Written by Callum Melly
Battle Of The Bulge
It’s Christmas morning, what exercise could someone do so it doesn’t eat into their day and leave them tired or aching throughout the day? Depending on your fitness level, I would recommend either of the following exercises.
Start your day with 30-60 minutes of fasted LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. This will not only wake your body up & set you up for a successful day, but it will also put you in a calorie deficit before your day has even begun. LISS cardio is great for targeted fat loss, it can help to improve your general health, fitness level & wellbeing & as the name suggests, it has a very low impact on your body, so can be done by anyone, anywhere. In order to maximise LISS cardio you need to be working between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate which can often be achieved from a power walk; you can calculate your optimal “fat burn zone” by completing the following equation:
220 – 27 (age) = 193
60% = 0.6 x 193 = 115.8
70% = 0.7 x 193 = 135.1
Optimal fat burn zone is between 115 & 135.
What series of workouts could someone do at home over the Christmas period and can’t make it to the gym?
I would always recommend a full body circuit workout as they can be done anywhere, anytime & all you need is yourself!
#1 30-45 seconds per exercise & complete every exercise back to back.
#2 Complete every exercise for the tempo 2:1:2, so if your doing a press up, you want to take 2 seconds during the eccentric lowering phase, 1 second pause when you are at the bottom of the movement & under optimal tension & then 2 seconds on the concentric pressing up phase.
#3 Complete 3-5 rounds & take 2 minutes complete rest between each round.
- Body Weight Squat
- Press Up
- Mountain Climbers
- Alternating Lunge (on the spot)
- Hip/Glute Bridge
- Russian Twists
What foods/treats could someone eat over the festive period which won’t damage the work they have done over the year?
There is no doubt about, Christmas & New Year are probably the most calorific times of the year where everyone including myself tends to overindulge & give in to temptation; however, tasty & healthy alternatives can be made to ensure at the very least that you maintain your previous progress. Here are some of my tasty & healthy food swaps that can be made:
#1 Swap your traditional “roast potatoes” for pecan & maple sweet potato mash. This is probably one of my favourite healthy alternatives that tastes great & is far lower in calories in comparison to your goose fat roasted potatoes.
– Lightly toast your pecans in coconut oil.
– Bake your sweet potato & once cooked, scoop out the orange flesh from your sweet potatoes & mash with a fork.
– I like to use “The Protein Works Zero” maple syrup which is zero calorie & tastes great; drizzle your mash with your TPW Zero maple syrup, add your pecans & then mix & serve.
#2 Curb sweet cravings with dark chocolate! Exchange your sugar laden milk chocolate bars for 2 squares (20g) of 85%+ Lindt chocolate a day can not only curb cravings, but it can also enhance your mood, aid fat loss & provide a source of healthy fats.
#3 Keep your leftover turkey & make some post Christmas day high protein snacks! Turkey is one of the leanest sources of protein available & some of my favorite quick & easy meals to make with any leftover turkey are:
Turkey & Sweet Potato Bubble & Squeak
– Pre-heat a pan with coconut oil.
– Dice & add some lean smoked bacon medallions & fresh cranberries to your pan.
– Mash together your leftover sweet potato mash, brussels & carrots.
– Add your cooked bacon, cranberries & diced cooked turkey to your potato mix.
– Make some flat cakes from the mix & panfry, once golden brown on both sides, serve & enjoy.
Turkey, Cranberry, Apple & Peanut Butter Wrap
– Spread a tbsp of peanut butter on a wholegrain wrap.
– Slice 1/2 apple.
– Slices your left over cooked turkey.
– Add some fresh baby spinach & sliced apple to your wrap.
– Add your sliced turkey to your wrap.
– Sprinkle your wrap with fresh cranberries, wrap up & serve.
Are there any foods that won’t leave you feeling tired or bloated that could be eaten on Christmas Day and Boxing Day?
The thing that people forget or simply don’t realize is that digestion is one of the most natural energy consuming processes of the body, so when we eat vast amounts of food, we can often feel lethargic. Too many sugary carbohydrates can also cause uncomfortable bloating & insulin spikes that can further add to that lethargic feeling. I always recommended following a high protein, high healthy fat & moderate carbohydrate diet that involves you eating your carbohydrates in the morning & pre & post workout for brain & muscle fuel & recovery. I tend to stick to low gi carbohydrates during the day such as oats, sweet potato, brown basmati rice & quinoa & have my faster absorbing carbohydrates post-workout such as white potato, white rice & cous cous.
What food do you believe would make the perfect healthy Christmas dinner?
Let’s get real, nobody is going to want to skip a traditional Christmas dinner, so here is my healthy & tasty alternative:
#1 Whole roast Turkey stuffed with homemade cranberry, chestnut & lean pork mince stuffing.
#2 Diced smoked lean bacon medallions, brussels sprouts & chopped walnuts.
#3 Sweet potato, pecan & zero calorie maple syrup mash.
#4 Steamed baby carrots & spring greens.
Is it better to eat set meals over Christmas, or graze throughout the day? Why?
I always recommend eating little & often, say every 2-3 hours as this will keep your metabolism working in full throttle. I also always prepare my meals the day before so I never go hungry or are tempted to snack on junk food; you see, we only tend to crave bad foods when we are hungry. The key is to know your daily calorie requirements based on your BMR (basal metabolic rate) & TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), it really is as simple as calories in vs calories out. If you want to lose weight you simply need to consume fewer calories than your daily TDEE requirement & to gain weight you have to consume more than your daily TDEE requirement. So by preparing your meals you can easily reached your desired goals.
What workouts are great for fighting Christmas indulgence once the festive season is over?
Any workout is better than no workout, but as I promote in my BODY IN 8 programme which is the worlds first 8-week virtual personal training programme; I would recommend following a structured resistance/weights based workout that will continually challenge you & add enough external stimulus to your entire body to promote change. I would also combine this with both LISS & HIIT cardio based workouts to promote fat loss!
What drinks can our readers enjoy over the party season that aren’t high in calories or leave them bloated?
If your trying to lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle then I wouldn’t recommend alcohol full stop; however, the reality is that alcohol is a big part of our social lives & can be enjoyed as part of a balanced & healthy lifestyle. I would always aim for a lower sugar & calorie option such as vodka diet coke or gin & slim line tonic; it’s not so much the calories you need to worry about, I am more conscious about the detrimental & irreversible damage that can be done to your body, especially your kidneys & liver from excess alcohol consumption. Furthermore, alcohol can effect the efficiency of your metabolism whilst in your system as it will slow down & become less effective at naturally burning body fat.
If someone had been out the night before drinking with friends and they’re due to workout the following day, when is best to do it? When they wake up, later in the day or the following day? What type of workout would you recommend – high/low intensity or other?
Firstly, I would always recommend drinking as much water as you can when you get home after a night out drinking; hangovers are influenced by a lack of good liquids in your system (H2O) & consequently make you dehydrated. I will usually also have some healthy food readily available at home or a protein shake before bed which just gets some food into the system, prevents you getting any junk food like a kebab on the way home & I often feel better for that in the morning.
I would then start my day with a bowl of blueberry protein oats or a protein & berry smoothie that’s rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals & vitamins that can help you to feel better quicker! Exercise wise, I would just train when I feel well enough to get the most out of my workout & getting a good sweat on often helps me to combat my hangovers! I would stick to the programme you are following, although maybe add in some extra LISS cardio at the end for some targeted fat burn.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start the gym in the new year and maintain it through the year?
Simple, you can’t change a lifetime of bad habits over night, but you can in 8 weeks. This is why I created BODY IN 8, because it takes 8 weeks of continuous external stimulus combined with a healthy balanced diet to promote significant change in your body composition, as well as your general health & wellbeing. So my advice is as simple as being persistent; your body is a metaphorical representation of both what you eat & how you move, so by getting active & eating healthy you will certainly see results & be able to maintain that; however, only of you are exercising correctly, challenging yourself & eating the right foods, right amounts & at the right times around your workouts. My BODY IN 8 programme guides you every step of the way, it is an educational programme that will get you into the best shape of your life, for life.
If someone has been a regular gym goer during the year, and decided to take Christmas and New Year off, and started back at the gym in the New Year. How can someone ease themselves back into the gym?
Slow & steady! Always make sure you warm up & ease your way back in, that doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself, but just be sure you know your limits & again prepare for the main event before starting! I always follow the below warm up before training:
– 3-5 minute cardio / pulse raiser
– 3-5 minutes dynamic stretch
– 3-5 minutes foam rolling for fascial release
What foods should someone be eating pre and post work out?
Pre-Workout I would recommend any of the following:
#1 Lean protein source, balanced carbohydrates (low gi) & greens (60-90 mins pre-workout)
#2 Myprotein “Impact Whey Isolate” & 20g / 2 squares 85%+ dark chocolate.
#3 Myprotein “Impact Whey Isolate” & Myprotein “Instant Oats”
Post-Workout I always go liquid with a protein & high gi carbohydrate shake such as Myprotein “Maltodextrin” for fast absorption that will promote lean muscle growth, recovery & help to replenish muscle glycogen stores. I also like to include 50-100g of blueberries for anti-inflammatory purposes.
If someone doesn’t want to be living in the gym all the time, what hobbies are great for keeping you fit and maintaining a good body and healthy lifestyle?
Any form of sport or exercise is good for you & if you don’t have time to get to the gym, play a sport or enjoy a past-time hobby; perhaps a home bases body weight circuit, run, cycle or even just switch up your commuting habits, walk rather than hop the bus, cycle rather than get the train, im sure you catch my drift.