Wednesday, 14 November 2012

It's official.. I've seen the Coca-Cola Advert!

With just under 6 weeks to go until Santa hitches up Rudolph and his mates to the trusty sled, Christmas is fast approaching. I know it’s true as I have seen the Coca-Cola Advert and am patiently awaiting the showing of Home Alone.. Home Alone 2 is the best by way.. But apart from classic films and Christmas countdowns this means endless work parties, insurmountable plates of food, and what seems like an automatic refillable wine glass. During the Christmas period it is suggested that the average person gains 5lbs through excessive consumption!

Now I’ll be the first to admit I love Christmas and everything that comes with it. It’s a time to catch up with family and friends and have a good ol’ yarn shared over a couple pints of Somerset’s finest Medium Cider (Spot the Country Bumpkin!)

Cheers Rog!!

I’m not asking you to go cold turkey (excuse the pun). Lets be realistic, there will be a high level of indulgence but how about this year, instead of getting to January 1st and feeling a tremendous amount of guilt (along with experiencing the mood swings due to the high sugar foods and bloated feeling from all those mince pies and other trans-fatty treats) try something different. Approaches that will make you feel that you have earned that Xmas Pudding. Demolish that feeling of guilt, which can subsequently lead to stress, and an increase in the hormone cortisol, which leads to fat storage (more on that at a later date!)

Just like a job, you work hard at your occupation and persist to get the rewards, i.e. a bonus, a promotion. It’s the same with exercise, you work hard, and you see results, fitting into that dress that you couldn’t 6-weeks ago. Smashing your 3k running time or nailing a PB on the Bench Press.

I like to use an analogy with training and exercise. Consider it ‘Money in the Bank.’ You’ve worked hard, be it in the gym, or at the food you consume. If you’re like me, you like to treat yourself now and again, everyone’s human right?!

Well this analogy can be used with Xmas. By training hard during this Christmas period and earning that all-important ‘Money in the Bank’ Why not treat yourself for all that hard work and dedication. The key principle is that is should all be in moderation.

What happens when you over-spend? You become over-drawn and as a result get charged by the bank. What happens when a cheeky doughnut ‘treat’ becomes a daily occurrence? Or that glass of wine becomes a bottle? You become over-weight, which can lead to all sorts of health problems..

Alcohol is a depressant, it negatively affects your training and health, it contains ‘empty’ calories and raises estrogen levels (beer mostly). It pounds your liver, ruins your sleep and diminishes muscle recovery functions. I could write an entire article on the negative effects of alcohol but I just want you to get the message that if training is important to you, you will limit your alcohol consumption.

People often wait until January to set new goals or ‘resolutions.’ The question I’m going to pose to you today is, ‘why wait until January?’ With my personal training clients I’m forever asking them what their goals are. We set long-term goals, and short-term goals.  It’s the best way to measure progression and avoid that dreaded plateau. Once a goal has been achieved, we evaluate and look to devise new ones. All under the SMARTER acronym (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time related Exciting and Recorded).

6 weeks is plenty of time to make a considerable change on your body composition, alter your nutritional habits and generally feel better in yourself. Have people commenting on how good you look over the Christmas period don’t follow the crowd and gain that extra 5lbs by pigging out at those xmas parties. Here are a couple of strategies to help get you through:

Choose the Least bad option:

One of the bonuses of this time of year is the food of choice (turkey) is high in muscle building protein. Ladies this is what you need as well – don’t panic you won’t look like the Incredible Hulk! A negative however, is the large amount of carb-heavy foods that can cause major problems for insulin health and body composition. The high levels of carbs cause a quick insulin spike that causes signals to move glucose out of the bloodstream and blood sugar levels crash. The only way the body knows how to elevate these is to crave more carb heavy foods. So it’s best to fill up on protein. If you’re invited to a Xmas drinks and are invited to bring something, take something gluten free or high in protein to keep those sweet cravings at bay.

Drink Green tea to minimize the effects of Alcohol.

You’ve probably heard by now how great this drink is but there’s no harm re-iterating what it can do for your health. Green tea is crammed full of anti-oxidants which help to diminish oxidative stress. As mentioned previously, alcohol is a massive stressor on the body. Green tea helps to detoxify the liver and can even help with feelings of a hangover. Green tea elevates glucose uptake and the polyphenols found in the drink help to boost your metabolism and intensify levels of fat oxidation.

Get enough sleep.

Sleep is so important. It is a natural weight deterrent and a stress eliminator. Studies have shown that individuals with reduced sleep crave more foods with high sugar and saturated fat. Sleep deprivation also causes a reduction in growth hormone (the hormone of youth) elevated cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which lead to fat storage. By getting a better sleep you make better food choices, can bang out an awesome workout and generally feel good! If you struggle with insomnia, look at taking a magnesium supplement to help with better sleep. If that fails… revert to counting sheep!!!

So why not start today?! It will be a lot tougher to jump on the bandwagon with everyone else come January 2013. Head into the gym/out in the park/into the pool, full of purpose and INTENSITY!! Make people sit up and notice you for the right reasons this Christmas. 

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