3 Months to Christmas, How are You going to Approach it?
Ahhh Christmas... The time of year when calendars fill up with drinks gatherings upon drinks gatherings and advent calendars empty their chocolatey goodness at breakfast...
Which is all fine but it does make keeping some semblance of a fitness routine going, difficult. But let's rewind, as that's about three months away. Three months / 12 weeks is a decent amount of time to really ingrain good habits and see a significant change to your body composition. ie. burn a bit of fat, build a bit of muscle, and learn the skills to do both, for life. In fact, the two best things to help you through the festive period are: i. a good weekly routine, as that will mean you're more likely to stick to it and keep at least some good habits going (drinking more water, smashing out some daily press-ups or squats, for example) and ii. more muscle, as that means you'll be burning calories at an increasingly higher rate. ie. you'll burn more even when not working out - this is because lean muscle takes more energy (calories) to support than fat or any other tissue in the body - so it's a virtuous circle... Build some muscle, find it easier to stay lean, build more muscle, find it easier to stay lean, and so on. How can you work on both of these? 1. Diarise your workouts So simple but so effective. Whatever you use to plan your weeks, phone, diary, Filofax (don't laugh, my Dad still has one), on Sunday evening, look ahead to the week and write in when you're going to exercise. That way you'll see it as a real appointment that can't be moved or swapped. There are various numbers bandied around about how long it takes for habits to stick, the key is, there has to be some repetition there for the pathways to start forming in your brain, so put a reminder to do this every week. 2. Do something every day No, not a full workout - although if that's your thing, go for it! It could be 10 press-ups, that would be enough to remind you that you practise self care and that it's ok to prioritise your health and fitness. It can also give you a little confidence boost, before you walk out the door in the morning - shoulders back, chest up, ready to face the day. 3. Start resistance training - ie. lift some weights This doesn't mean you've got to run to your nearest gym and put a bar on your shoulders. About 40% of my clients workout at home, and all you need to get started is a pair of dumbbells - these from Decathlon are £10.99. Lifting weights is the greatest gift you can give yourself and has so many benefits that you'd get bored reading said list of benefits, if I put them all here... Oh alright:
Increase bone density (reduce risk of osteoporosis)
Increase testosterone (make it easier to build muscle, increase sex drive)
Increase muscle strength (easier to pick things up)
Increase muscle size (more heft when you need it)
Improve flexibility and balance (and thus cognitive function)
Burn calories at a higher rate thanks (easier to stay lean)
Reduce risk of chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes (live healthier for longer)
And loads more. LOADS more. 4. Gradually learn a bit about nutrition This doesn't require night school or studying every weekend for six years. A simple understanding of what's in the things you eat, and really just the calories to start off with, will greatly help your understanding here. And not even everything you eat, just the main things you eat regularly. Humans are creature of habit, so you probably eat the same thing for breakfast each day. So it's not inconceivable that you could find out from the packet or from the My Fitness Pal app how many calories it contains, store that in your head (or in the app!) to learn roughly how much you consume in a day. Plus, the app will give you a suggested target to help you either gain or lose weight. And that's it! So there are the best four things you can start to do to help prepare you for the Christmas period. Any other good ones you'd like me to share? Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get them out! Best wishes, Matt