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02nd Jan 2017

The 12-step guide to getting your fitness back on track after 12 days of Christmas

New Year, new you?

Mikey Stafford

We all know the feeling.

There is nothing but coffee sweets left in the Quality Street, you have seen Home Alone, Die Hard and Elf multiple times and the thought of another turkey and ham sandwich is making you feel ill.

When not working on that you-shaped groove in the couch you have been down the pub catching up with friends, but the festive season is at an end and it is time to face the world once more.

The New Year is upon us and, to get 2017 off to a good start, here are SportsJOE’s 12 steps to getting back on track after the 12 Days of Christmas.

1. Every journey starts with a single step

Connacht Players in Krasnoyarsk, Russia 13/11/2015 Aly Muldowney throws a snowball at Denis Buckley feels the cold Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Get out for a leisurely stroll over Christmas. The crisp, cool winter weather makes for lovely walking conditions and it is a good way to remind your feet how to go one in front of the other.

2. Start off slow

Okay, you have gone for a walk around the block but don’t start getting cocky. If you have spent the best part of a fortnight eating, drinking and vegetating, don’t decide to get back out there by running a half marathon or playing a 90-minute game of soccer. Take it easy, don’t strain anything.

3. Clear those cupboards

You have decked the halls, now it is time to clear the decks. If you have not got through the mounds of sweets, cakes and sausage rolls that accumulate over the Christmas period it might be time to donate them to your local food bank. Don’t be a hero, there is no honour in demolishing every selection box.

4. Sobering times

Programme Name: Royle Family - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Embargoed for publication until: 05/12/2012 - Picture Shows: Jim Royle (RICKY TOMLINSON) - (C) Jellylegs - Photographer: Vishal Sharma

We all partied, but you have to draw the line somewhere. That bottle of Drambuie your auntie dropped around is only going to be a sickly sweet temptation, give it to someone who enjoys making cocktails. That slab of cider can go too. A few weeks free of temptation and free of alcohol will do you the world of good.

5. Make a plan

You have loosened the limbs and freed yourself of temptation, now it is time to set some goals. Don’t be too ambitious. No point in telling yourself you are going to lose a stone and run a four-minute mile before February. In your fragile state the failure could be too much to take.

6. Stay hydrated

This may sound obvious, but if you are embarking on an exercise regime it is vital you take in at least two litres of fluids per day.

7. Get in the protein

You’ve cleared all the crap out of the fridge, so time to stock it with good stuff. Protein, essential for muscle growth and maintenance, should be a cornerstone of any training diet. Milk and cheese, along with white meats and fish, are an excellent source of protein.

8. Mix it up

The key to an exercise programme you can stick to is variety. Don’t commit to a 5-kilometre run everyday. Instead investigate a programme to suit you – preferably something with a good mix of upper body resistance work, lower body resistance work and high intensity cardio.

9. Rest is key

Take advantage of those long January nights and make sure you get plenty of sleep. A new exercise regime off the back of a hectic festive period could take it out of you and there is absolutely no replacement for a good night’s sleep.

10. Plan your meals

Timing your carbohydrate intake prior to a workout is almost as important as the workout itself, while knowing what you are going to eat for each meal of everyday and, where possible, preparing them ahead of time, will help ensure you don’t take the lazy option and scoff those frozen mince pies and sausage rolls for dinner.

11. Consider taking the next step

Whether it is joining a gym, a football team or signing up for an adventure race – committing yourself to something more long-term can be a great way to keep up the good habits you have formed in January. But, as we said in point 2, don’t commit yourself to anything too drastic too early.

12. Stick with it

Whether you are calling it a ‘new year’s resolution’ or a ‘get fit regime’, do your best to stick with it. And hey, if you fall off the horse, you can just crawl right back on again. Those mince pies will taste all the sweeter after an active healthy 2017.

The National Dairy Council has partnered with the Irish Institute of Sport to share how top Irish Athletes are built by protein but powered by dairy. To learn more about the importance of dairy in sports nutrition, click here or see the hashtag #poweredbydairy.