Once upon a time, Christmas was all about giving… giving up on your diet, that is!
The feasting normally begins when the first giant box of chocolates arrive, then drags on into mid-January when you need to buy jeans in a bigger size.
Perhaps you’re already bracing yourself for the inevitable weight gain this Christmas.
But, overindulgence at Christmas does not have to be a given.
Technically “Christmas” is only one day in the year, so poor eating habits don’t have to span across the whole holiday season.
I know, there are more social functions to attend, and perhaps more unhealthy food in your home than normal, but you can still have a few treats here and there, enjoy yourself, and all the while stay the course… I promise!
So, to help you let your hair down, without winding up a lardy bag of regret by New Year, let me give you my best tips.
1. Squeeze In A Workout
I know, you want to “take a break” during the holidays, but trust me, this is reeeeeeeally important!
Not only does it make you feel good, while boosting your metabolism, but if you’re already in an exercise groove, don’t even think about taking a break from your workouts — you will undoubtedly find it incredibly difficult to get back into afterwards.
And, giving up your workouts can make you feel like you’ve completely fallen off the wagon — not good for your mind-set overall.
Basically, you’re just making things a bizillion times more difficult for yourself later on.
Most of us are stuck for time at Christmas, so my high intensity workouts are a fantastic idea (not to mention super effective), since they are over in no time.
The results showed an increase in aerobic capacity by 13 percent. Fat burning capacity was boosted by 36 percent. And, they also saw an increase in key aerobic enzymes, by almost 25 percent.
So, rather than slacking off during the next two weeks, you could be boosting your fat burning potential with high intensity workouts.
Why not try this home workout routine, then let me know how you get on.
A another idea is to get your whole family involved throughout the holidays like we did a few years ago, when we built a Snowman named Boreas :-)
It was lots of fun, we got a bit of a workout, and it was fab family together-time… that’s hard to beat!
So, make the sacrife, and get a least a little exercise squeezed into your day.
It really is worth it.
2. Be Moderate In Everything
I believe in healthy eating most of the time, whether you’re trying to lose weight, or simply want to be your fittest, strongest, most incredible.
But, it is okay to enjoy a few extra treats at Christmas. It’s all part of the holiday season, and it doesn’t have to derail you, if you keep things in perspective.
Plan, plan, plan
One of the best ways to do this is to prepare ahead.
So, if you have a party or big family meal, start your day with a healthy breakfast, take some exercise if it’s your day to workout, drink lots of water, and perhaps have a small snack beofre you go to the party, so that your hunger levels are controllable, not ravenous.
Sometimes you will want some of the treats that are on offer, so level with yourself and make a plan to deal with this.
Love homemade sticky toffee pudding? Okay, totally worth it, so plan to have a big serving, along with lashings of toffee sauce.
But, the deal is you don’t spoil it by nibbling on stale potato chips, or pile your plate high with extra potatoes beforehand.
The idea is to make room for the delicious dessert you want to have, by keeping everthing else pretty healthy, and reasonable in portion size.
All of these steps will help you to feel more grounded.
I find that when people think they’ve fallen off the wagon, they throw caution to the wind, and go headlong into a massive bing, which does nothing but make them feel sorry for themselves.
Don’t allow yourself to get to that place.
Just stay reasonabily healthy where you can, then allow those treats in moderation, don’t feel guilty, and get back on track ASAP.
The worst thing you can do, is start slacking off for days on end. It just makes things 110 times more difficult when you do.
Beware the food pusher
I also find that the holiday season is a time when we feel the need to please others by eating everything they set in front of us.
And, although they’ve probably been slogging away for hours in the kitchen, if you don’t want what they’re offering, and you already feel stuffed, it’s completely okay to politely decline.
At least give your stomach and brain time to communicate with each other, and say you might have some in a little while.
By holding back for a while, you’ll be in a better position to assess just how much, if any, you can eat, and you’ll probably find if you do have some more afterwards, you’ll be happy to eat a lot less.
Just remember, when a food pusher is around, you need to be assertive, not aggressive, when you are saying no to them.
Take care with alcohol
If you drink alcohol, it’s really important to keep in mind the huge amount of calories you could be taking in unawares.
Also, the more alcohol you drink, the more likely it is you’ll eat more than you intended to, particularly from high calorie munchies, that always go hand-in-hand with booze and parties.
Bring a plate
I always love that expression, “bring a plate.” It reminds me of when I lived in Australia. I’d never heard of bringing food to a party described like that before, and initially wondered what on earth I was supposed to put on my plate!
While you may feel like such a crazy party pooper by bringing “healthy” food to a party, I can assure you it will be better received by many than you imagine.
It’s highly likely there will be at least a few people there sick of stuffing themselves silly all Christmas, and they will be glad to see alternative options to choose from.
Here are a few of my favorites;
- Apricot halves topped with a little cheese, like blue or wensleydale, crushed pistachio nuts and freshly ground pepper
- Dips such as french onion, spinach dip or hummus along with a colorful selection of raw vegetables, like baby carrots, sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas, radishes, baby corn, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, cucumber wedges, grape tomatoes
- Marinated olives and feta cheese, olive tapenade, or Greek salad skewers with cucumber, feta cheese, olives and tomatoes
- Radish slices, topped with smoked salmon, reduced fat cream cheese and a sprinkling of chopped chives
- Mixed unsalted nuts, or dates and walnuts
- Fresh fruit sorbet rather than ice cream
- Fresh or dried fruit dipped into dark chocolate or chocolate fondue
Healthified chocolate fondue
Try this recipe to make chocolate fondue, without adding heavy cream.
1/2 cup cocoa powder (high quality)
1/2 cup nonfat evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa), finely chopped
- Place the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Then, gradually pour in the evaporated milk, and whisk to make a paste.
- Place the saucepan over a low heat, and stir constantly, until simmering.
- Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla and chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted.
- It will thicken slightly as it cools.
- Serve in a small bowl or fondue pot, with a selection of seasonal fruit for dipping.
3. Manage Your Stress
I mentioned a little about stress and cortisol last week in my article on eating carbs at night.
But to recap, when you are under stress, your body prepares for a fight or flight situation, by increasing adrenaline and cortisol production. Essentially it sees it as an emergency, no matter what the cause.
The problems come when you frequently feel stressed out. This forces your adrenal glands to be on constant high alert, which leads to perpetually high levels of cortisol.
As I showed last week, if your cortisol levels are repeatedly elevated, studies indicate this can lead to weight gain.
So, although the holiday season can be ridiculously stressful, with so much to do, so many people to see, and really a very short period of time to do it all in, it’s not worth getting stressed about.
Get some shuteye
So, the first strategy to keep your stress levels down, is to get plenty of rest.
The increased demands on your time over the holidays, mean it’s not unusual to skimp on sleep, in an effort to get everything done. But, this is counterproductive.
Sleep deprivation reduces your ability to cope with even the smallest stressors. As I’ve said, a lack of sleep increases your levels of cortisol in the blood, and this is linked to increased blood pressure, a negative impact on your immune system, and also fat storage.
Set realistic expectations
Try not to set unrealistically high expectations for your holiday gatherings.
I know how tempting it is to want everything to be absolutely perfect. But, I find the more you stress about things like that, the less “perfect” is becomes.
If something doesn’t quite turn out right, it doesn’t mean you’ve somehow failed.
Try to relax and go with the flow.
I know that’s difficult to do when it’s not your normal attitude. But, make a start at least towards that way of thinking, rather than allowing yourself to go on getting stressed out about every little detail.
You’ll find that even if things don’t go exactly as you’d planned, they can still be enjoyable and memorable in their own right, when you have the mindset to enjoy it, whatever happens.
Ask for help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things you need to do over the holidays, ask for help.
Sometimes friends and family members don’t realize just how much you have on, and it doesn’t even enter their head to offer a helping hand.
There’s no shame in asking for some help, and if you have kids, it can be a lot of fun to do things togther as a family, perhaps even starting your own family traditions as a result.
New Years Resolutions
There’s always the prospect of news years resolutions looming at this time of year, too.
So, a few choice questions may be helpful, to focus your mind, and help you make a plan for the year ahead.
Firstly, are you happy with your current weight?
That’s the million dollar question for many, but be honest, and ask yourself what your life will be like 10 years from now, if you continue as you are?
Is that a happy place?
Or, do you see that changes need to be made now, before it becomes too late?
If the latter is true, then right now is the perfect time to start making those changes.
Rather than telling yourself it’s okay if you gain weight this holiday season, why not challenge yourself to at least maintain your current weight? Then, you can begin to think about getting to your goal weight after the holidays are over.
Secondly, what goals do you want to achieve in 2013?
Why not jot down your goals right now? I mean, what have you got to lose? :)
Write down whatever comes to mind. It really doesn’t matter if they seem wacky, or unrealistic. This is just the initial stage, you can refine it later.
This is about setting your intent to make lifestyle changes that will improve your health and fitness levels in the incoming year.
Thirdly, who are you accountable to?
Accountability is a massive part of weight loss success.
By telling someone your intentions you automatically increase your changes of being successful, because you’re now liable to someone other than yourself.
This is a great way to help you stay on track.
You can keep it simple by emailing or texting a friend with your weekly weight loss updates, or you could join a group for a more face-to-face approach.
The Big Fat Cure
If you’d like help with any of this, The Big Fat Cure Coaching Program is now in full swing.
Here’s what Dana Shultz had to say in her review of the BFC last week;
Of all the weight loss programs we could recommend, the Big Fat Cure is one of the absolute best we’ve come across. It’s so approachable, practical and not at all intimidating, and truly seeks to hit on the issues each person struggles with so they can finally find their way to a healthier, fitter life. I went through the videos and course information myself and was so pleasantly surprised and easily engaged that I would gladly recommend this program to anyone I know. For anyone who’s ready to make that real, lasting change, The Big Fat Cure may just be the answer for you.
By joining the program, you’ll get diet and exercise support, as well as a community of like-minded people there to encourage and hold each other accountable.
I’d love to welcome you onboard, and help you reach your health goals in 2013.
Don’t wait, you can find out more here.
I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday!