Christmas cocktails, party pies, ham, stuffing, and that extra serving of pavlova will add up. 'Tis the season to gain weight, and Nutrition Australia reports the average Australian gains from 0.8 of a kilo up to 1.5kgs over the holiday period. What's next? History suggests that by mid-January, you'll have broken your New Year's resolution to lose weight and get fit, and the gym will sink back to its normal attendance figures.
Rather than attempt to (poorly) sing you the classic 12 Days of Christmas, it would be more appropriate to pass on the 12 Tips of Fitness to help you beat the averages and not gain Santa's belly in 2013.
If being a gym bunny is not your thing, that's cool – just get outdoors and do what you enjoy.
1) Choose your moments
Go for it! Enjoy the festivities with some naughty food and a few too many drinks. Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve are some of the most memorable days of the year. But if you have two weeks off from work, don't act like an American on a Caribbean cruise tackling the buffet morning, noon and night. Choose a day here or there, and make the rest of them healthy. Develop healthy habits in the kitchen during the holiday season.
2) Work out
If you can't get to the gym, try ten minutes of as many rounds as possible of 5 push-ups, 10 squats, and 15 sit-ups. Try three sessions of this over the holiday period and compete against the session prior.
3) Be active
It's not all about structured exercise. Go swimming with your mates or children. Hike. Bike. Go for a beach walk. Play touch footy with your team. If being a gym bunny is not your thing, that's cool – just get outdoors and do what you enjoy.
4) Skip rope
Skip the 'AbDominator', skip the gym, skip the 20kg tubs of protein, and ask your partner for a skipping rope for Christmas. My favourite is made by Nike because the handles weigh 0.25kg. It may not seem like much, but try 500 jumps and check out your heart rate and arms. Skipping rope is high in intensity and should be within every fitness regime.
5) Work out
Get some Vitamin D via the sun and a scenic jog, and when you're ready to increase the intensity, find some stairs. Run 500 stairs, and see if you can climb (and descend) within a six-minute period.
6) Enjoy some nights in by just saying no
As soon as we enter the homes of our mates during Silly Season, the food tsunami hits and the kilos follow. How about saying no to a few parties and staying in? Hire some movies, relax, and get some good rest to ensure a solid morning workout. Bad Santa and Elf are two festive movies not to be missed. A Christmas Story and It's a Beautiful Life are grand if you're feeling a bit more sentimental.
7) Work out
Find a local park with a hill, and sprint 50-100 metres up a hill, then perform 10 push-ups, 10 bodyweight squats, and 10 sit-ups. Walk down, and repeat nine more times.
8) Stop waiting
How many people proclaim 'Sure, I'll start that health plan in the New Year, but pass me the cake for now'. Why wait? You've got the time over the holidays to get good rest, shop for healthy food, and there's plenty of sunlight and time during the day to exercise. Stop procrastinating, and get started today.
9) Don't forget your friends
Your good mates over the holiday period are the basics – fruit, veggies, and protein meals served on salad. If you want to lose (or maintain) your weight, you need nutrients from healthy food. Ease up on the fried and fatty foods. Salmon and spinach salad, anyone?
10) Work out
If you hammered the buffet, burn some serious kilojoules with this outdoor circuit of Skip – burpees – run. Five rounds of 200 jump-ropes, 15 burpees, and a 100m sprint.
11) Commit, plan and execute
For 2013, commit to a healthier you. Take some time and determine what your commitment to your health will be in 2013 and beyond. Plan healthy weeks of eating fresh food rather than processed junk at food courts and in the dessert aisle. Execute in the gym or at home with exercise sessions that burn fat and develop lean muscle.
12) Do something for the less fortunate
Donate some clothes. Give a few presents to a family in need. Bring some turkey and ham leftovers to an individual living on the street. Help a lonely elderly person to smile, laugh, and feel loved. Some people have it rough during the holidays – reach out to them because it's the right thing to do.
I hope you'll unwrap at least a few of these gifts and have a safe, fun, and healthy holiday season.