Sunday 20 April 2014

How to beat the Christmas excess

So many steps forward during the year. So many steps back over Christmas. Irish people are not renowned for moderation and, so, though many of us spend the year fussing over diet, alcohol consumption, heart rate and power output, we quickly throw caution to the wind and unravel months of hard work with a couple of weeks' hard partying over Christmas.

It's time to start listening to your inner "little athlete": damage limitation is the key so that you are fresh and ready for your 2014 goals.

{HTML_BULLET} The trick for Christmas holiday exercise is to plan what you're going to do. If you commit to a fun run or a St Stephen's Day cycle with friends, then it becomes harder to back out.

Having a like-minded accomplice to keep you motivated is a huge help. I'm not fond of early morning exercise, but on my Thanksgiving trip to Arizona, I found that the group momentum generated by the plans with my friend to go running or to the gym each morning was a great incentive to get me out of bed.

{HTML_BULLET} Take your training routine with you. Just because you're not working and it's Christmas doesn't mean you need to throw all exercise out the window. On the contrary, the holidays are a great time to squeeze in some daytime exercise and get some much needed winter sunshine.

I'm planning to squeeze in plenty of running, both with friends and at home with Lil the dog. I'm also doing a Christmas 10k up in Howth while visiting friends on December 28, which will force some speed into my turkey-filled legs and keep a bit of quality running in the week.

{HTML_BULLET} When it comes to eating and drinking, a little moderation helps. Think of your goal as maintaining your current weight over the holiday season.

The best way is to fill up on high quality nutrition; Christmas treats don't have to be bad. Smoked salmon and scrambled egg, turkey with roasted vegetable and sweet potatoes, nuts and dips such as hummus or fresh guacamole with raw vegetables are all healthy, filling picks.

Christmas is grim without any treats, and I adore dessert, but aim to stick to the odd portion of homemade pudding or cake. All day snacking on crisps, chocolate and biscuits will be your downfall.

Again, having some fun-running planned helps to temper some of the excess; when you know you're getting up the next morning to meet people for a run, it quells the temptation for that final beer.

I'm a sucker for a pink drink, and the temptations of the Christmas season are right under my nose, with a week of fine dining over Thanksgiving segueing nicely into my work Christmas party.

Some forward planning was required this week, as my friend Susan arrived in town for the weekend the day after my Christmas party. I was hoping to squeeze in a quality long run on the Saturday before picking her up at the airport at 1pm, so it was crucial to manage the party excess.

I stuck to my damage limitation plan: a little red wine, soaked up with a steak dinner and interspersed with lots of water, meant that I was able to hop out of bed refreshed.

Joined by my work colleague, Seamus, we set a brisk pace down the Steven's Creek Trail in Mountain View. We covered a fast eight miles together, and I tacked on another seven.

I'm starting my official Boston Marathon training plan in January, which will keep me motivated over Christmas.

Irish Independent

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