by Skye Swaney, APD
It’s not just the Christmas decorations that seem to appear earlier and earlier each year, it’s also the parties, drinks and countless Christmas treats. If all we needed to worry about was one day of overindulgence, it wouldn’t be a problem. But ‘Christmas’ now seems to go on for about six weeks, which is more than long enough to do some serious damage to your hard earned progress.
No one wants to start off the New Year feeling bloated, lethargic and annoyed with themselves after weeks of eating and drinking too much. So how can you enjoy the festivities but still feel and look great when it’s all over? The key is finding a happy medium between a little indulgence and overindulgence.
These tips will help you navigate your way there:
Eat well when you can
When there are parties, dinners and work lunches happening left right and centre, healthy meals aren’t always an option. There are bound to be more times than usual when you’re not in full control over what you eat, so it’s important to make the most of the times when you are. If you have a party or a function at night, make sure you follow the Dr Joanna Plate as closely as possible at breakfast and lunch. That way, at least two out of your three meals for the day are healthy ones.
Don’t head out hungry
While some hunger is a good thing, turning up to a party ravenous is asking for trouble. There’s bound to be plenty of high kilojoule canapés on offer, which are much more difficult to resist when you’re starving. Alcohol also has more of an effect on you when you’ve got an empty stomach, which then compromises your food choices even further. So make sure you have a healthy snack or small meal before you head out to keep your hunger in check.
"There’s bound to be plenty of high kilojoule canapés on offer, which are much more difficult to resist when you’re starving"
Water, that is! You’ll no doubt be indulging in a few extra glasses of champagne or wine over the festive season, but make sure you stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water too. Because alcohol acts as a diuretic (i.e. increases urine output), it’s very dehydrating, which can leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic the next day, not to mention with a nasty hangover! Unfortunately there’s no way to prevent alcohol’s dehydrating effects (except abstaining!), however, having a glass of water between drinks will help to lessen them. Another big glass before you go to bed and when you wake up will help too.
"Because alcohol acts as a diuretic (i.e. increases urine output), it’s very dehydrating, which can leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic the next day, not to mention with a nasty hangover!"
Many people fall into the trap of indulging just for the sake of it at Christmas time. There are so many treats on offer which only come out at this time of year; mince pies, plum pudding, shortbread and Christmas cake (just to name a few), and it can be tempting to eat them just because it’s the season. But it really pays to be selective and choose only the indulgences that you really enjoy. If you’re not a big fan of mince pies, there’s no reason to eat them just because it’s Christmas and they won’t be around for the rest of the year. After all, you’re hardly going to miss them when they disappear!
"It really pays to be selective and choose only the indulgences that you really enjoy."
Beware of emotional eating
Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and celebration. But for many people it can be a difficult time emotionally, whether because of family tensions, missing loved ones, loneliness or financial strain. This can lead to comfort eating, or attempting to distract ourselves with food, especially when there’s a lot more tempting treats around than usual.
"Christmas for many people can be a difficult time emotionally, whether because of family tensions, missing loved ones, loneliness or financial strain."
Think about why you’re eating before you dig in, are you genuinely hungry or is there another reason behind your sudden need for a piece of shortbread? If so, think about activities other than eating that bring you comfort and do one of those instead.
Don’t drop the ball on exercise
It’s tempting to let your exercise routine go out the window at this time of year, but not only will you feel a whole lot better if you stay active, it will also help to balance out those indulgences too. And there’s no reason it can’t be fun - if going to the gym isn’t all that appealing, make the most of the good weather and some extra days off to try out alternative ways to get moving. Head to the beach for a swim or some soft sand running, go for a nighttime walk with your kids or tick of some of those ‘Christmas catch-ups’ by heading out for a walk instead of sitting at a café.
"Make the most of the good weather and some extra days off to try out alternative ways to get moving."
Keep expectations reasonable
Don’t expect to be shedding kilos over the festive season. If you can maintain your weight, you’re doing extremely well! Expecting too much can lead to disappointment and frustration when the reality falls short, which can then trigger you to ‘fall off the wagon’. Make sure you’re being realistic; this might be one time of year where your goal is to just keep things as they are.
"Make sure you’re being realistic; this might be one time of year where your goal is to just keep things as they are."
Put it in perspective
Remember, Get Lean is a lifestyle, not a diet, so there’s room for a little extra indulging when celebrations call for it. Get Lean has no end date, so even if you do deviate off course a little more than you had hoped to over the silly season, rest assured you can get straight back into it once all the festivities are over and continue on your way. However, bear in mind that this will be much easier to do if you maintain some control and don’t veer completely off track!
"Remember, Get Lean is a lifestyle, not a diet, so there’s room for a little extra indulging when celebrations call for it."
Above all, the most important thing is to enjoy this time. The true meaning of Christmas can tend to be overshadowed by all the other things that come with it – busy schedules, family politics, financial strain, worry about weight gain – but remember that Christmas is really a time to kick back, reflect on the year and spend some time with the people you love. So make that your number one priority.
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