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How not to gain weight over Christmas (but still have fun)

how not to gain weight over ChristmasArticle by Anne Elliott

What is Christmas to you? A time of festive jollity, family and friends, presents under the tree and wall to wall parties? Or perhaps it’s preparation stress, concern about the cost, overindulgent rich foods, wall to wall television and expanding waistlines. As ever reality is usually somewhere in the middle.

However, for many people who have done their best to stay active and worked hard to maintain a healthy weight, Christmas can be a terrifying tunnel of concern that you will undo all the good of the previous 12 months, after all everything is stacked against you; time pressures mean you can’t get to the gym or exercise class, guests and family arriving mean you have to be the hostess with the most-est, an onslaught of advertising and promotion saying its not Christmas if you haven’t filled the larder with the richest foods from around the world and of course arranging the furniture around the blazing television to hunker down for an extended festive season that used to be 2 days but now stretches from office parties the week before Christmas all the way through to January 2nd or 3rd. My final bit of gloom, that I have mentioned in previous years and taking all these things into account is this formula:

• The average woman needs 2000 kcals and man needs 2500 kcals to maintain weight.

• The average woman will eat approx 6500 cals (7000+ for men) PER DAY of this holiday.

• 3500 kcals = 1 pound of fat

• Our average woman/man is consuming 4500 kcals + of excess food PER DAY.

• Little to no exercise over this period means all excess calories are turned into fat.

• 14 days x 4500 kcals = 63,000 surplus calories. This is 18 pounds of fat.

• That’s where that stone and a bit came from!


But forearmed is forewarned in my book. My aim is to be the same weight on 3rd January as I am on the 20th December. I know its not going to be easy and I know I don’t want to miss out on any of the fun things. So I keep a few precious thoughts with me:

 Tips for maintaining your weight during Christmas while still having fun

a) I’m not going to say “I can’t eat” anything and will try anything my heart has a wish for, but just because I fancy some cheese doesn’t mean I have to eat an entire stilton. Keep ‘tasting menus’ in your mind. Have small amounts of different tastes for a change. I love Christmas cake but can live with a 1 inch wedge rather than the customary 2 inch piece.


b) Sitting for protracted periods in warm stuffy rooms is not good so why not schedule into your day a brisk walk around the park to either build up your appetite or use up some of the extra calories. Then a snooze through the Bond movie is guilt free!


c) Play Twister with your guests.


d) Get your children outside and moving and do it with them.


e) Try and get to your usual exercise classes if they are on around the bank holidays, if not then why not go for a swim for a change. If you are under stress making everyone else’s Christmas perfect, a few short windows just for you will recharge your smiling face no end.

 Little Changes make a Big Difference

Little changes here and there together may make a big difference. Manouevering through the festive period is tricky but possible and if successful might leave you with the happiest of memories of Christmas 2013 because you started 2014 in good shape.


I hope you have a fabulous, fun and fit festive period.






ANNE ELLIOTT is 52. She has a Personal Training Practice that specialises in working with middle-aged clients and their associated health problems. She lectures in Sports Science at Middlesex University, is an ABAE boxing referee, is registered with REPS at Level 4 and is undertaking a Doctorate in exercise in middle age. Anne appears regularly in the media talking about her specialisation - exercise in middle age.

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