Eat, drink...and be healthy
When it comes to Christmas, most people look forward to a sumptuous feast of festive proportions.
We’re ready to tuck into turkey and all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding, while we glug our mulled wine and drown in a sea of mince pies.
Keeping fit mostly flies out of the window while we concentrate on enjoying time with family and friends by a roaring fire, or getting the pints in at the pub.
So how do we resurrect our ailing fitness routines after all this excess?
We asked the area’s fitness experts and their answers were very much split about the idea of either waiting until it’s all over or looking to balance things out with a few runs in between the helpings of rich food.
Bic Singh is a personal trainer who runs his own fitness classes on Castle Field in Southsea, at the Charles Dickens Centre in Landport and at Fitness First in Fratton.
His early morning outdoor class down by the seafront happens come rain or shine, so I headed down to meet him and his loyal fitness followers on a Saturday morning and find out how they plan on tackling that infamous Christmas indulgence.
Bic’s classes are not for the faint-hearted and while his tough love approach may not be everybody’s cup of tea, you can tell it really galvanises his class, who seem more than up for putting that added extra effort in.
I’m told no workout is the same when you’re training with Bic, that he mixes things up on a consistent basis and he creates a training logic that is easy to buy into.
‘The key to getting through this festive period if you’re worried about your fitness is that you have got to balance it all out,’ Bic says.
‘If you go hell for leather with the high-carb meals all through the day, then you’re really gonna feel it when you try and do some exercise.
‘A tip would be to maybe get that run in during the morning. It doesn’t have to be a long run, just give yourself that 15-20 minute period in the morning before you settle down to your mince pies later in the day.
‘I think people tend to think that it won’t help by doing exercise during the festive period, but the key thing is that at least doing something is much better then doing nothing at all.’
He says that those who care about keeping fit should look at the festive period as an event, almost in the same way that we think of holidays as a target to have our body looking a certain way.
‘The key to it is about making sure you work on your cardio up until Christmas or the new year and then let yourself have some fun on those days as you’ve already put all the hard work in.’
Bic says that for those who are looking to put the dumbbells down until the new year, the key to building the body up is ‘progression.’
‘Whatever you do, make sure you do not go over the top from the start, I know that it can be tempting, but just ease your body into it otherwise you’re more likely to injure yourself and then that will really hit your self-esteem.
‘Just set yourself the target and take it in steps as a long-term thing. No-one’s body is going to change overnight but think about doing patterns like interval training, not running too far and understanding the limits to which you can push your body before you start feeling the strain.’
Fiona Wilson, from North End, has recently signed up to Bic’s classes to boost her fitness.
She says that she has no plans to hold off on feasting over the festive period.
‘I think you have got to let yourself go’, she says.
‘I’ll find ways to do some kind of fitness during the period, like going for a walk every day with the dog.
‘You shouldn’t let yourself feel guilty about it. It’s Christmas!
‘When it’s all done, I think I’ll start by cutting out the carbs as much as I can and stick to a core diet of protein and vegetables. I usually have smoked salmon or porridge for breakfast so that will be my starting plan.’
Mark Etherington, from Southsea, has got himself into great shape after signing up to Bic’s classes three years ago.
He says that for those looking to keep going with their fitness routines, the festive period should not deter them.
‘For me, I’m just carrying on through with it. Of course, I plan to indulge a little bit, but I’m going to keep going with my regular routine by doing some running and maybe a few trips to the gym.’
Janice Mills, also from Southsea, adds: ‘For me, I exercise so I can eat as I absolutely love food and you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself as long as you put the work in.
‘Both working out and eating make me feel good so I just have the two hand in hand.
‘I think I’m going to find time to be in the gym over the festive period, excluding Christmas Day obviously, as the key thing to do over this period is to balance it out.
‘Otherwise, when it comes to getting back down to the normal routine in the new year, you really struggle to get back to where you were.’
Bic, who is a former academy footballer, says visualising your goals is important.
‘When you stand in front of that mirror, visualise what your targets are and don’t get yourself down if it does not happen instantly. It will take time, so just take it month by month, and very soon you will start seeing results.’