How can we keep up with a healthy diet and fitness program at Christmas time let alone lose weight? What with all of the usual Christmas and New Year celebrations going on around us, day after day, it just can`t be done can it?

 That answer is simple: Stick with your plan. You’ve overcome temptations and slip-ups before. Every day poses challenges, yet you remain strong and continue to make progress toward your goals. Why should the holidays be any different?

If you want to lose weight this month, you can. You just have to be realistic and organised and take each day one day at a time.

Here are 20 tips that will help you keep Christmas weight gain at bay and maybe lose a few pounds by new year.

1. Keep up your food diary. That means all of your food and drink, from the spoonful of cookie dough you ate while baking to the free sample of ham at the grocery store. These “hidden” calories are easy to gloss over but can really add up. Plus you know from experience how it helps you to lose weight and eat better. If you do nothing else during the holidays, track your food sensibly every day.

2. Plan your meals. A continuation of tip #1, plan your meals and snacks in advance so you can enjoy your favorites and still stay on track. Before you head to another party or sit down for a holiday dinner, pre-plan your food for the day.

3. Look up foods before you bite. You could use calorie count on my site to calculate the nutrition information in your favorite foods so you can add them to your diary. Look up your favourites like “mince pies” and see what is actually in them before you help yourself. Remember it is not about denying yourself… just being aware and then making a choice.


4. Make fitness a priority. I like to remind people that food is only one part of the equation that determines whether you’ll lose or gain weight. Fitness is just as important. Don’t let your workouts go by the wayside. You will probably need an excuse to get out the house right?  

5. Schedule your workout like an appointment. You wouldn’t miss work, a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting to bake cookies or do some  Christmas shopping, would you? Add your workouts to your calendar so that other obligations don’t get in the way of your gym time.

6. Bring your own food. This is a great tip if you’re heading to a party and don’t know what’s in the food (or how it was prepared). Pick a healthy, lower cal recipe that you can bring. No matter what kind of food is there, you’ll have at least one dish you can eat with confidence.

7. Limit alcohol. It lowers inhibitions, making it more likely that you’ll forget about your nutrition plan and over indulge. Plus, alcohol alone is pretty high in calories. If you can party hop without drinking at all, you’ll be better off. If you must drink, nurse your glass slowly, choose diet-friendly drinks, and limit the number of servings.

8. Re-gift treats and food. Of course, your loved ones mean well when they give you delicious food but just because they give them does not mean you have to eat all of them! There are plenty of opportunities to re-gift food gifts over Christmas: bring them to parties, and other get-togethers. Or, donate  shop bought foods to a local homeless kitchen or hospital.

9. Bring your food to work. This time of year share it in a communal space like the office staff room for others to partake of as they choose.

10. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills. It’s easy to go over your calories one day and feel like a failure. But remember that it takes much more than one day of overeating to thwart your progress. Accept your slip-ups, learn from them and move on.

11. Add 10 extra minutes of cardio to your days. Some experts say that adding just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise to your usual workout routine can counter the effects of a little extra Christmas eating. You can spare an extra 10 minutes, right? Even if you can’t fit it in all at once, try to do small amounts throughout the day. High-intensity moves like jumping jacks, high-knee running in place, or jumping rope all work. Or you can try our 10-mintue cardio videos to torch those extra calories in one shot.

12. Maintain your active lifestyle. Remember that “running” errands isn’t the same as running—or exercising. But the more activity you can add to your days (in addition to planned fitness) the better off you’ll be.

13. Keep an emergency snack on hand. Stashing some healthy and portable foods in your car, purse, and desk drawer can help satisfy your cravings and prevent you from going overboard on all the wrong foods. This is a good idea when you’re hungry at work and mince pies sound tempting, or when you’re shopping late  and hear the food aisle calling.

14. Watch your portions. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some once-a-year favorites if you keep your portions in check. Sometimes just a little taste is all you need.

15. Focus on people. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? At parties and gatherings, enjoy the good conversation and activities instead of hovering around the food table. Create lasting memories that don’t revolve around eating, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

16. Drink your water. Recent studies found that when people drink more water throughout the day, they end up eating fewer total calories. Water and water-rich foods can help fill you up longer. Keep a cup of water in hand at parties, sip water between bites, and meet your daily quota to help prevent overeating.

17. Wake up with exercise. People who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to exercise regularly than those who exercise later in the day. Even if you’re not a morning exerciser now, a.m. workouts might be the best way to squeeze fitness into your days before other things come up. Plus, when you exercise first, you’re less likely to over indulge with food later.

18. Don’t act as if it’s your only chance to eat. With every food that crosses your path, remind yourself that you’ll have plenty of chances later to eat. Forgo the “last supper” mentality and if you are not hungry or in the mood for a certain food, don’t feel obligated to eat it. 

19. Slow down. Savor your food and the experience of eating. You’ll eat less, feel more satisfied, and recognise feelings of hunger before it’s too late.

20. Keep your eye on the prize. Before you take a bite or hit snooze instead of hitting the gym, remember your goals. It’s going to take work to get there and survive the holiday season. Before you act, ask yourself, “Will this help me get where I want to go?” If not, make another decision. 

Remember that YOU are in control during Christmas and New Year , not the other way around. Here’s to staying fit, looking great, and reaching your goals all month long!

Eat well, Train hard, stay warm.

Rachel Benton

Personal Training

Bedford, UK

[email protected]