How much over-indulging have you got planned for Christmas this year? Even if last year’s festivities provided a massive ‘never again’ moment, the same temptations will be there this year and lead to the same guilt-laden New Year health kick.

So, why not get your health kick going before the party season gets into full swing?

Why you should start your health kick now

Christmas is famously known as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but it’s also one of the most stressful, especially for women – an Ipsos MORI poll reveals that over a quarter (27%) of women feel stressed about Christmas preparations, compared to just over one-in-ten (14%) men.

Getting all your Christmas preparation done early is an obvious way to cut your festive stress levels, but getting all the presents and food in before the real rush begins is easier said than done, not least because of the cost involved.

So it could be time to turn to physical activity – exercise produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and stress relief, and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.

If you get into a regular exercising routine now, this can help you switch off from the work and social stresses of Christmas, and help to dramatically cut your stress levels.

If you’re planning on leaving your health until the New Year, you’re basically giving yourself a free pass to overindulge in December, but being in an active routine when the party season starts should help give you the extra will power to turn down that extra mince pie, or and cut down you alcohol intake (at least swapping that glass of wine for a slim line G&T).

So, with that in mind, here’s how to start your New Year health kick before Christmas…

Top tips to get your New Year health kick started early

If you want to help cut your Christmas stress levels, as well as feel good and look fabulous for the Christmas party season, check out our top tips…

Find your motivation

Motivation is arguably the toughest part of any exercise regime, but nailing down your motivation from the start will help keep you going when physical activity is the last thing you want to do. Your motivation could be anything, from better mental health, to a better feeling of physical well-being or a better body image – it’s your motivation, so use whatever keeps you going.

If you struggle with motivation, it could be time to turn to tech to help you along – a fitness tracker is a great way to keep tabs on your basic daily activities and the effectiveness of your workouts. If you’re on a budget, you can pick up a Lintelek Fitness Tracker for just £25 on Amazon, or if you want to go all-in, the Fitbit Charge 3 Advanced Health & Fitness Tracker is available for £129.99 and can track calorie burn, optimise workouts and uncover health trends that inspire you to make moves on your health and fitness goals.

Don’t make excuses

The easiest way to fall out the habit is to make an excuse why you can’t exercise on a particular day – and days soon turn into weeks, and before you know it, it’s New Year and you feel terrible again.  So, try to avoid these common excuses…

  • I can’t get to the gym – Exercise at home instead. There are loads of apps available that offer exercises you can do at home with no specialist equipment, or you could even bring exercise equipment into the home. An exercise bike offers an ideal cardiovascular workout, and you can pick one up for less than the price of a few months’ gym membership. The LIFE CARVER BTM Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike can be picked up on Amazon for £135, or the Sportstech TEST WINNER* Exercise Bike ESX500, which comes with smartphone app control and Google Street View, can be ordered for £249. If money is no object, the JTX Cyclo-5: Upright Gym Exercise Bike is a feature-Packed Bike with Advanced BLUETOOTH Computer and FREE Polar Heart Rate Chest Strap. Buy it on Amazon for £650. Check out a full range of exercise bikes in our buyers guide to the best exercise bikes.

Set realistic goals

Goal-setting is vitally important to starting and sticking to an exercise regime, but they have to be realistic – setting unrealistic targets will quickly de-motivate you. Make them SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – and aim to do at least three, 45 minute workouts each week. This consistency will generate results quicker than doing a week of seven days straight in the gym then having a week off, and bear in mind that the effectiveness of an exercise session begins to diminish after an hour – so unless you’re going for all-out cardio fitness, it’s best to keep each one less than an hour.

Stay hydrated

Water is vital to keeping yourself in tip-top condition, and staying hydrated is necessary for basic metabolic functions. And if you’re going to be partying hard, staying hydrated is essential to help avoid horrific headaches and hangovers the morning after.

Cut back on alcohol

You may find it difficult, but it’s definitely worth cutting back on the alcohol over Christmas. Non-alcoholic beers pack fewer calories than alcoholic beer, and can help reduce your calorie intake as part of a healthy diet. Not only that, but over-consumption of alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to light-headedness and make you tempted by high-calorie, fatty food after drinking. Drinking low-alcohol or ‘alcohol-free’ beer means you’re less likely to have a hangover, so you’ll be more motivated to exercise the day after.

Keep eating

Your body needs fuel to function, so make sure you eat regularly – this doesn’t mean filling your face with Christmas pudding, crisps, cheese and crackers at every opportunity, so make sure you keep yourself refuelled with the right stuff, including plenty of fruit, veg, fish, eggs, white meat and any other sources of protein.

Be patient

No matter when you start your health kick, you won’t see the benefits overnight, so bear in mind you’ll have to be patient, stick with it, and the results will follow. And getting started now instead of after Christmas means you’ll have a good head start.

Black Friday is on the way, so now could be a good time to get yourself some fitness equipment in – check out What to buy on Black Friday to see what other discounts you could bag yourself.

And if you want to get a head start on the kids Christmas presents, the Top 5 Toys for Christmas 2018.