Jesus Christ do I love mulled wine. It's Christmas time folks. Although this year I saw trees appearing in shop windows before Halloween , so it seems Christmas time is an increasingly elastic concept. But Starbucks have their Christmas cups and I've taken to wearing two jackets when venturing from the gym to the steak house so that's good enough for me.
Shall we do the don't-get-fat-at-Christmas blog post now then? Well, it is actually December so I have more legitimacy than the aforementioned premature shop-window tree erectors. So yes, let's.
You've got work parties, you've got Christmas dinners - enjoy them. Winter is classically the "bulking" (read - "getting a bit fat") season anyway, so eat your carbs as long as you're still getting your weight training done .
For the men it's the season to achieve JBS (jacked but shirted) status. It's not hard to look like you train while wearing a t-shirt so tight it appears tattooed on. The extra layers necessitated by the chillier months however, require an extra degree of jackedness . If you wish to both wear a shirt and showcase your Apollonian physique, you need to focus on developing your traps and deltoids for a while.
For the female trainee, averse to the scourge of the wine belly but unwilling to self-impose teetotalism, there's always the traditional January detox. Silly and unscientific, sure. But I feel the fact that "cleansing rituals" appear throughout history in many different cultures is telling, and makes me less willing to dismiss the practise as totally worthless. Of course the scientific veneer it's been lent in recent years is complete bullshit. But I think the psychology of the "ritual" aspect of detox is interesting. It has an undeniable and tenacious appeal, a feeling of wiping the slate clean which we find intoxicating and inspiring. Plus I've always argued that the real benefit of the detox approach is it re-sets what we call "moderation" so that the "normal" diet we return to is in fact healthier than the "normal" which preceded it.
I've said this before - work , training and a social life are like dials on a stereo. They can each be turned up or down, but if you turn one off completely the whole thing sounds like crap. So if you're turning your social life up to eleven this December, maybe dial it back a bit in January.
Still, all is not lost. Your health is not the Titanic and the festive social calendar is not an iceberg. Every day from now until Jesus's birthday bash provides the opportunity to do something new to boost your health , happiness and sexiness. Here is a suggested 25, an Aegis advent calendar of self-betterment.
1- Spend 5 minutes a day meditating. You can do it before bed or when you wake up in the morning. It's easily implemented and the benefits are enormous.
2- Start flossing. Not only is it good for your teeth, it reduces general inflammation protecting you from many illnesses.
3- Make a conscious effort to eat more vegetables. Half your plate should be green.
4- Keep a litre of water by your bed. Drink it when you wake up.
5- Do this stretch every day-
6- Recognise that your desk wants to ruin your posture. Don't give it the satisfaction. Stand up and move around every twenty minutes.
7- Giving makes you happy. This isn't wooly, new age bullshit, it's true. Christmas is as good a time as any to find a charity that you feel is worthwhile and set up a direct debit.
8- Building on the last point, money isn't all you have to give. Your time is valuable too. Make an extra effort to visit/get in touch with someone you haven't seen in a while. Consider volunteering some time to a charity.
9- Make your own mulled wine like a boss.
10- Read The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman
11- Broaden your musical horizons . Get some Haim in your life.
12- Decide to drink a better standard of coffee. Our gym happens to be next door to the dynamic duo of coffee , Dunne and Frankowski who this week celebrate a year of bringing a truly obsessive degree of coffee service to East London. Pay them a visit and say I sent you.
13- Spend a bit more money on red meat and eat it a bit less frequently. Conversely, if you're totally avoiding red meat, get down to borough market and get some grass fed beef, it's a health food.
14- Restore your faith in Hollywood if not humanity, go check out Silver Linings Playbook. It looks like a total chick flick but I gave it a shot based on Brett Easton Ellis's constant Tweeting . I left with a warm fuzzy feeling that was at least not entirely due to Jennifer Lawrence's mindboggling hotness. It's a great movie.
15- Phone your mum/dad/siblings more.
16- Buy a vitamin D supplement . It's a no brainer.
17- Gizoogle yourself. Laughter is medicinal.
18- Rather than thinking about resolutions for next year, making plans and thinking about what you wish you'd done, take a moment to reflect on what you actually have achieved this year. It could relate to health, work , romance, family, hobbies, whatever. Chances are you've done more than you think and don't give yourself enough credit for it.
19- Spend a bit more on better wine and drink a bit less of it. Take your time and enjoy it.
20- Take a walk. It's free, and one of the best methods to reduce stress and come up with new ideas, plus even in the cold London is pretty.
21- try making yourself a fully vegetarian meal once or twice a week. More veg plus broadening your palate equals good. And no I'm not turning veggie. The day that story runs in the paper, the front page lead will be a picture of hell looking like Antarctica.
22- experiment with intermittent fasting, see if you get on with it. 16-20 hours once or twice a week is a good start.
23- Every time you come across a new word, put it in a word document (I just use the notes app on my phone) and commit to learning it.
24- If you're due to go to the gym but really, really aren't feeling it, do this- go , get into your gear and just do your warm up. If by the end of warming up you feel like doing more, go for it (you probably will).
25- Offer to help a friend or co-worker out with their exercise goals in January. Chances are they're intimidated and totally in the dark. Be cool and offer to show them the ropes. Or at the very least direct them to this blog.
Happy Christmas folks.