With canapés, chocolates, mince pies and free-flowing drink, how to stay in shape over the festive period becomes a tough challenge.

And with the festive season is not all about one or two days. It spans a minimum of two weeks. That means all that hard work in the gym, or those hour spent clocking up running miles, can quickly be eroded. This is when we seek ways to help us stay in shape over the festive period.

But with a little thought and planning it is possible to enjoy the festivities, sample the goodies and still maintain the fitness levels you have been working so hard to achieve all year. Here’s how.

RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU

Making time for fitness

Time is always a big challenge, no matter what time of the year it is. Work and family commitments, social events, there is always something to get in the way of fitness.

The festive season offers you plenty of opportunity and that extra time spent in the gym or running will help you stay in shape over the festive period.

Instead of having a lie-in on your first day of holiday, get your running shoes on and go for a long run or a bike ride. This will help you unwind from the hectic last few days in the office as well as prepare for the onslaught of festivities that lie ahead.

And how about an hour of sport on Christmas day itself. You can suggest that the whole family goes for a game of football or frisbee in the local park.

It is amazing how into it everyone will get, and you will certainly burn some calories in the process. You could even challenge friends to meet up and make it a mammoth hour or so of sporting activity. You will all have a real fun time and it will help you all stay in shape over the festive period.

Sneak in a work out

If the gym is your thing, then find a time when everyone else is busy and not going to miss you for an hour or so. This might coincide with your partner/wife/husband taking the kids to the cinema, or meeting friends for a catch-up.

Rather than watching the Christmas films on television get yourself to the gym.

Normally it will be fairly quiet so you will be able to hog the machines and experiment with that new weights programme without interruption.

If running or the gym is not the thing for you, then try your hand at some functional fitness. Clear debris from the garden, dig the soil in readiness for next year’s sowing. Why not use the festive holidays as an opportunity to get outside and do some manual work.

In the house, there are all sorts of tasks that will keep you moving and toned. After weeks of sedentary sitting in an office chair, it is amazing how good you will feel after lifting, bending, stretching and simply moving, as you do household and garden chores.

Keeping active is so important to your bid to stay in shape over the festive period, but it is also important that you take control over what you eat and drink. There are three simple things you can do that will make a difference.

Drink lots of water

Tips for holiday eating 2

No-one is saying cut out alcohol, but it is important that you stay hydrated. Make sure that throughout the festive period you drink plenty of water.

This is particularly true on a night out, if you intersperse an alcoholic drink with a glass of water, you will feel a lot better in the morning.You will also be less inclined to snack as water will make you feel full quicker.

A balanced way to stay in shape over the festive period

If you are going out for a meal, eating with friends or going to a party where there will be a lot of canapés to nibble on, then balance your diet for the rest of the day.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, so that you still have calories to play with when you gorge yourself later. There is no point trying to deny yourself, just keep it balanced.

Compromise, don’t cut out

In order to stay in shape over the festive period, you need to choose healthy options when possible. Steamed vegetables are lower calorie and better for you than roasted vegetables. Hummus and carrots are healthier snacks than peanuts, raw nuts are less calorific than roasted ones.

The festive season is a great time to party and let your hair down, but with a little thought you will be able to stay in shape over the festive period.

WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.

Expert:

Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!

Expert:

Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans