If the year was a week, December would be your Saturday night. Party season. A much needed period to blow off some steam, relax the top button of the jeans and hopefully enjoy the company of great friends and family.
But it’s not all mistletoe and reindeers. It can be a difficult period for anyone looking to manage their weight. A month full of delicious and easy to overeat foods.
It’s typically the time of year where you might put your health and weight goals on the back burner. Drop your standards and give up on what has been important to you for most of the year. Why? Well you might feel this is the only way to enjoy yourself.
Or that it’s a month that can be written off. What’s the point? You’ll get back to things on the first Monday in January.
But with the right mindset shift and a little planning, you can enjoy yourself and enter the new year with your goals still intact.
How nice would it be for a change not feeling like you need to do anything drastic to “get back on track” in January?
Enjoy Christmas without piling on the pounds.
If there’s one thing to get stuck in your head for the upcoming holidays, it is this…they are the holiDAYS…
Not the holiWEEKS or holiMONTHS.
At the end of the day, weight gain comes down to a balance of energy in the body. Calories coming in from food and drink against the calories being used to keep you alive.
Weight management works over time. Over. Time.
What happens in one single day or one single meal doesn’t even make a ripple when it comes to your long term progress.
But what you do most of the time over the course of the whole month of December, absolutely does.
3 Tips for an Enjoyable December without losing sight of your health goals.
#1 Check your Mindset:
How you think of, and view the finish line of the year could be the only thing holding you back from maintaining your health and weight goals through to the new year.
Don’t hit the “ah sure it’s Christmas” mentality too early.
The default attitude for the majority this time of year is to treat December as a ‘Write Off!’
“What’s the point in even trying?”
“I’ll start my diet in January so I may as well eat what I can now!”
And like I said above, the classic “gowaaaaaan it’s Christmas!”
A lesson we love to get across ASAP with the people we work with, who are chasing better health and life long weight management, and one I want you to takeaway from reading this;
Your bodyweight and your physique…these are outcomes.
They are the result of your daily actions, habits and behaviours repeated over time. They are the product of your lifestyle.
I’ll say it again. Single days. Single meals. Single foods. These have much less impact on your long term weight than you think right now.
Your Christmas dinner does not make a blind bit of difference to your yearly progress.
Indulging in moderation over the next month is expected.
But forgoing all your daily health habits for the whole month might.
#2 Plan Ahead
It’s easy to think that weight management is impossible in December.
But the most overlooked, and most powerful, tool in your arsenal is simply thinking ahead of time.
Look forward, plan and prepare for what’s coming up.
Plot all the major social events on your calendar.
You have the big three – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Stephens Day. Throw in New Years Eve and a couple of parties.
There are 31 days in December. You could have anywhere from 3 to 6 or even 8 days where you are going to party, drink and/or eat more than you normally would.
There are actually a lot more opportunities to keep your routine as normal as possible than you think.
The majority of the month can be business as normal. Build out a sustainable eating plan, where where work parties and social events are part of the plan.
It’s NOT a reason to think you are “off track” and you can start again at a later date.
This stop-start, on-again off-again attitude is holding you back.
Learning sustainability is learning how to work things like this into your life.
#3 Be Kind to yourself
You’re probably going to eat more chocolate than you planned one day. You’re going to have a few too many glasses of Prosecco and wake up worse for wear even when you swore you were’ just going for one’.
And that’s ok.
You have not messed anything up. You have not ruined your progress. You don’t have to give up on the month and start again in January.
If you do any of the above, just get back to normal at the next opportunity.
And learn from the experience. Are you trying to fit yourself into unrealistic diet standards? Are you trying to be too restrictive? Are you chasing perfection?
This is one time to enjoy yourself. To be present with your circle of friends and family. To do the weird traditions you might have. Watch good-bad movies. Have lovely conversations or desperately try to avoid the crap ones from the drunk co-worker.
You can restrict and restrain yourself all day, track calories for the whole month, worry about food so much that you are terrible company and yes, you might not gain any weight but you didn’t have a very merry Christmas either.
And chances are you will be in the exact same position in 6-12 months as if you had just ate those profiteroles!
About the Author:
Niall Feeney is a personal trainer in SixFour Fitness and our in house expert for everything nutrition and sensible weight management.
You can check out more of his blog posts over on his own website..