We are into Christmas week which is traditionally one of the worst weeks of the year for all things health & fitness. However, there are a few things you can do to greatly minimise any damage which are outlined below and a sneaky technique that can actually help you longer term. Things I suggest would include –
–Miss Meals – If you are going to be eating at all different times of the day during the holidays then where possible look to miss a meal. If you were drinking until late you do not need breakfast, if you snacked on food all morning then miss lunch or if you find yourself feeling stuffed by 5pm just do not eat until the next day.
–Drink water – It is basic advice but it works, if you drink a fair bit of water during the day then you will be less able to eat too much food and will naturally eat less food.
–Eat Protein – While traditional Christmas day food does have protein, holiday eating is characterised by eating chocolates and other foods that do not contain much of it. If this is the case, just add in a protein source in some form, even if just on it’s own rather than alongside the other foods. This will fill you up more so you eat less without even trying.
–Move and move some more – If you are off work then there is a huge opportunity to move a lot. if you use steps then look to put in a big chunk each day by walking. If you are a runner or have some gym equipment then you can exercise daily to counteract some of the overeating. When you exercise, it will also change how you feel and contribute to controlling your eating.
–Know that Christimas foods are now all year – A lot of overeating is because you feel this is the only chance you have to eat that food, yet in reality, you can buy most foods all year round. You will see this with mini Cadbury’s eggs for Easter, they are in the shops from boxing day. You used to have just 1 month a year to buy them, now it is around 8 months a year. So there is no need to panic about having to eat as much as possible in your once yearly opportunity as you could have it all again in a few weeks.
Check how long Christmas really is – Many people have already checked out for the holidays and it will be a three-week event. For others, Christmas is literally one day. If your disruption is just 3 days or so I do not think you need to heed any of the advice in this email. You cannot do much damage in few days. If you holiday season is much longer, then you should look to how you can check back in mentally and perhaps break it with a productive day or two before New Year.
–Understand Diminishing Returns on Taste – Each time you eat a bit of food the taste satisfaction goes down, so the first bite may be 95% amazing, second 93%, the 5th will be about 80% and it continues to become less and less in that sitting. For optimal taste experience, you are far better having just a lower amount that you fully enjoy, then saving it over pushing through to finish it. You can then have more later on or another day. Most people struggle with this because they have never learnt how to not finish their plates or food.
Using Christmas For Future Progress
I always have a few clients sign up before Christmas each year and they get great results. I am not going to tell someone to be eating salad for ten days, they can eat what they want. However, the fact they are in the game at all means we can use the side effects of Christmas to train the brain in ways that will help you longer term.
With a hugely disrupted schedule, time off work, extra food around and more socialising you can actually begin training your brain to develop new habits. Contrary to popular beleif, you do not need to become a saint to develop new habits. You simply need to put in some repetitions to change your neural connections and natural behavuours.
Christmas is great for this, if you are hungover, you can avoid drinking around others, maybe you can leave food on your plate if you are stuffed or miss meals because you are not hungry. All of these things are much tougher during normal times than Christmas. You could use your extra energy from food to exercise daily or walk more. Your shopping present list could include exercise related tools from personal training to a Fit Bit or a Garmin. Perhaps, you could use your extra down time to read about health and fitness (my book>>) or research a fitness challenge you ould like to sign up for in 2024.
What Does This Mean For You?
Consider the points raised here to make the next couple of weeks help your progress longer term. If you roughly break even for the next fortnight then you would have already put in some early reps for a great 2024.
Photos – Some Christmas pics and festivities –
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