During the holidays, discipline in achieving and maintaining fitness goals is often put to the test. The abundant offering of delicious treats and festive temptations poses a challenge for most of us. Those who manage to find a good balance between indulgence and maintaining a healthy training routine during this time will benefit in the long term.
In a 2018 study, known as the Winter Weight Watch Study, it was found that the population experiences an average weight gain of 0.4 to 0.9 kg during the Christmas holidays. Even though the readers of this blog article likely have a higher interest in exercise than the population average, the topic remains relevant. After all, athletes are also exposed to the numerous factors responsible for holiday weight gain.
The main factors for holiday fitness loss and weight gain
During the Christmas season, there is often an abundance of calorie-rich treats, festive meals, and sweets. Consequently, for endurance athletes, this means that additional exercise is necessary to offset potential calorie excess. This brings us to the second point.
REDUCED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Holidays typically disrupt the regular training rhythm. Cold weather, social obligations, and travel can result in less time for the usual training routine. This may lead to insufficient burning of additional calories, and there is also the risk that overall fitness may decline due to reduced exercise.
The preparations for Christmas, shopping, and celebrations often take up a lot of time. This is another factor that plays into the second point and can impact the quantity of training and, consequently, physical fitness.
The holiday season can be stressful, whether it’s due to gift shopping, preparations for celebrations, or other commitments. Stress can negatively affect fitness by causing fatigue, impaired recovery, and even emotional eating.
During the Christmas holidays, alcoholic beverages are often plentiful. Excessive alcohol consumption not only provides extra calories but can also compromise post-training recovery and reduce athletic performance.
How to counteract holiday fitness loss?
The study mentioned earlier highlights some aspects that can counteract the negative effects:
- Create awareness and implement controls
By reading this blog article, you have already contributed to fulfilling this task by raising awareness of the issue. If you want to deepen this awareness and simultaneously introduce a certain level of control, the study suggests regularly weighing yourself. However, at 2PEAK, we focus more on movement and knowledge, considering constant weighing as not necessarily essential.
- Know the calorie equivalents
Another point mentioned in the study is being informed about the calorie equivalents of your favorite holiday foods. When discussing calorie equivalents of foods, we compare the calorie amount with another unit of measure to better understand how much energy is in that food. Specifically, you could visualize how long you need to cycle to burn the calories of the chocolate bar in front of you.
- Plan time for exercise despite festive activities
For example, meet with friends for a joint workout on Christmas morning to kick off the holiday.
- Avoid overeating
- Drink enough water, especially before meals.
- Enjoy festive treats consciously and in moderation
The key here is the emphasis on doing this in moderation—completely avoiding it is not a solution 😉
- Ensure stress-free breaks
- Link social activities with movement, for example, a walk or short workout after eating.
The holidays are called so for a reason, and it’s perfectly okay to indulge a bit. At the same time, it certainly doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on health and physical fitness. With the mentioned tips, you can find a balanced way to keep the negative consequences of indulgence in check.
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