Written by Callum Melly
How To Stay Focused During Party Season…
Daily routines normally goes out the window over party season, so what’s the best way to ensure you get enough exercise in the run-up to Christmas, when you’re juggling nights out and hangovers?
I think the key word here is “routine”, if your already in a routine then you shouldn’t let a few overindulgent meals or boozy nights out compromise your current exercise routine.That being said, the festive period is always full of temptations, it’s a very social period & by all means, you should relax a little & enjoy yourself.
It’s all about living a balanced lifestyle & enjoying everything in moderation, you shouldn’t feel guilty for having a naughty meal or a few cocktails, but personally I feel a lot better when I get my workouts in & eat healthily for the majority of the day!
I always recommend getting your workouts in first thing in the morning, you are more likely to make health conscious decisions when it comes to food for the rest of the day as mentally you don’t want to undo your hard work! This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym, why not switch up your usual routine for my body-weight home circuit below.
#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.
#1 Body Weight Squat
#2 Press Up
#4 Mountain Climbers
#6 Alternating Lunge (on the spot)
#7 Hip/Glute Bridge
#8 Russian Twists
So how does exercise counteract the excesses of the party season? Obviously it helps deal with all those extra calories, but are there any other benefits, such as boosting the immune system so we don’t get run down? Help with sleep? The stress of Christmas?
There are countless benefits of exercising that are often related to improving our physical well being such as fat loss & building a lean, shaped & toned body; however, our mental well being is also significantly affected when we exercise. Personally, I find the 60-90 minutes I spend exercising each day is my time to collect my thoughts, physically & mentally challenge myself & as strange as it sounds, to unwind & de-stress!
Anytime we exercise we release natural endorphins that can enhance our mood & provide us with a more positive outlook on not just our day, but life in general! You get that “feel good” factor when you exercise that can certainly combat excess stress over the festive period.
Sleep is also extremely important for both our physical & mental well-being; you should be aiming for 8-9 hours of sleep per night & exercise can certainly promote healthy deep sleep.
Type Of Exercise
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 always 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! Both resistance & HIIT workouts can promote post-exercise calorie burn for up to 48 hours so it is certainly a very effective way to stay lean over the festive period.
Firstly, stay hydrated, especially if you like a boozy night out on the town! I would always recommend drinking as much water as you can when you get home after a night out; hangovers are influenced by a lack of good liquids in your system (H2O) & consequently make you dehydrated.
I will also recommend having a healthy meal or a protein shake readily available at home to eat before bed, which will get some nutrient dense food into the system as well as preventing you getting any junk food like a kebab on the way home. I often feel better in the morning for eating something after a night out.
Start your day with a balanced & nutrient dense breakfast. I like to have a bowl of blueberry, almond butter & vanilla protein oats or a vanilla, almond & blueberry protein smoothie. They’re both high in protein, healthy fats & balanced carbohydrates that will keep you feeling full & prepare you for whatever the day ahead has to throw at you! They’re also both rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals & vitamins that can support your immune system & enhance your mood!
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:
(Example based on Callum being 27)
220 – 27(age) = 193
60% = 0.6 x 193 = 115.8
70% = 0.7 x 193 = 135.1
Callum’s optimal fat burn zone is between 115 & 135.
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.
#2 Lightly toast your pecans in coconut oil.
#3 Bake your sweet potato & once cooked, scoop out the orange flesh from your sweet potatoes & mash with a fork.
#4 I like to use “Sugar Free Syrup” maple syrup which is zero calorie & tastes great; drizzle your mash with your SFS, add your pecans & then mix & serve.
#5 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.
Why not keep hold of your leftover turkey & make some post Christmas day high protein snacks! Turkey is one of the leanest sources of protein available & some of my favourite 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 & pan fry, 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.