The Christmas-New Year break traditionally is a time when many women consume too many calories. The combination of Christmas fare, sugary desserts and alcoholic beverages, spells frustration for any woman looking to maintain her fitness or control her weight.

The worst thing you can do at this time is attempt to lose weight. Weight loss is difficult at the best of times, and quite simply impossible at this time of the year with the myriad of end-of-year work/school/social gatherings.

So the best thing you can do is to stay physically active for much of the day and take some simple steps to keep the food and drink portions under control.

Researchers in Sweden have now quantified how staying active throughout the day can actually keep you healthier for longer.

The Swedish team found that vigorous physical activity produced significant benefits in terms of a smaller waist line and production of more ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL). Significantly, researchers found that the key health factors that lead to metabolic syndrome were lower with very active individuals compared to sedentary individuals.

Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-092038

The easiest way to control your weight over the holiday season is to make physical activities a natural part your day - activities that are enjoyable and not necessarily structured exercise.

For example, you may like to try your hand at abseiling, para-gliding, sailing, indoor rock climbing, ten pin bowling, mini golf, visiting theme parks, or trekking through your nearest national park.

Other obvious examples are long brisk walks on the beach, horse riding, beach volleyball or beach cricket, a tennis game with friends, go-karting with the family, water skiing or canoeing – to name a few.

But if the weather is too inclement for outdoor adventures, and you are nowhere near a gym but you still wish to be active then look no further.

Try this Holiday Calorie Busting Program to help you stay on top of your weight.

  • The workout gives you a 20 minute metabolic boost.
  • You don’t need any gym equipment.
  • Try doing at least 2 sets for each exercise.
  1. Push Ups
    2 sets x 15
    Develops strength in the chest, arms, abdominals. Promotes better posture.For correct instruction to perform the push up go here.
  2. Plank with Leg Rotation
    2 sets x 10 each side
    Challenges the body from an isometric stance through to a more dynamic rotational pattern that is actually very functional.In essence, the exercise develops strength through the abdominals, shoulders, arms, chest and back, thighs and hips. Master this exercise and you will soon be burning many calories. For correct instruction click here.
  3. Squats
    2 sets x 20
    See my article on correct technique for the squat.The squat is the number one strengthening exercise for the hips, legs, buttocks, lower back and abdominals.
  4. Fast Step ups
    2 sets x 1-2 minutes
    Find some stairs and go up and down on the lowest step, as fast as you can for 1-2 minutes.A very effective cardio boost and calorie burn.
  5. Double Crunches
    2 sets x 20
    The double crunch develops strength through the entire anterior abdominal musculature (the upper and lower abs).
    Contraindications: This exercise is not suitable for women with pelvic floor dysfunction, or who have diastasis recti (displaying a separation of the upper abdominals)
  6. Side Plank with Front Arm Raises
    2 sets x 5-12 each side
    This exercise develops strength in the oblique abdominals (outer abs), hips, glutes and shoulders.

Fiona Compston is a freelance aerobics instructor, a certified Personal Trainer, Counsellor and Remedial Massage Therapist. She is also a certified Menofitness trainer, specializing in menopause hormone enhancement for women aged 40+ and pelvic floor strengthening.
She specialises in fitness for women aged 45+, and has also trained Miss World New Zealand, Elite kiwi cyclists, rowers and hockey players.
You can also find Fiona on Facebook.