It’s that time of year again… where every temptation that you’ve ever known gets placed right in front of your face. I know I just finished my Christmas baking and damnnnnn they are so tasty.
If you have no discipline and willpower throughout the rest of the year how can you expect to resist during this time? And if you have developed a certain amount of willpower and discipline how can you become a little more lenient and enjoy yourself still?
I’ve struggled in previous years with both situations. One year I said screw my fitness and indulged like crazy feeling disgusted and ashamed going into the New Year. In other years I had been really strict and disciplined leaving me with constant cravings and not really enjoying the holidays in all their glory.
I have finally met myself in the middle and have a pretty solid strategy going into the holidays that leave me with a good healthy balance of keeping promises to myself and indulging in some delicious treats and boozy drinks.
First off PLAN AHEAD: Like I always say as quoted from my dear dad, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Get your December calendar out and find those days or nights you have social events, nights off from work, date nights, or Christmas dinners. These will be your higher calorie days. Try to exercise on these days before your event so the food you consume can be used to repair tissue.
Do NOT starve yourself the day of the event! You can consciously eat a little less or smaller meals but if you fast before hand you are setting yourself up for the ultimate binge eat. Make sure to hit your protein and hydration targets that day. Fill up a big water bottle in the morning and sip on that throughout the day. Eat a sufficient amount of protein before your event having a protein shake or a bowl of greek yogurt are some ideas.
If going to a dinner or buffet pick foods higher in protein first before loading up on sugar, carbs, and fat. Higher protein (meats and cheeses are usually common) will keep you feeling full and will prevent you from over eating. Drink the water!!! If you can remember try to continuously drink water throughout the night. Mix a water in between each alcohol beverage to help you stay hydrated (and prevent hangovers).
On a normal basis I usually follow an 80/20 rule which means 80% of what you eat should be considered healthy (veggies, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, rice, dairy products such as yogurt, healthy fats etc). The other 20% can be whatever your heart desires that day. In December you can bend this a little bit do a 75/25 or even 70/30 rule and it won’t hurt you. On event days this rule will understandably be pretty much tossed out the window.
After indulging in some delicious food that everyone has made with love and BEFORE considering seconds… pause. Take a conscious second and listen to your body. Consider how it will feel to eat more and how it will feel to not eat more. Drink another glass of water then make your decision. There is no wrong decision here but try to stay self and body aware.
If there is dancing involved at your party… DO IT. Or start a dance party yourself! Dancing can help you burn some extra cals and get everyone else fired up.
NON EVENT DAYS:
Because it is Christmas time we usually want to continue to feel the cheer and enjoy Christmas treats pretty well every day of this month. And this is just fine! There is a way to go about it without overeating every single day.
First off start your days off with a good healthy breakfast. Try to include a source of protein and a healthy fat. Next decide what kind of unhealthy Christmas baking or treat your going to eat that day and work the rest of your meals around this. Again when you plan ahead you are preventing a lot of mindless munching and over indulgence because you will look forward to those pre planned treats.
If you are a flexible dieter. Punch in or minus the Christmas treats you have picked for the day first thing in the morning. Work your macros around these. Simple as that.
End each day with a herbal tea. There are many festive herbal teas out there that can taste amazing especially when sweetened with a little stevia. One herbal tea with stevia has zero calories but also adds to your daily hydration. Prior to going for that last Christmas cookie or handful of nuts and bolts have the tea first, then decide if you still want it. Again there is no wrong decision here but be conscious of whether you are hungry or thirsty. Listen to what will feel right for your mind and body. Be conscious!
Continue to exercise like you normally do throughout the year. Don’t give up on this just because it feels too cold to leave the house or you’re just too busy. There is always time even if that means a five minute body weight workout. Your mind and your mental health will thank you dearly if you just keep moving. Some people will choose to ramp up their exercise because of the extra goodies and others will dial it back. Whatever you choose, just choose to do it. Whether it be a walk on the treadmill with some Christmas tunes or doing some stretching on the matts, getting in the gym doors or getting off the couch is the most important part.
I know it is easier said than done when it comes to temptations and often you will end up going overboard on the food. It’s important to stay resilient. Just because you had one night where you lost all control doesn’t mean you might as well give up. You are just one meal, one tall glass of water, or one positive self affirmation away to get yourself back on track. Forgive yourself and move on.
Start each day with a positive attitude. Say things to yourself such as “today is a new day” or “today will be a great day”. With every new day you have new opportunities to prioritize your health and to create joy. Treat December one day at a time and enjoy the Christmas season. Do one Christmasy thing per day. Christmas doesn’t have to evolve only around food and drink.
Here is my list of fun Christmasy ideas (that don’t involve food):
Ice skating, hockey, sliding, building a snowman or snow fort, snow angels, skiing/snow shoeing, Christmas decorating and lights, walking tour of Christmas lights, Christmas markets or craft shows, Christmas concerts or shows, Christmas paint night, and Christmas crafts.
Wishing you all a very happy and cheerful Christmas season!