Don’t abandon your goals.
How many times do you hear people say ‘I can’t stick to that over Christmas’ or something along those lines? This, in psychology parlance, is a limiting belief. It is far from true but by telling yourself it you are disabling yourself and effectively making a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure Christmas and New Year may involve a little more drinking and a bit more food than normal but when you take a step back and look at it there isn’t anything particularly scary, some goals may be a bit more of a challenge but that just means you have to be a bit more creative to stick to them. Embrace the challenges and stay on track, you’ll thank yourself come January 1st.
Use carb-backloading as your dietary strategy
Seasonal excesses are the most common issue for people over Christmas so you need to strike a balance between enjoying all the festive food and not completely de-railing your body composition goals. The easiest way to do this is via carb back-loading. This is something I’ve discussed at length in the past here so hopefully you are aware of this approach or even using some form of it. Essentially you eat lightly and carb-free through the day and then eat your carbs in the evening. This fits nicely into the party season as you can stick to optimal foods through the day with natural fats and protein and then indulge a little more in the evening when the canapés and mince pies are on offer. You can enhance all this even further by sneaking a quick gym session in the late afternoon, that way you are ensuring you are getting the carbs to exactly where you want them.
Use your time off
Christmas is typically associated with a little more holiday, especially the dead time between Christmas and New Year. Rather than viewing this time as an opportunity to slob out try to make the most of it. Crisp winter days present the perfect opportunity to get outside and explore and long dark evenings are a great chance to curl up in front of a fire and do some reading or planning. Don’t troop back into work full of regret for the things you wish you’d done in your time off. Yes you need to relax but that doesn’t have to include a chocolate coma and crappy TV.
Try gluten free & low carb recipes
Traditional festive food needn’t involve a heavy carb and gluten hit. By being creative you can very easily either find or create low carb and gluten free versions of your favourite foods and enjoy them with a little less worry for your waistline. It’s easy to use eggs and ground almonds or coconut flour to create a simple pastry for mince pies, there are a huge range of gluten free Christmas puddings now available and you could even take the plunge and aim for a gluten free Christmas meal, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after it. What’s more if you involve yourself in the cooking process it will make your food infinitely more satisfying than just buying from a shop.
Look after your stomach
If your digestive system is going to take a bit of a pounding over Christmas then make sure you are looking after it. Before any big meals try to introduce some natural probiotics such as kefir or sauerkraut to aid digestion and if you are feeling delicate following the office party then assemble some veg and meat leftovers and create a simple broth using stock made from proper bones. That will settle your stomach very quickly.
Have a hangover cure
With so much going on over Christmas you don’t want to be missing out on activities because of a hangover. I’ve researched and experimented with a few ‘cures’ and found a foolproof one which has worked for me many times. I take N-acetyl-cystine and some vitamin c before drinking and then after drinking have some water with dioralyte and then an activated charcoal tablet. It sounds like a witches’ potion and involves spending a tenner in Holland & Barrett but it works.
Relax and enjoy it!
Finally, and most importantly, you have to take some time out to relax and enjoy. You don’t have to abandon all your goals, following the tips here will see those ticking over in the background, leaving you to focus on the festive period with family and friends.
I hope the above has given you some simple strategies to navigate your way through the Christmas period keeping your goals intact. Don’t fall into the ‘all or nothing’ mindset which so many people operate with. It is perfectly easy to have a fun Christmas, filled with excess without putting on a stone. If you have any more tips or tricks then I’d love to hear them so do comment below.