeks of the year so accept and enjoy it.

Happy Christmas

James Walsgrove

My cycling career started in 2005 when I purchased my first road bike and I was immediately hooked. Since then I have completed numerous cycling challenges including Ironman, Lands’ End to John O Groats, Mt Ventoux (all 3 ascents), London to Paris, the BBAR challenge which included a 12hour TimeTrial and more recently the Mallorca 312.

One thought on “Stay fit and healthy over the festive period

  1. If training seriously and I was following a program I always did what was scheduled. Normally at least one hour surfing level two, Tempo.
    Not cycling but I also enjoyed getting out for a run, empty roads No cars a joy.
    Then Not feeling guilty got on with enjoying Christmas.

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