I don’t know about you, but I think the festive holiday season is an awesome time of the year! There’s that special something in the air, that just makes me feel a little bit giddy with joy. In Australia, it means Summer sunshine and lots of beach time but I’m always a little jealous for those of you who are heading into Winter, the sparkle of snow gives it that extra special magical touch.
It’s a time to celebrate another year gone by, to catch up with friends and family and take some much needed time out. Of course this usually involves indulging in lots of yummy food. So when anxiety creeps in (as it often does) about how to navigate our journey around this time, it’s only natural to feel like it’s easier just to take a month off and go “all out”.
But I’m here to give you a few handy tips that will help you thrive through this period, not simply survive it! My key tip here is to absolutely enjoy all the celebratory food and drinks. Who likes feeling deprived, “on a diet” or left out whilst everyone is having Christmas pudding? All I suggest is to put the focus on being mindful at all other times. This for me is the best way to stay positive, because I enjoy all the celebrations with everyone but most of all for me it’s about the experience of sharing the moment with loved ones.
So without further ado, here’s my list of my 5 top hacks to stay on track but still have exactly the same amount of fun and enjoyment when celebrating with everyone!
1. Keep Moving Your Body
Think of all the added energy you’ll have from all the extra calories consumed! See how you can put a positive spin on indulging! Just because you ate an extra piece of pudding doesn’t mean all of a sudden the workout is negated or shouldn't be done.
No, in fact it’s the perfect time to move your body! Being the holiday season often we have more time that usual, so what a great opportunity it is to move your body more not less. Give your body the opportunity to burn some of those extra calories you have consumed. Schedule workouts in everyday, walk more and add a few extra at home workouts. Just keep moving everyday!
2. Eat Lighter At All Other Times
If I know I have a family lunch coming up that day, I often will have a super light breakfast and sometimes I might even just have coffee. Of course it’s about what feels good for you but if you also go and have eggs, bacon with avocado on toast, followed by all the goodies at lunch and then have steak and chips for dinner, and do this over and over for the month of December, well you can imagine how you’ll feel…
For me this is where the 80/20 guide works. Indulge 20% of the time! So from the example above, if I know that i'll be indulging at lunch, then the rest of my eating around that day will be adjusted. I want to maximise that experience and not feel deprived because that’s what I’m looking forward to, so if that means eating 1 piece of toast instead of 2 at breakfast and having a light tuna or chicken with salad for dinner, so I could I enjoy the heck out of that lunch, I will! Protein shakes are also a great go to and can even be a dinner option when lunch has been super filling.
3. Be Creative When Drinking Your Calories
Calories often have a sneaky way of hiding within our most delicious (and often what we think of as) “healthy” drinks. During this time of year we often celebrate not only through food but also with what we drink. That could be a glass (or two) of champagne, it could be a cup (or four) of hot chocolate…
I’m not here to tell you to completely avoid all alcohol, sugary soft drinks (soda), juices etc because it’s simply unrealistic. Here are a few tips if you’re like me and fancy a glass or two of champagne during the festive season, there is a way to still have that and curb those calories:
- Drink a glass of water alternating with your alcoholic drink. I prefer sparkling water with a wedge of lime or lemon so it still makes me feel like i’m drinking what could look like a vodka & soda without feeling left out within a social setting.
- Speaking of vodka & soda, opt for lower calorie mixers like sparkling water or tonic water instead of fruit juices containing loads of extra sugar and also white spirits such as vodka & gin also have the lowest calories as compared to the darker spirits.
- Try substituting soft drinks with sparkling water infused with real fruit such as berries, orange segments, and other citrus fruits.
- Make some iced tea for a naturally flavoured drink
- Opt for wine, light beer or sparkling champagne over cocktails and cider/beer to reduce a few calories through an easy swap
- Use nut milks such as Almond milk for your eggnog as this is lower in calorie than regular milk
- Try to sip your drinks to savour them and not just gulp them down, not only will you enjoy it more, but you might have less of a hangover the next day too!
4. Give Away Your Leftovers And Endless Supply Of Snacks During The Holidays
As we approach December 25th, take a quick look around the house and you’ll soon realise all of a sudden you have numerous boxes of chocolates, pudding & for me it’s panettone (my husband is Italian) lying around! I don’t know about you but sometimes I need to use the rule of “out of sight out of mind”, and I know if I have an endless supply of treats that I can munch on for the months of December-February, I’ll soon be waddling with a few extra kgs into March.
A big hack that has helped me is only having those treats available in my house literally on Christmas-New Years week. Outside of this, whatever food/drink I receive as gifts, I try to re-gift. Any leftovers I have, I try to give away to family members. Taking the time to bring your leftovers and give it away to the local homeless shelter is also another really positive way to give back. Whatever it may be, don’t let it all linger around your household because chances are it will all be eaten, we’re only human! Out of sight, out of mind.
5. Find An Accountability Partner Or Tribe To Help You Stay On Track
Of course having someone to help support you along the way is always an absolute bonus! And let me just say it’s not about watching over you and reprimanding when they catch you with a chocolate in your mouth. Nope, it’s more about having a buddy to go walking with and helping you stay active, or the friend who suggests you go to to a cafe for lunch instead of a fast food joint, or even just someone to listen to you when the urge to just give it all up and “start again” on Jan 1st.
We all need support, so if you find it hard to have that person in your life, then why don’t you join our tribe in our private group. Every single person including me is on their journey in there and are only going to encourage you along your very own.
My Final Tip
Having an all or nothing approach is almost impossible if you want to be on a positive health journey for life. This kind of mindset can often do more harm than good for your body and mind. Remember it’s all about being flexible with yourself, it’s ok to allow yourself this time of year and indulge in the festive season.
Following these tips won’t mean any less fun, but I guarantee that you will have a stronger mindset going into 2019, because you will BE in control of your actions instead of being controlled by them.