Top 10 Healthy Ways To Survive The Office Christmas Party

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Many people see it as a test of endurance and strong will. Fail it and you may end up in work the next day red-faced and ashamed, having consumed far too many calories as well! Here are our top 10 tips to help you get through the office Christmas party fun in a healthy way.

1

Eat a big lunch during the day

That way you won’t have an empty stomach when you hit the big bash and you won’t get too hungry during the night. This will help you to avoid snacking on unhealthy food after you’ve had a couple of drinks.

2

Stay hydrated

Keep a bottle of water with you and drink from it all day, so you don’t start the proceedings already dehydrated. Aim to drink at least 1.5 litres during the day.

3

Get your liver in shape

Take regular doses of the herb Milk Thistle a few days beforehand – it has been shown to assist the organ in processing alcohol.

4

Pass on the punch

Punch bowls are notorious for containing a concoction of booze that surprisingly tastes great – but is impossible to gauge how much you have actually drunk and this will come back to haunt you the next day. Punch is also highly calorific, especially if a number of juices and mixers are added in.

5

Eat mindfully

Eat a plate of food then put it down. Rather than standing near the buffet and tucking into it all night long – a sure way of over-indulging.

6

Collect canapé sticks

If it’s finger food, keep your canapé sticks to remind you how many you’ve put away – canapes are often quite rich, and have lots of calories for such a small mouthful.

7

Eat what you like

Only eat what you actually like – not just what’s put under your nose. Remember eating is not compulsory at these events! Although having a small meal is advised to mitigate any effects of the alcohol.

8

Pace yourself

A few festive cocktails to get merry is okay – but if you start to feel drunk and disorderly – JUST STOP! That way you’ll avoid any embarrassment and limit the number of unhealthy alcoholic drinks you consume.

9

Hit the dance floor

Even if you’re not a natural mover it will keep you distracted from food or alcohol. It’s also a great way to burn calories.

10

Pick healthy mixers

Stick to spirits with healthy mixers like slimline tonic or diet lemonade. Cocktails might seem tempting, but they are often a very high-calorie option, especially any made with creamy liqueurs, fresh cream, coconut milk or cream.

And, most importantly, enjoy yourself! Think of the party as a bit of a treat – if you follow these rules, you’ll be able to have fun and avoid adding inches to your waistline.

What To Get A Runner For Christmas

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1

Foam roller

Injury is unfortunately an occupational hazard when you’re a runner so it’s important to look after your body and to try and keep injuries at bay to enable you to bank consistent blocks of training. 

In an ideal world every runner would have a sports massage once a week, however in reality this is both expensive and time consuming. You can however give your body some much needed TLC with a foam roller. This simple bit of kit is perfect for releasing soft tissue and myofascial tightness.

2

High-vis gear

With the dark nights sadly not disappearing anywhere soon, high-vis, reflective gear is a must if you want to be safe and be seen. From jackets to tights to arm bands there is now a vast array of reflective apparel to choose from. However for those runners who aren’t keen on bright colours you don’t necessarily have to dress as if you are going to a neon rave! A lot of technical winter kit now includes reflective panels and prints.

3

Training diary

Whether you’re an elite athlete or a casual competitor, a training diary is a fantastic tool for many reasons. Not only does it serve as a great source of motivation when looking back at all the workouts that you’ve logged, it also enables you to objectively analyse why you are running well or maybe not so well.

4

Epsom salts

Many runners have low magnesium levels so one of the easiest ways to help top up your stores naturally is to add some Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) to your bath. A nice soak is great for muscle relaxation, particularly after harder sessions or long runs.

5

Energy gels

Although it doesn’t sound exciting, most runners, particularly those targeting the longer distances in the spring will be surprisingly chuffed with a selection of their favourite energy gels!

Some sports nutrition brands even produce seasonal selection packs that include gels, energy drink powders and sports bottles. All good running and bike shops will stock energy products and of course you’ll be able to find them on-line too.

6

Head torch

If you live in an area with limited street lighting or you fancy venturing off-road once daylight has diminished then a lightweight head torch should be added to your wish list. There are a wide range of head torches currently on the market but opt for one that can be worn comfortably, has ample battery life and provides good peripheral light too.

7

Physio vouchers

Whether you’re injured or not, a trip to see a physio for an all-over MOT is always a worthwhile pursuit for any runner. A physio screening can help to identify any weak or tight areas of your body that could potentially lead to injury if they aren’t addressed. Prevention is definitely better than cure!

Your Christmas Stress Survival Guide

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1

Financial difficulties

Solution: There’s no denying it; Christmas can certainly wreak havoc on our finances, with gifts to buy, nights out to attend, and food and drink to stock up on. However, it is important not to let financial pressures ruin your Christmas. Before you start making your festive purchases, try to write a list of everything you need to buy and set a realistic budget for each item.

If you find that your list is going to blow your Christmas budget, try to find some ways to cut back on gifts, such as by making homemade presents, looking for bargains online, or organising a Secret Santa for friends or siblings, rather than buying for each individual.

2

Family tensions

Solution: If the time spent with your extended family over Christmas always results in arguments, tears or tension-fuelled frosty silences, this can lead you to approach Christmas with a sense of apprehension or dread. To help cut out stress this Christmas, try to prepare yourself and have realistic expectations of your family. Accept that they are not perfect and that they will probably say things that you don’t like, but make a decision to try not to let it spoil your day.

To help keep the peace, try your best to steer clear of risky conversation topics – and alcohol – which may provoke rows, and keep everyone occupied with fun sports or games after your meal. If you feel your stress levels rising, try to take a few moments to yourself and take some deep breaths to help you relax.

3

Social obligations

Solution: A lot of us find that the festive period is met with an overwhelming amount of demands on our time from friends and family. There are work parties to attend, friends to meet up with, and the question of who to see on Christmas day. To minimise your risk of double booking yourself over this busy period, try to keep a diary or calendar displaying all your planned events so far. You could also try combining events and mixing groups of friends, if you think they will get along.

Also, remember that not all your events need to be squeezed into the lead-up to Christmas. Make full use of the 12 days of Christmas by scheduling some events for after the big day.

4

Culinary pressures

Solution: Does the thought of preparing a roast dinner with all the trimmings leave you in a cold sweat? You are certainly not alone. The pressure of entertaining over the festive season can be a stressful thing for many; however don’t let meal preparations take the shine off Christmas day. If you have guests coming over for Christmas dinner, you could suggest everyone pitches in by preparing and bringing a different part of the meal.

Alternatively, try delegating tasks in the kitchen and getting your family to help out. Also, don’t be afraid to cheat a little and get your stuffing or Yorkshire puddings ready made or your vegetables ready chopped. So what if you’re not the world’s best chef? No one will ever know (or care).

5

Not enough time

Solution: Not only do most of us have many social obligations over the festive period, the Christmas season is also awash with time-consuming tasks such as buying Christmas presents, wrapping gifts, decorating our homes and cooking Christmas treats. To free up some time over this busy period, try to make the best use of hours you would normally spend procrastinating, using your lunch hours effectively and multi-tasking while watching TV.

Buying food and gifts online will also cut down on time, while short bursts of present wrapping – rather than a full-on gift-wrapping session – will help to make the task seem more manageable over this busy period.

6

Choosing the perfect gift

Solution: According to a British survey by the Post Office, trying to find the perfect presents for our loved ones is the biggest source of Christmas stress. To help choose the perfect gift, start early by listening out for hints as to things your family and friends are interested in, which may inspire present ideas. Thinking about gifts related to the five senses (sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell) is also a good way to get inspiration for presents, as is considering the different aspects of your recipient’s lifestyle.

The most important thing is not to leave it until the last minute and to spend enough time thinking about what your recipient may like. As they say, it’s the thought that counts, so make sure enough thought goes into your gifts this year.

Healthier Christmas Dinners

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Turkey, fish and other meat

  • If you’re having poultry as your main course, then stick to the white breast meat, which contains less fat than the browner meat. Flavour it with herbs and lemon juice and cut down on salt when you season it.
  • Choose turkey over more fatty birds such as goose or duck.
  • Tempting as it might be, avoid eating bits of crispy turkey skin, as the skin is the fattiest part of any bird.
  • Try having a fish-based starter. The protein in the fish will help fill you up so that you are less likely to overindulge on other courses. White fish is low in fat, while oily fish is packed with omega-3 oils – which are anti-inflammatory and will help to keep your heart healthy.
  • Avoid chipolatas wrapped in bacon. As well as saturated fat, these contain a lot of salt.

Vegetables

  • Load up half your plate with veg, so that this makes up a good proportion of your meal.
  • Try honeyed carrots, braised red cabbage and traditional brussels sprouts to increase fibre. Remember: the more colourful your plate, the more varied your range of health-giving nutrients will be.
  • Opt for boiled instead of roast potatoes.

Pudding and cheeses

  • Use skimmed milk to make custard as an accompaniment to your pudding, rather than using cream, ice cream or brandy butter. This will provide you with calcium while avoiding the extra fat found in the heavier options.
  • Try a fruit platter for dessert in place of a pudding in order to cleanse your palate and provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • A boozy fruit compote with half-fat crème fraiche would make a healthy yet decadent sweet. Try plums, berries, apples and sultanas stewed in red wine, vanilla and a little bit of sugar.
  • Pile up your cheese-board with strong-tasting cheese, as you will be satisfied with smaller amounts. Eat the cheese with crumbly oatcakes, celery and grapes for a dose of soluble fibre (which helps to reduce cholesterol), B vitamins and antioxidant flavonoid compounds (which help to keep the heart healthy).

Snacks

  • If you’re tempted to nibble while waiting for dinner to cook, try crunchy vegetable crudités such as cucumber, pepper and carrot, along with a yogurt, garlic and mint dip; hummus; or fresh tomato salsa with onion, garlic, a pinch of salt and some coriander.
  • Make the most of the festive season’s satsumas (for vitamin C) and nuts (for healthy oils), and steer clear of the cheap milk chocolates that abound!
  • If you simply have to have chocolate, opt for the dark variety, which has a higher proportion of flavonoids than milk.

Drinks

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquid throughout the day. This will stop you mistaking thirst for hunger, as well as dilute your alcohol intake.
  • Avoid alcohol before eating. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will speed up its entry into your bloodstream, and also act as appetite stimulant which may encourage you to overeat.
  • Feel free to enjoy a guilt-free glass of red wine with your meal, as alcohol increases iron absorption.

And a final tip…

  • Go for a brisk walk when you get a chance. This will boost your metabolism in preparation for the next feast!

How To Have A Great Christmas And Not Gain Weight

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1

Don't ditch your gym habits entirely

First of all, try to keep in mind that Christmas itself lasts only a couple of days – there’s no need to ditch your gym regime for a whole week in the lead-up (or fall-out).

2

Try and stick to your usual eating habits in the run up

Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to gorge yourself on mince pies, nibbles and booze every night. In fact, the more you stick to your usual eating habits in the lead-up, the more special it will be to eat Christmassy foods on the day. Try not to snack mindlessly in the Christmas rush – make time for your meals and stay hydrated, so that you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.

3

Expend energy in festive preparations

As far as calorie burning is concerned, our ‘spend and save’ strategy begins a few days before Christmas, when you have the opportunity to expend more energy than usual on preparation chores like shopping, cooking and cleaning. Put as much effort as possible into these activities, such as parking the car at the far end of the car park at the superstore rather than opting for home delivery, kneading pastry by hand rather than shoving it in the blender, and polishing your own windows instead of getting the cleaner in.

4

Don't skip breakfast

And as for the big day itself? Don’t forgo breakfast, no matter how hectic your morning is. Starting the day with a meal boosts metabolic rate by 10 per cent, and reduces the risk of you overeating later on. But skip the fry up – have something light, such as a boiled egg and a slice of wholemeal toast, or fresh fruit and yogurt.

5

Exercise in the morning

If you’ve got time, exercising in the morning will gear up your metabolism for the rest of the day. In this scenario, intensity is more important than duration as the harder you work, the greater the ‘afterburn’ effect of continued higher calorie burning. A 20-minute brisk run or bike ride would be perfect. The frostier the better – research shows that we burn up to 12 per cent more calories working out in cold weather, as the body has to work harder to maintain its core temperature.

6

Time to put on your Christmas day outfit

Wear something that doesn’t have an elasticated or loose waistband; this will give you a benchmark of tightness. If it fits in the morning, you want it still to fit by the evening. It’s a harsh wake-up call when you need to undo that top button to fit in another helping of roast potatoes!

7

Dinner dilemmas

Choose carefully and Christmas dinner needn’t be a disaster area. For example, choosing the white turkey meat instead of the darker stuff can save you calories and fat grams. Remove the skin, too, or just restrict yourself to one tasty mouthful of crispy skin (well, it is Christmas, after all!).

8

Don’t feel obliged to eat more than you normally would

Turning down seconds doesn’t mean you didn’t enjoy your meal – it’s just that you have had enough. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with politely putting your hand over your glass when it still has wine left in it, so that you can keep track of how much you’ve had. If you get the choice, opt for filo pastry mince pies – less fattening than puff or shortcrust pastry and just as delicious. Also choose custard instead of brandy butter and cream.

9

Time for an aperitif?

A pub-sized serving of Baileys will set you back 100 calories (and let’s face it, who pours pub-sized servings at home?). Why not go for brandy, with 65 calories and no fat per measure?

10

Getting back on track

Once the big meal is over, busy yourself with clearing the table, washing up or entertaining the kids. Anything active is better than parking yourself on the sofa with a box of chocolates that you really haven’t got room to eat. The same goes for Boxing Day, which otherwise has the potential to be a repeat performance of the previous day’s excesses. Avoid the Boxing Day blowout by organising to do something active with the family – such as a walk or a game of rounders in the park. The you can enjoy your turkey sandwiches guilt free.

Healthier Christmas Dinners

An image of Healthier Christmas Dinners

Turkey, fish and other meat

  • If you’re having poultry as your main course, then stick to the white breast meat, which contains less fat than the browner meat. Flavour it with herbs and lemon juice and cut down on salt when you season it.
  • Choose turkey over more fatty birds such as goose or duck.
  • Tempting as it might be, avoid eating bits of crispy turkey skin, as the skin is the fattiest part of any bird.
  • Try having a fish-based starter. The protein in the fish will help fill you up so that you are less likely to overindulge on other courses. White fish is low in fat, while oily fish is packed with omega-3 oils – which are anti-inflammatory and will help to keep your heart healthy.
  • Avoid chipolatas wrapped in bacon. As well as saturated fat, these contain a lot of salt.

Vegetables

  • Load up half your plate with veg, so that this makes up a good proportion of your meal.
  • Try honeyed carrots, braised red cabbage and traditional brussels sprouts to increase fibre. Remember: the more colourful your plate, the more varied your range of health-giving nutrients will be.
  • Opt for boiled instead of roast potatoes.

Pudding and cheeses

  • Use skimmed milk to make custard as an accompaniment to your pudding, rather than using cream, ice cream or brandy butter. This will provide you with calcium while avoiding the extra fat found in the heavier options.
  • Try a fruit platter for dessert in place of a pudding in order to cleanse your palate and provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • A boozy fruit compote with half-fat crème fraiche would make a healthy yet decadent sweet. Try plums, berries, apples and sultanas stewed in red wine, vanilla and a little bit of sugar.
  • Pile up your cheese-board with strong-tasting cheese, as you will be satisfied with smaller amounts. Eat the cheese with crumbly oatcakes, celery and grapes for a dose of soluble fibre (which helps to reduce cholesterol), B vitamins and antioxidant flavonoid compounds (which help to keep the heart healthy).

Snacks

  • If you’re tempted to nibble while waiting for dinner to cook, try crunchy vegetable crudités such as cucumber, pepper and carrot, along with a yogurt, garlic and mint dip; hummus; or fresh tomato salsa with onion, garlic, a pinch of salt and some coriander.
  • Make the most of the festive season’s satsumas (for vitamin C) and nuts (for healthy oils), and steer clear of the cheap milk chocolates that abound!
  • If you simply have to have chocolate, opt for the dark variety, which has a higher proportion of flavonoids than milk.

Drinks

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquid throughout the day. This will stop you mistaking thirst for hunger, as well as dilute your alcohol intake.
  • Avoid alcohol before eating. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will speed up its entry into your bloodstream, and also act as appetite stimulant which may encourage you to overeat.
  • Feel free to enjoy a guilt-free glass of red wine with your meal, as alcohol increases iron absorption.

And a final tip…

  • Go for a brisk walk when you get a chance. This will boost your metabolism in preparation for the next feast!

10 Unusual New Year's Resolutions

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1

Get your photo taken in five interesting places

If you’ve got the travel bug and want to see a bit more of the world, why not make it a New Year’s resolution to visit five interesting places you’ve always wanted to see? Even better, make a visual record of the year by making sure you get a photo of yourself taken in each place. Good photo opportunities include inside an igloo in Lapland, on the Great Wall of China, inside a volcanic crater or floating in the Dead Sea, but use your imagination to think of your own – the world’s your oyster after all.

2

Learn a decent party trick

You know that party trick you’ve got, the one that always comes out after a couple of drinks? Think about it; is it really so impressive in the cold light of day? If the answer is no, it’s about time you learned a new trick; one that will really impress. Mastering a new skill – no matter how pointless – can increase your self-esteem, as well as earning you some serious social kudos next time you reveal it in public. For a physical challenge, why not work on your flexibility for a spot of contortion, or give yourself a mental challenge and learn how to recite the alphabet backwards in less than 10 seconds.

3

Break a record

Want to give your confidence a boost and work towards a new challenge? Then make this the year that you break a record! You could aim at breaking a personal fitness record or, if you want to aim a little higher, set your sights on a world one. With lots of diverse (and bizarre) records there for the taking, this may not be as difficult as you think. Perhaps you could burn off some calories with the world’s longest kiss, the longest time spent bouncing on a bouncy castle or the fastest one mile run completed wearing swim fins… Yes, these are all real world record titles if you fancy your chances!

4

Make a new friend a month

Fact: friends are great for your health, and the more you have of them the better. So, why not make it a New Year’s resolution to start collecting them? To expand your social circle, try to make one new friend a month by making a conscious effort to attend more social events, chat to strangers and get introductions to friends of friends. Making friends with people with different personalities and interests from you can be particularly beneficial in helping you to broaden your horizons, explore different sides of your personality and find new ways to get the most out of life.

5

Develop a good relationship with your body

Many traditional New Year’s resolutions centre around improving our bodies in some way, whether by taking up a diet or joining a gym. Next year, make it your resolution to start to love the body you’ve got instead. While this doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to your diet and fitness regime if your health requires it, it does mean starting to love who you are in the process. Work on improving your body confidence by focusing on the things you do like rather than those you don’t, and learn to dress according to your body shape, showing off your favourite features.

6

Learn something you never learned as a child

You may run your own company, pay your own bills and parallel-park like a pro, but do you know how to do a handstand or ride a bike? For this New Year’s resolution it’s time to nurture your inner child and learn that thing that you never learned to do. Whether it’s the number of days in each month, how to spell ‘necessary’ correctly, how to ride a bike or swim, we all have something we never learned as a child that everyone else seems to know. Set this to rights and have some fun at the same time by redressing this gap in your knowledge. Your younger self would be proud!

7

Try a new food each week

Rather than cutting out foods from your diet as with so many New Year’s resolutions, opt to add more foods into your diet next year instead (bonus points if they’re green!). Many of us don’t eat a varied enough diet, so ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs – as well as enhancing your enjoyment of food – by making a resolution to try a new food each week. Try hitting the fruit and veg aisle first to sample some exotic fruit and vegetables you may have yet to try, such as dragon fruit, lychees, romanescu and plantain.

8

Make the usual unusual

It’s easy to get into a rut where we do the same things day in, day out, with our days passing us by as a routine-filled blur. Next year, spice up your routine by vowing to do one small thing differently each day or week. Wear something you wouldn’t normally wear, run a different route, or order a different coffee perhaps. Also, don’t fall into the trap of postponing your happiness by saving everything special “for best”. Instead, brighten up a routine day every so often by donning your diamond earrings, swapping faded comfy knickers for your favourite silk underwear, or eating those fancy chocolates washed down with a glass of champagne!

9

Sort out a financial worry

To help get your year off to a good start, try getting your finances in order by making a resolution to sort out one area of financial worry. Perhaps you spend a fortune on petrol or maybe it is your food bills that are blowing your budget? Try to think of some alternatives to the main causes of financial stress, such as cycling to work instead of driving, growing your own vegetables or making your own beauty products. Not only will coming up with alternative solutions help you save some money, you may find that you enjoy them and that they boost your health too.

10

Do something nice for others every day

Many of our resolutions (these included) are inwardly focused, concentrating on ways to become thinner, healthier, wealthier people. However, while there is nothing wrong with improving yourself, it’s worth remembering there’s a whole world out there too. Next year, why not make a resolution to focus outwards instead and help make the world a better place. Plan to do one nice thing a day for someone else; whether it’s something small like giving a compliment, or something potentially life-saving like donating blood or sponsoring a child in need. By knowing you are making a difference, you will also indirectly boost your own happiness and sense of achievement.

10 Unusual Ways To Burn Christmas Calories

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1

Deck the halls

You may not think decorating your house for Christmas is a particularly strenuous task, but boy does it burn those calories! Hoisting yourself into the attic and carrying heavy boxes full of baubles and ornaments definitely plays its part in the Christmas calorie burn off. Not to mention lugging the tree into your home from the car! Shifting boxes in this way for about an hour can burn around 350 calories. That’s the equivalent to burning off a mince pie with some cream.

2

Shop ‘til you drop

Facing the crowds and carrying all those bags of gifts sure does get your heart rate up. Pushing a shopping trolley up the aisles for around half an hour will burn over 100 calories and this number will surely increase at Christmas time, since you buy so much! Make sure you pack your own shopping at the checkout and take your goods to the car, remembering to take your trolley back, all to boost your calorie burn further. Lugging heavy shopping bags around the high street will also burn the calories too – so there’s even more reason to be generous this year and buy more gifts!

3

Clean up act

Cleaning up after all those parties or before your guests arrive will definitely burn some calories this Christmas. Changing bed sheets, tidying away and sweeping up all that Christmas glitter will all get your heart rate up, so get cleaning! Dusting for half an hour burns around 80 calories while mopping for 15 minute burns around 70 calories. Vacuuming for 30 minutes will account for around 120 calories, which equates to a 175ml (6.15 imp fl. oz) glass of red wine, while the same time spent ironing will burn around 75 calories –about the equivalent of a mini quiche.

4

Fresh air

After that rather hefty lunch of roast turkey and all the trimmings you may fancy a brisk walk to make room for the Christmas pudding. A one hour walk after lunch will burn around 280 calories (walking at the average pace of 3mph) which equates to 100g (3.52oz) of Camembert cheese. If you have a dog you can burn further calories by throwing a toy or stick, or running around with the kids will be sure to burn even more.

5

Ice skating

Not to mention being a super fun festive activity, ice skating is also great for Christmas calorie burn off. Whether inside or outside, you will burn around 165 calories for every half hour you’re on the rink. That’s approximately four roast potatoes from your Christmas lunch gone! Keeping yourself upright and using your core muscles for balance will also tone you up nicely – a fun workout without you knowing!

6

Cooking up a treat

With so much food to prepare and so many mouths to feed at Christmas you will be pleased to hear that half an hour on your feet preparing a meal will burn approximately 70 calories, and if you are going back and forth to set the table this will add more calories to your burn count.

The actual act of eating your meal will account for around 50 calories, and then you’ve got the washing up to do which will burn about 40 calories for every 15 minutes you are scrubbing, drying and putting away. Scrub harder for maximum benefit (and for extra brownie points from Santa).

7

Kissing under the mistletoe

Calorie burning doesn’t have to be hard work and luckily the Christmas perk of kissing under the mistletoe burns calories too! Half an hour of kissing could help you burn in excess of 30 calories. So for each cheeky mistletoe moment this year you could burn the equivalent to one chocolate coin – so pucker up!

8

Rock around the Christmas tree

All those party invites not only make you the popular one, but also a calorie burning machine! You can burn around 195 calories if you dance for half an hour on the dance floor. But if you keep going all night then you could end up burning the equivalent to a festive helping of cheese, crackers and wine!

9

Wrap it up

Wrapping gifts at Christmas is an essential, but it can be a lot more productive than you think. Wrapping presents for one hour can burn 120 calories. That’s a glass of champagne to celebrate! If you choose to wrap all of your gifts in one sitting then you will burn more calories than you’d expect, so get organised and set some time aside to wrap them all in one go.

10

Waiting for Santa

You’re going to be pretty worn-out after all that decorating, shopping and partying, but even when you finally get some shut eye on Christmas Eve you are still burning calories. Yes, an average night’s sleep of around eight hours can account for over 400 calories. That’s the equivalent of a glass of eggnog with rum. That’s more than enough reason to help you get to sleep before Father Christmas arrives! Find out more about burning calories while you sleep.

(Note: Calorie counts are based on an average female of around 65kg (143 lbs). What you burn depends on your height, weight, and how vigorously you carry out the tasks.)

Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Diet This Year

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We all have a vague concept of what constitutes healthy eating, but we may not have a good idea of how to do it in practice. To help you out, here are our top 10 tips on how you can simply and effectively change your diet for the better.

1

Eat more fruit and veg

You may have heard it a thousand times before, but eating more portions of fruit and veg a day really is the most valuable dietary habit you can develop. Fruits and vegetables contain a vast range of health-giving vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – including carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, folate and zinc. Remember that the wider the variety of fruit and veg you eat, the wider the range of nutrients you will get. You should aim for as colourful a plate as possible – so think broccoli, bananas, green apples, or pumpkin. And you don’t have to eat these ‘straight’. Instead, try them in soups, sauces, salads, smoothies and desserts, or with dips.

2

Reduce your saturated fat intake

Saturated fats have been widely implicated in the development of heart disease because they increase levels of harmful cholesterol in the body while simultaneously reducing beneficial cholesterol. Saturated fats are predominantly animal fats. You can cut down on your intake of these by buying lean cuts of meat, trimming visible fat, and avoiding high-fat dairy products. Alternatively, avoid reliance on meat as the main constituent of your meals, and instead try pulses or other sources of vegetable protein.

3

Reduce your trans-fat intake

Trans-fats are chemically altered fats that are now thought to be as harmful to health – if not more so – than saturated fats. Fast food companies and mass food producers tend to use these – so if you avoid fast food and processed or pre-packaged foods such as cakes and cookies, you should go a long way to cutting these out. Trans-fats do not exist naturally.

4

Increase your unsaturated fat intake

Unsaturated fats reduce the levels of harmful cholesterol in the bloodstream. In fact, some even increase the amounts of protective cholesterol as well. You can find unsaturated fats in nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.

5

Increase your omega-3 oil intake

Omega-3 oils are powerful anti-inflammatory agents which can help to protect the heart, lubricate the joints, and may even help to maintain good mental health. These can be found in seed oils (such as linseed) and oily fish (such as herring, mackerel and sardines). Those found in oily fish are more ‘bioavailable’ than those found in plant sources (that is, they are more available to use by the body). Aim to have two portions per week of food containing omega-3 oils.

6

Increase your fluid intake

Aim to drink around eight glasses of fluid per day. Water is vital for good health; after all, 60 per cent of body weight is attributed to water. Water is required for the majority of metabolic reactions in the body. Dehydration can cause fatigue and poor concentration, and can even affect your physical appearance. Reach your hydration target by re-filling a water bottle several times throughout the day, drinking herbal tea, and/or eating juicy fruits such as melon.

7

Eat breakfast every day

Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast tend to be slimmer than those who don’t. There is a huge variety of foods you can start your morning with: toast, porridge, cereals, fruit, eggs, fruit juice, black/green/herbal tea, pancakes, berries, tomatoes, rice cakes, peanut butter, the list goes on! Try to base your breakfast on starches, throw in some fruit, and avoid having a fried, sugary, or meat-heavy breakfast too often.

8

Go wholegrain

People with healthier hearts tend to eat more whole grains.

Whether this is a reflection of a healthy lifestyle as a whole or whether it’s due in particular to whole grain properties is uncertain – but whole grains do contain more nutrients than refined grains due to the inclusion of bran and germ. Whole Grains include insoluble and soluble fiber, phytonutrients, B vitamins and vitamin E.

9

Watch your salt intake

An excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn can cause further health complications such as blood clots. Most salt is not found in cooking or even at the table; instead, it is hidden in snacks and processed foods such as canned soups and ready meals. Cut down on your intake of these to lower your salt intake.

10

Increase your intake of fibre

Your fibre intake will naturally increase when you start eating more fruit, veg and whole grains, but if you add pulses and legumes as well you are sure to hit the ideal target of 18g of fiber per day. Fibre will help to protect against bowel cancer, diverticulosis and constipation. Just make sure you drink plenty of fluid alongside to keep things moving.

Getting a balanced diet

To improve your diet, what you should aim for is a varied, balanced food intake that is packed full of fruit and veg, is based on whole grains, and incorporates high-quality protein such as lean meat or legumes. Also, ‘good’ fats should be used in place of ‘bad’ fats, and sugary and salty snacks should be kept to a minimum. So, now you know what healthy eating really means after reading our top 10 tips, why not make the year ahead the year you put it into practice?

Top 10 Ways To Escape The Christmas Mayhem

An image of Top 10 Ways To Escape The Christmas Mayhem

1

Get away for Christmas

We’re not talking about running out on everyone; instead, you could consider getting away with your nearest and dearest and let someone else take the strain of organising your Christmas. Going on a short break can help you to avoid constant demands on your time from other people – and if you let someone else (a hotel or restaurant for example) be responsible for feeding you all, then that will take a large part of the headache away, leaving you free to enjoy yourself!

2

Go ice skating

Why not plan a spot of ice skating? Depending on your location, this could be on either a natural or artificial surface, and indoor or outdoor. Ice skating can be a great way to savor the festive atmosphere, as it will usually be surrounded by festive lights and scenery at this time of year – plus it will ensure that everyone gets some good exercise and will be nicely tired out by the time you all get back home. It will also help you to burn off those excess calories from all the mince pies and Christmas cake!

3

Walking

Outdoor walks during the festive season are a great opportunity to get out there either on your own or with your family. While many other people are sitting around and watching yet another festive TV offering, you could take the bold step of getting out and about. Simply pack a few turkey sandwiches for lunch, wrap up warm, and away you go! If you have them, take your kids with you as well, as they’ll enjoy it and it will give them the chance to burn off some of their energy.

4

Indoor ice climbing

It may or may not be icy outside, but you can enjoy ice climbing due to an increasing number of indoor ice-climbing walls. Ice climbing indoors is done in a huge room cooled by freezers, which cause sheets of ice to form on the walls. It’s all relatively safe as you will be safely roped to the top of your climbing wall. You will then be free to lodge your ice axes into the wall and make your way up. Indoor ice climbing is great for beginners and also climbers who wish to brush up on their skills. Check out our other ideas for indoor activities.

5

See the Christmas lights

Why not take a walk or drive around the local area and check out the Christmas light displays? Some of your neighbors probably put on some fantastic displays, but because they happen to live just slightly off your normal route it may mean you don’t usually see them. Take along a warming flask of drinks (or even your favourite tipple) to enjoy as you check out all the homes and shops with different decorations in your neighborhood.

6

Plan a seasonal outing

The festive season is a great chance to get out and attend a pantomime, free concert or other activity put on at a local theater, community center, library or shopping center. A seasonal outing is an opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy a change of scenery – so why not plan an outing and let someone else do the entertaining as you take a back seat and relax?

7

Take in a spa

With the excesses of the Christmas period taking their toll on you both mentally and physically, it makes sense to take some time out and give your body a chance to recover. So, take yourself along to a spa for the day and enjoy a sauna, steam, massage and all the other spa and beauty treatments on offer. As well as making you more relaxed, this will also have you looking and feeling your best for all those parties you may have to see your way through during the festive period.

8

Take in some sporting action

The festive season is traditionally the time of the year when lots of sports have plenty of fixtures crammed into a relatively short period of time – so it’s a good opportunity to get out and take in some of the action. Why not go along to see some Boxing Day football, rugby, or even cricket (depending on your location)? Going out to voice your support for your own particular team is a great way to get out and let off some steam.

9

Go golfing at Christmas

The golf course is one of the few places where you can escape for some peace and quiet, as there’s no way your family will want to be trailing around with you in the cold for a full 18 holes of golf! Just grab your golf bag, put on something warm and waterproof, and head out for some great hitting fun – all in tranquil surroundings. If the weather should prove to be a touch too severe, however, then you could always go off and hit some balls under cover at the driving range instead.

10

Running at Christmas

Just because it’s Christmas it doesn’t mean you have to neglect your running training if you’re doing any. In fact, Christmas is probably the time when your calorie intake is at its greatest – so it pays to burn it off! Believe it or not, there are still running events held over the festive period – and a Boxing Day run or even a New Year midnight run are real possibilities, provided you can haul yourself up after everything you’ve eaten!

Enjoy yourself…

At Christmas, instead of just sitting there feeling the tension building, try to put your energy into creating opportunities which allow you to escape the usual mayhem. By doing some of the activities we’ve suggested here, you should be well on your way to enjoying your festive season more!