I can already hear it… The echoes of these thoughts as the year comes to a close and the festive season fast approaches...
- "I don’t want to ruin all the progress I’ve made"
- "I’m anxious around all the events that are coming up with the festive season"
- "There will be SO much food and alcohol, how will I be able to control myself?"
- "ALL my good work and progress will be undone!"
These used to be thoughts many moons ago, until I stopped took a breath and changed the story I was telling myself. I’ve built the tools to help quieten that chit chat in my mind around this period and also created some much needed strategies. These tips are some of my best ways to help you to ENJOY the holiday period without having to stress about regressing.
1 | Make the decision
Before doing anything, you need to stop and set out your intentions. What is it that you hope to achieve over the holiday period? Do you want to continue to lose weight over this time? Are you hoping to maintain the level you are at right now or do you really want to enjoy yourself to the max and are perhaps even ok with putting on some extra weight? Honestly ALL OF THESE are perfect options, but you need to be realistic so that you are setting yourself up for success, not failure. Personally, I like to stay around my maintenance because realistically, I like to enjoy myself during this period whereas hoping to lose weight during this time would mean sacrificing a large portion of the good stuff that comes with the holidays and New Year. There are plenty of other times throughout the rest of the year where I would prefer to do this than at Christmas time! Whatever route you choose this will ultimately predict how you approach the season and help in guiding your decision during this period.
Your Task: Make the decision of what you want your goal to be this festive season and write it down in your diary or on a piece of paper, stick it on your fridge whatever works for you just make sure you write it down!
2 | Don’t Catastrophise
With all the events that start popping up, it may start to seem like you have something ini the diary every day from thanksgiving to the 1st of January. The operative word being SEEM! Here I literally want you to get a calendar and mark out all of your social events! You may find that in fact there are only 5 days out of the month where you have something on instead of it feeling like the whole month is a write-off. The reason why I want you to write it out is because doing this actually helps us to visualise the days you have something on and create a strategy around the days you don’t have anything on. Essentially this will you to see the season in perspective!
Your Task: Print out a calendar, or mark in your diary or even on your phone all of the events that you have and then look at the big picture of what days you might be indulging more than usual and all of the other days that you don't have anything on.
3 | Strategise
This step is all about taking control and knowing that you actually have a CHOICE in everything. Now this is going to be a little bit of tough love but we often like to play the victim instead of finding ways that work within our goals. You need to put strategies in place and make the decision to stick to those depending on what your goals was that you decided on from step one. Some good strategies include creating certain boundaries for example if dessert is you weak point and there are 10 dessert options perhaps try 3 different kinds but make it one single serving. If it’s a buffet style lunch or dinner fill your plate with everything you want to try but don’t go back for seconds. Limit your alcohol intake to a certain amount of drinks and incorporate water in between each drink. Figuring out these boundaries will allow you to be in control and still allow you to experience but feel as though you’re not going backward in progress.
Your Task: Depending on what you have on, write down in your diary or phone notes specific strategies that you are going to implement specific to your event.
4 | Be a Food Snob
This is a great follow on from the point above. Essentially this is another great strategy that you can implement during the festive season and it’s all about the types of foods that are put in front of you. For example if Aunt Mary has made her famous pecan pie that you only get to eat at this time of year then enjoy it to the max. (P.S. if you haven’t checked out our pecan pie recipe yet, you should definitely do so here.) But if this is a supermarket bought mud-cake that you could eat at any time of the year maybe make the decision to opt-out of that one. At the end of the day you get to CHOOSE and you’re in control. For me personally, I love to go for the good stuff as I find it way more satisfying and that way I enjoy the whole experience without any feelings of guilt!
Your Task: Sift through your options and choose the things you really want and the things that might not be available to you at all times that you can enjoy during this season.
5 | Remember why you’re there
The holiday season isn’t just about food! It’s about being social, spending quality time with family and friends and creating memories with the people you love. Stop thinking that the focus is just on food and recognise all the other awesome reasons for going. I totally understand that these kinds of events can also create some anxiety and if this is something that you experience then focusing on all the other reasons why you’re going can often help to feel a little less anxious about the situation. There are some other strategies you might want to implement like bringing your own dish. One that you feel comfortable eating - you don’t have to tell them it’s a lower calorie option! If people are urging you to eat more then tell them you’re full at the moment but you might get some later or take some home - this will get them off your back!
Your Task: If you have an event coming up and feeling a little uncomfortable about it, I want you to journal all of the emotions you're experiencing and how you're feeling about the event. Write down some strategies that you think will help you with this event to have a good time but still feel in control.
6 | Don’t forget 80/20
See your events as the 20% of your 80/20 and focus on what you’re doing for the most part outside of these events. Don’t forget about all of the amazing habits you’ve made throughout the last year! We tend to switch off when it comes to the holiday season and all the tools that we have implemented all year kind of get lost under the holiday spirit! Remember to continue to focus on your habits like moving daily (find some fun ways to get the family involved!), hitting water and protein goals and getting enough rest. If this is a time where you’re anxious then perhaps continuing to journal will be a really useful tool for you to recognise how you’re feeling and how to approach future situations. Focus on what you’re doing for the 80% because that’s where you’ll make great progress toward your goals.
Your Task: Thoroughly ENJOY the 20% of events and continue with your routine the rest of the 80% of the time.
7 | You can’t fail if you don’t quit
If you follow me on the daily, you’ll know I say this a lot and for good reason! The only time you fail is when you stop trying. I want you to always remember this! If you feel like you’ve gone off the rails, you are only one step from getting right back on track again. If you ate more dessert than what you had hoped - IT’S OK! Make your next meal full of wholesome ingredients, don’t just throw in the towel. I like to use this analogy; if you fall down, do you just stay sitting on the ground? No! You get up and keep on going! So don’t let one experience throw you off track. I don’t know about you but I can hear the lyrics in my head right now... “If at first you don’t succeeeeeed.. Brush yourself off and try again” by Aaliyah. Anyone else or is that just me incorporating music again wherever I can!? 🤪
Your Task: Remain non-judgemental. If a situation doesn't go as you planned accept it for what it is and move on. The festive season should be thoroughly enjoyed and remember that you are only one step away from being back on track.
I really hope that these tips and strategies will help you ENJOY the holiday period and make awesome experiences during this time without feelings of guilt or shame. If you find something really worked for you or if you are really struggling with something in particular always feel free to get in touch with me.
Happy Holidays everyone!