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Feeling busy and stressed out after a hectic festive period? Imagine how Santa Claus feels. This is a tough time for old St Nick – long and unsociable hours, grabbing unhealthy snacks on the fly and having little to no time to exercise. We doubt people will be baking mince pies with Stevia or leaving a flask of green tea out for Father Christmas as thanks for his festive labour. We all over indulge over the Christmas period, a time to celebrate with those closest to you over a big meal or a few Christmas drinks. It is only when the dust settles on New Year’s Day that we fall into a state of hungover guilt and declare that this is the year we make positive steps in terms of our health and fitness.
If Santa guzzles a brandy and a mince pie in every home, that is quite the calorie binge. So what can Santa do in terms of minimising the damage done over this period? Are there any golden tips that can help kick start our regimes going into the New Year? We asked a number of #TeamReflex athletes for their tips on getting St Nick back into decent nick and here is what they came up with. All of which can also be applied to your own regime if the gluttony of the festive period has taken hold…
Team Reflex’s dietician Rachel Hobbs says “Nutrition is the cornerstone of any health and wellness regime, without a foundation built on solid nutrition basics you will always be limited in your success. You cannot out train a bad diet”.
There are a few basics that Rachel would recommend to Santa when starting a festive fat loss regime. Firstly, get hydrated. Excess alcohol over Christmas can lead to dehydration but consuming enough H20 is crucial throughout the year. The brandies won’t help and neither will running around sweating in a big red outfit, meaning replacing those lost fluids is crucial. Not only will adequate hydration improve all manner of bodily functions and performance, your ability to use fat as an energy source is reduced when dehydrated.
You’d be forgiven for thinking jolly old St Nick should lay off the fats – but fat is actually your friend. Fats are key for brain and hormonal functions and are also very filling. Ensure a variety of nuts, avocado and animal fats, including oily fish, is present in your diet to stay full. Eating fat in isolation will not spike blood sugar levels and therefore will not cause fat storage. It is when fats are consumed alongside insulin spiking sugary foods that problems can occur. Eating foods rich in the essential fatty acid omega 3 can improve the body’s ability to moderate its blood sugar levels and reduce the chances of excess blood glucose being stored as fat. While natural fats are beneficial for health, they are calorific and should be consumed in moderation. If Santa is eating a bag of nuts at every home he’s going to force those poor reindeer to work overtime hauling his generous posterior around.
#TeamReflex cover model Alex Crockford is in totally agreement that diet is paramount when looking to shape up and says that “you cannot underestimate the power of a good breakfast”. It’s long been thought that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and while Alex would not necessarily agree with that notion, he understands the importance of ditching the sugar frosted cereals and choosing a high protein breakfast: “Santa, perhaps it’s time to remember that good old phrase, go to work on an egg”.
If you follow #TeamReflex girl Gauri Chopra on social media then you will know that she likes to get creative when it comes to creating meals, often emphasising the benefit of adding a little spice to your cooking. “Dieting can be dull if you’re restricting carbs and calories, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Gauri. “Adding spicy chillies, for example, can make your food exciting while also aiding fat loss. Chillies contain a compound called Capsaicin which can increase metabolic rate and will help Santa maintain those rosy red cheeks”.
Once you’re happy that you’re making steps in the right direction in terms of diet, it’s time to think about exercise and burning off those mince pies. #TeamReflex PT Tom Wright thinks it’s a wonderful thing that Santa wants to make positive steps but emphasises the need to seek professional advice before undertaking any exercise regime. He believes the key to dropping unwanted body fat is to build a little bit of muscle. “I know a lot of people will say that they don’t want to lift weights because they don’t want to become bulky, if only it were that simple,” Tom laughs, “building a little extra muscle tissue will mean that it takes additional calories for your body to function, which in turn means you will burn more calories doing nothing than someone with less muscle would.” We’re pretty sure Santa would like to be burning extra calories as he whizzes around on his sleigh this Christmas and that extra muscle will help him carry all of those heavy gadgets you’ve all asked for.
#TeamReflex cover model and coach Olly Foster is a big advocate of finding balance in life. “If you can find a balance that works for you, your health kick will be sustainable. Hitting every home in the world in one night is enough to ramp up the stress levels in even the most patient of us. Stress from work and training can raise a hormone in the body called cortisol, which can be detrimental to both muscle building and fat loss. Also, burning the candle at both ends never ends well – what goes up must also come down. Remember, the importance of taking time out of your day to rest and recuperate should not be underestimated.”
Finally, #TeamReflex’s Jacqueline Hooton has worked in the fitness and fashion industry for years and has helped people of all shapes and sizes to achieve their goals. “Fitness needs to be enjoyable, therapeutic even. Fitness does not have to be restricted to the gym, the outdoors offers a wonderful arena for fitness. Running along the beach, cycling around town, walking to work or walking the dog, opportunities to burn calories and improve your fitness present themselves every day”.
There you have it, tips for Santa from a selection of fitness pros. Now it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing whether he turns up in December 2016 able to give some of #TeamReflex a run for their money. Good luck to Santa, and we hope these tips are of even greater use to your own post-Christmas get-fit regimes! Here’s to a healthy New Year. To get started, take a look at our Health & Wellbeing range or alternatively, our Weight Management section.