Keeping those Christmas pounds off
  Keon Dwayne Birch
Fit Pulse
December 2014

The blend of pastelles, black cake, ham and sorrel, the humming to the latest soca parang mix playing on the radio, and the smell of new curtains and sheets; or the balancing of travel itineraries, menus, chores and home repair tasks. These are among the distinct signs that the Christmas season is in full swing. The streets are so packed with last minute shoppers that most average sized cars find it difficult to not drive over a Christmas bargain hunter’s foot. Putting that aside, the Christmas holiday has always been a very social time for Trinidad and Tobago, where gatherings are plentiful and particular coveted foods that were not available all year round find themselves on almost every menu in a food court. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. After all, what is an office Christmas party without pastelles or asking for the phone number of the lady that provided the black cakes?! December however tends to be the period where belts have to be slackened and pounds seem to stealthily pack on until someone points out your “sudden” weight gain after New Year’s Day.

Do you actively think about staying lean throughout the season? You’ve worked hard to attain your Carnival body earlier on in the year and were so inspired by the healthy lifestyle that you continued training consistently and making intelligent nutritional decisions the months after. Where did these inches come from?! Weight gain during any holiday season happens more frequently than anyone would like to admit, which can lead to many frustrations and persons abandoning their fitness goals.

If you looked back at your last three Christmases, will you see a trend that has been keeping you in a counter-productive circle year after year? As with any challenge, staying motivated and on track will require you to dig deeper into that inner strength that you know you have, especially if a lot of your family and friends do not follow similar holistic and nutritional regimes.

 

When you go to the gym and get a personal trainer, it’s his job to create a strategy that is going to get you to shed body fat and achieve whatever fitness means to you. However, in a season where you are going from house to house between family members who flew in to friends for the “boy’s lime,” it is up to you to keep things in check. Here are a few dos and don’ts to implement and follow to keep fully accountable until it’s time to usher in the New Year.

 

  • Change the Way you look at Time vs To Do Lists. Putting aside the parties, gatherings and food, Christmas can be an overwhelming time. With all the invitations to honour, all the chores to get done and ‘To Do’ Lists to complete, the easiest thing to do is to validate that you don’t have time to train. It’s understandable that there are so many things to juggle and balance, but there is always a solution. The rooms need to be painted, drains need to be cleared, your mother wants the furniture in every room rearranged and the yard must be cleaned. With enough intensity and concentration, you can build a sweat with functional movements that rival any workout. Jolie Bookspan, MEd PhD states that Personal Functional Exercise and Fitness include healthy bending (mechanically healthy squat and lunge) for reaching and stooping to clean your living spaces, to pick up clothes, laundry and children, to sweep floors, and to pick up things.


 

  • Stick to Bottled Water during a Delayed Flight. With a chicken wrap bordering on 500 calories and with a gourmet chocolate chip cookie ranging from 200 to 300 calories, imagine how easy it is to consume over 2000 calories within 4 hours after the announcement that your flight has been cancelled or delayed. The Christmas season is notorious for having delays of many kinds and it is how you deal with them that will define you. Well, maybe not, but just as a good breakfast will impact your day positively, starting off your vacation on the right foot can set the tone for the rest of your trip. In case of a delay, make sure to have your bottled water ready to keep you hydrated and those cravings at bay. Most airlines now allow you to go onto the plane with your own food. Do your full meal prep (snack included) so that you can come off the plane not feeling bloated from all the high sodium snacks you consumed in boredom.


 

  • Ice Cream is not Synonymous with Christmas. Given that it is Christmas and all, you have that universal approval to moderately indulge in the foods that are synonymous with the season, BUT that is not an invitation to the caramel ice cream you’ve been eyeing in your aunt’s freezer! The more restricted you are can make the Christmas holiday more challenging for you, but going for that can of Pringles after that pastelle, knowing fully well that the ponche-d-crème and sorrel are being served momentarily isn’t the most nutritionally responsible decision. Rest assured that you will be paying in weeks to come.


 

  • Exercise before a Big Meal. As said before, making exercise a priority during this time can be very difficult, but if you can, do it! From Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day with friends and family, there is a big meal every day, fully garnished with baked hams, variations of Christmas Rice and other high sodium delicacies. However, if you make that big meal your post workout meal, then not all will be lost. The workout can be simple and engage 65-75% of your max heart rate. If your heart rate is too high and the workout too intense, that can actually leave you feeling too famished, therefore eating more than you should. But if you have a set of dumbbells or medicine balls at home, you can sufficiently get your body into a fat burning mode and utilize that meal to replenish and repair your muscles. Here is a workout that can sufficiently do just that:

Thrusters (Neutral Grip) 3 x 15

Medicine Ball Swings 3 x 15

Shoulder Press (Pronated Grip) 3 x 10

Sprawls/Burpees 3 x 10

In a Christmas culture filled with curried duck competitions and a festive function every week leading up to the big day, it is easy to throw caution to the wind and be consumed by the whirlwind of preparation, but understand that the season comes around once every year for as long as any one person can remember. Your goals, however, do not. Do you want to know how to keep the weight off during such a high caloric season? It can be summed up in these two quotes: “Fortune Favours the Prepared” and “Self Control.”

By: Keon Dwayne Birch | Fit Pulse | December 2014


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