As Christmas rapidly approaches conversation in our Manchester personal training gym is turning to whether everyone is ready and prepared for it.
For a lot of us, Christmas is a time to chill back and enjoy a relaxed time with friends and family, for others, it’s a really stressful time that you might be glad to see the back of.
Either way, the ‘Christmas season’ can be a good excuse to indulge in weeks of food and alcohol based debauchery. The consequences of the season of excess can be felt well into January (bloating, lethargy, fat gain etc), and in fact can be felt for years to come.
It’s estimated that most people gain the most fat around Christmas year on year, but fail to lose it, leading to a cumulative effect over the years.
Here’s how to take a more measured approach to Christmas and 3 things I’m talking to my clients about right now:
1/ The first thing I’m talking to our personal training clients about is food buying and being realistic – a standard scenario for this time of year is to buy enough food to supply the International Space Station for a year, and eat it in the space of a couple of weeks.
Christmas is just one day – so food shop accordingly! Sure, it’s Christmas Day so eat what you want, but many people not only treat most of December like it’s open season on eating and drinking junk, but also end up eating huge quantities of food well into January because the house is full of junk.
Only buy enough food for Christmas Day, maybe Boxing Day too, then you’re not tempted to carry on indulging into New Year. In your head, isolate those two days and then get back to your usual routine – much easier to do when your cupboards aren’t bulging with Pringles!
The same goes for New Year’s Eve.
2/ Don’t let family / friends / the occasion dictate your food quality and caloric intake! Christmas dinner can actually be really healthy – meat and vegetables is what we recommend to our clients year round, and a traditional Christmas dinner plate usually looks pretty healthy.
Sure, some excess wine and a large dessert or helping Christmas pudding might be part of the equation, and that’s fine too.
While you might well pig out, it doesn’t have to be an excuse to eat the caloric intake of a small Asian nation at a single sitting – just eat what you feel like eating and chill the hell out!
For some reason there’s not only the option but also a massive expectation (maybe it’s a factor of our increasingly consumerist society) that you have to eat to bursting, then eat some more, and then some more. And then carry that on, even when you don’t feel like it, for days to follow.
My Christmas Day menu might look like this:
Morning NutriBullet – loads of berries and nuts, no greens (just because it’s Christmas!)
Christmas dinner at about 2pm – plenty of protein, vegatables, most likely pretty heavy on the starchy carbs, followed by a very large helping of dessert, although I’ll most likely keep it gluten free (I’m not feeling like Christmas pudding this year, or mince pies, so I probably won’t buy any – I’m officially a mince pie free zone at the time of writing).
Add a couple of drinks.
I’ll most likely be truly stuffed by 3pm, so stretching into the evening I envisage a decent but not massive cheese board and a bunch of Celebrations, plus a drink if I feel like it.
Boxing Day we’re over at my parents, so while a pretty hefty meal might be expected I won’t be going in on things in the same way as Christmas Day – I’ll already have one eye on getting back to my normal routine and focusing how I want to look, feel and perform going forward into 2017.
And that’ll be that.
New Year’s Eve might be a couple of glasses of fizz, then it’s 2017 and there’s no time to waste in smashing my goals.
3/ Get back into your normal routine on the 27th December – I know it’s a UK Bank Holiday this year, but in the same way that people can get stuck in holiday mode for a month or more after a holiday, the same applies to the post Christmas hangover!
Going into the festive season with this mindset is critical if you’re to both enjoy Christmas & New Year, and hit January primed and ahead of the curve. If you go in with a fuzzy ‘anything goes’ mindset, you’ll most likely find that by the time you’ve got yourself mentally ready to commit to your own success it’s June, your holiday awaits, and your beach ready body is still, and yet again, a distant dream.
That’s because tomorrow never comes, there’s always a ‘next Monday’, and real change starts now.
What happens in your mind dictates your decisions. Your decisions translate into actions. Consistent actions become habits. The right consistent habits become results.
Your results are how you look, how you feel, how you perform.
Choose to live better this Christmas and New Year, and make some decisions now.
To your lean, healthy, optimised future,
Matt & Dee