Surviving Christmas

Tips for maintaining your Physique and fitness over Christmas



The Christmas period is literally a Personal Trainers nightmare – FOOD EVERYWHERE, GYMS CLOSED, family force feeding you mince pies, chocolate and beer…


Of course I’m playing, and we enjoy Christmas as much as everyone else but we are always looking to get straight back into the gym and back into good eating patterns as fast as possible.


You should definitely enjoy your Christmas, but you don’t need to sacrifice all of the hard work you’ve put in this year just to enjoy a few days of over indulgence.


Here are a few tips to help you keep on Track over the Festive Period:


1) Avoid the “New Beginnings” mentality:


There is nothing magical about January. It will not make you fitter, it will not make you burn more calories or fat. So why leave your gym sessions until January?? There are Gym opening timetables next to these leaflets on the desk.


The easiest way, by far to keep your Physique and fitness over Christmas is to carry on coming to the Gym when it’s open!

Just think of it, the gym is likely to be very quiet, you have the place to yourself and you can rid yourself of those post binge feelings of guilt!


2) Don’t go on a one week “All you can eat” bender:


Limit your “bad” days, I will only be eating badly on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve and New years day. That leaves me with 6 days from Monday 22nd in which to eat well and train.


If I keep myself to a slight caloric deficit on these days I’m sure that the effects of Christmas on my Physique will be negated.


3) Don’t try to train and diet yourself into the ground in the week before Christmas:


Exercise as you normally would – don’t do anything stupid in the days before. No need to kill yourself training to “deplete glycogen”, no need to up your cardio to two hours a day.


I can almost guarantee that you will end up eating a lot more than you would normally if you approach holidays or feasts in this manner.


This is due to a combination of psychology (Having an “I’ve earned this so I’m gonna go wild” mentality) and physiology (plummeting leptin levels will tell your body it is starving, not only will this cause your body to deliberately target muscle to breakdown, but when you do have your binge, your body will be in a more fat storing mode than it would if you just trained and ate normally).


4) Create a Calorie “Buffer” on your “Bad” days:


If you’re a fan of Intermittent fasting, you could fast until Christmas Dinner (Don’t do this if you’re not already regularly fasting and are used to it), otherwise, you could reduce the size of your Breakfast on Christmas day by 50%, make sure this meal is high in protein and Fibre and low in Carbs and Fats.


If you have the time (or the inclination you could also do a Tabata on Christmas Day morning (20 second Periods of High intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeated 6-10 times), try this

20 secs – Press Ups

20 secs – Squat Jumps

20 secs – Mountain Climbers

20 secs – Crunches

20 secs – Lunges



This will take less than 5 minutes and fire up your metabolism for the day, helping you to soak up the damage of Christmas Dinner.


5) Limit your choices, not your Portions:


Studies have shown that when people are presented with multiple food choices, they eat more.

If you have lots of Foods on offer you will want to try everything and you will likely eat a good portion of everything.


If you have less choice on offer you will still eat everything but with the same portion size, so in effect, less than you would if you had lots of choice.


Mentally limit yourself to only trying one of the desserts on offer, or either mash or roasties not both!


6) Prioritise Protein and Fibre:


When you come to eating your Christmas Dinner, eat all of your Meat and all of your Veggies first.


Firstly if you are prioritizing these nutrients and eating more of them, you in crease your TEF (Thermic Effect of Food), this means you will burn more calories digesting the food than you would from carbs and fats.


The second reason is satiety, these nutrients will make you feel fuller faster, as such you will be more likely to leave the more calorific or insulin spiking foods.


7) Increase your NEAT:


NEAT stands for Non Exercise Energy Thermogenesis. This is a fancy way of saying, move more.


Don’t lounge after Dinner, help your Nan with the dishes, play with the kids, go for a walk, just DON’T SIT ON YOUR BACKSIDE.


NEAT is actually one of the biggest things you can do in daily life to lose weight and tone your Physique. I remember reading that people who fidget burn up to 300kcal more per day than those who don’t. This would add up to 2800kcal per week – FROM FIDGETING!!


8) Get your GLUT on:


GLUT-4 is a protein responsible for shuttling Glucose in to cells.


Studies have shown that muscle contractions that last around 2 minutes can bring this Protein to the surface of your muscle cells.


Great, how does this benefit you? Simply, if you perform 2 minutes of compound (several joints and muscles moving at once) contractions before your Christmas meal you will activate these Proteins, this means your body will shuttle a lot of what you eat into your Muscles and not in to your fat Cells!


Try doing 40 wall press ups and 40 Air Squats right before your Christmas Dinner!


9) Get straight back to Dieting on Boxing Day:


Your overeating on Christmas day will cause a surge in the Hormone Leptin. This tells your body you are well fed.


This means your body is in the perfect environment to burn lots of fat. It won’t try to hold on to fat because it believes it is well fed. Take advantage of this by going to the gym and having a massive session and eating well with a large caloric deficit!


10) Eat until you are satisfied, not until you’re uncomfortable:


This point ties in with point 3 as well. If you have deprived yourself all week you will want to go hog wild on Christmas Day and eat everything in sight, even when you’re full.


Take it easy, recognise when you’re full and stop eating! I know that myself I can probably quite easily squeeze in an extra 1000-1500kcal of Calories dense foods even when I’m feeling full – that’s nearly half a pound of fat!!




So there you have it, tips for Damage limitation over Christmas. These tips also transfer to any occasion or holiday where you know you won’t be eating well!


If you would like any more information on Fat Loss, Muscle building or Physique Transformations get in touch with me!


Mike Potter


Twitter: @gymplicitypotts , @mikeptpotter