The Fitness Diaries with Amber Brammah
Amber Brammah is a personal trainer and founder of Lovefit, Cambridge. Mum to Milo and a pre and postnatal specialist, she helps women get back into bodies they love. Here, she explains how she’ll be getting into the festive spirit this year. . .
Oh December! How we love you with your festive cheer, office parties, advent calendars and silly music. Trouble is, the sheer mania of the season tends to put people into a bit of a spin when it comes to their health and fitness.
There are two extreme camps:
1. Go completely mad, eating and drinking everything in sight ‘because it’s Christmas’.Abandon all exercise because you’re too busy and don’t have enough money. OR. . .
2. Restrict yourself rigidly in a bid to avoid temptation. Deny yourself even the teeniest of mince pies, decline invitations to parties, get up early on Christmas day to head out for a run.
Now, I personally think there’s a happy medium to be achieved (although if you fancy a run before opening your stocking then I wouldn’t dream of standing in your way). For me, Christmas isn’t a time to restrict yourself and to feel deprived. I’m also not a fan of labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘naughty but nice’. Ultimately, food is fuel, but it’s more than that: food is your life source, a means of connection to others, and a daily choice. Many people get into the mindset of thinking of food as punishment or reward and that can be really limiting.
I like the festive season to be filled with gatherings, laughter, and people I love. It’s not a time that I prioritise nutrition. I prioritise whatever makes me feel happy, and that changes year on year. That being said, I do think it’s important not to go totally off the rails, and I know people like a bit of practical advice, so here are my tried and tested tactics for surviving the festive period. . .
1) Practice mindfulness
I’m not talking about daily meditation (although I highly recommend that too). Eat what you like at all your events. Just do it mindfully. Ask yourself ‘do I really want this?’ before each drink, or before heading back to the buffet for the third time. Life is too short for guilt over food – food should be enjoyed! Whatever you indulge in, eat it slowly, chew it properly, taste it, savour it.
2) Go easy on the booze
It goes without saying, but it would be remiss of me not to point out that alcohol is full of empty calories. And when we get a bit tipsy, we tend to keep going with more drinks, and get hungry to boot. Nowadays there are so many alcohol-free options available, so ‘not drinking’ is no longer synonymous with having tap water or a lime and soda. You can pop your 0.5 per cent beer in a pint glass, your Nosecco in a flute, and adorn your Seedlip with ice and a slice. Happy days.
3) Keep exercising!
It’s not uncommon for people to put movement to the bottom of their priority list during December. I say this to my ladies every year, but if you get out of the habit on Dec 1 (and chances are you won’t get back to it until the second week of January) then you stand to lose five weeks of your normal routine! That’s a long time without your weekly dose of endorphins, strengthening, mobility, cardio. So stick to it as much as possible, and don’t give up completely, otherwise January is even tougher than it needs to be.
4) Keep things in perspective
While many will head into the New Year feeling bloated and worrying about how they’re going to shift a few extra pounds, spare a thought for those who don’t get the opportunity to stuff themselves over the festive season. Bigger problems and all that, eh? Consider looking into donating surplus buffet food from office parties to a homeless charity. That will really get you into the true Christmas spirit.
Find out more about Amber and Lovefit at lovefittraining.com
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