T’is the season to be merry, jolly and well in the words of good Ol St. Nick “I’m gonsta stuff my face with so much food I fall into a food coma on the sleigh ride home”
Christmas is upon us and it’s my favourite time of year, I mean I love it even more than my own birthday. The gathering of loved ones, smell of freshy baked cinnamon cookies, unique eggnog concoction’s being created like some kind of weird science experiment.
My favourite memories were sat in front of the fireplace watching Christmas movies with my family on Christmas Eve as a kid. This particular year it hadn’t snowed yet and if you’ve experienced a White Christmas you know the magic that comes with it. It’s getting late and you know you have to go to bed soon and it’s still not here yet, eventually you are told Santa won’t come unless you go to sleep so you head up slightly disappointed but hey it’s Christmas tomorrow. Wait … look outside someone yells. There, as perfect as the moment can be, comes the falling of snow and you know Christmas day is going to be truly memorable.
It’s a time of year where you let your hair down, the discipline of prep isn’t as soul consuming and you get to spend time with people you actually like. After a busy and stressful 12 months gone by since last Christmas you are ready to have a couple more wines that usual, consume foods you wouldn’t normally, stay up late and binge watch Christmas movies or whatever your creative output.
Is this where you might be going wrong …
For sure you should 100% spend this time with family, sharing memories of the year gone by and what you have planned next year to progress towards your new goals.
Yes you should absolutely attend work / family gatherings and have potentially have a little more wine and food than you normally would.
If you choose to do so and it is in your plan you could spend less time prepping and tracking every calorie you consume.
If you decide you are going to workout with friends or head to the beach instead of hitting your gym session then cool.
If you treat your body like a playground it will come back to bite you in the ass.
We make the mistake of thinking that during these holidays and others that we can do whatever we like and there’s no consequences to our actions. As if by some magic that calories cease to exist and we can become a human food disposal unit.
Yet can we enjoy the holidays, relax a little and not regret everything we did come January 2021 … let’s find out.
Most of this comes down to what you actually want to achieve in the grand scheme of things. Many fall short of their goals because they allow the short term satisfaction distract them from the long term success they want. It’s like a one night stand vs a long term loving relationship. Yeah sure the one night stand might turn out to be incredibly fun in that moment but that moment will pass very quickly (faster for some than others). A long term relationship will give you all of that fun for years to come and you get to share your memories with another person but it does require more work.
Again both are great but what is it you really want?
There are many ways you can do this but let’s run through a few of my favourites
1. Just enjoy it!
Throughout the morning you enjoyed opening up the gifts you asked Santa for and he did not disappoint (Ahem Play Station 5 would be awesome big guy). You entertained your nieces and nephews or children and man were they wired with excitement.
Lunchtime!!! Now it’s time for your real Christmas gift. You decide to indulge on some turkey, ham, stuffing, roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables with a TON of gravy! Then of course there’s Christmas pudding or some kind of dessert, and you gotta snack on the chocolates from the variety of boxes that have been gifted.
Now remember your body does not know WTF just happened. All it realised was that an ungodly amount of calories were shovelled into your mouth so it has to do something with them. Now as you might be aware when we consume food, our blood sugar rises and a hormone called Insulin is released from your pancreas. It’s Insulins job as a storage hormone to do something with all the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are now in your blood stream, so it does a few things:
1. Stores energy in the muscle as muscle glycogen
2. Stores energy in the liver as liver glycogen
3. Stores energy in fat cells as triglycerides
Once you consume enough to be stored in the muscle and liver, there’s only one place that excess energy can go and that’s fat.
Before you freak out. You can eventually utilise those stored fat cells as energy but you have to be aware that this is going to happen regardless if you like it or not. If you are a lean individual this probably won’t matter too much, however if you are overweight or trying to lose body fat then you need to keep an eye on your food consumption over this period.
So you can just take a little stress of yourself and enjoy the holidays but just be aware that this process will happen and you can control it.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the holidays you just have to be willing to pick your battles, which brings us to point number 2.
2. Pick your battles
Be smart people. As we already know that over consuming food like some kind of spawn of the cookie monster will yield in you looking in the mirror and being like “Oh Fuck I Did It Again”. We can avoid all of that by just taking a little initiative and not thinking we need to attend every event or at least over consume at every event.
Let’s look at the main culprits here:
- Christmas Day / Leftovers Boxing Day
- Work Christmas Party
- Partners Work Christmas Party
- New Year’s Eve
My advice is pick 1-2 of them and enjoy. Just because you get invited somewhere doesn’t mean you have to go all out, you can quite easily just consume higher protein options, with a lot of fibrous vegetables to keep your calories relatively low so that you can save them for the bigger events.
If you are on a fat loss program then as I mentioned early, keep your long term outcome in mind. You will have to be more focused on what you consume even with the battles you choose to partake in to ensure you either stay in a calorie deficit or at least not go into too great a surplus. If you genuinely need to overindulge to enjoy yourself then there’s potentially deeper issues that need addressing.
You can use a calorie bank method which I outline in detail in my book “How to Feel Great Naked”. Structuring your week in such a manner you can ensure you stay in a calorie deficit if fat mitigation is the goal.
The beauty of understanding about macronutrients and overall energy balance is that you can manipulate your nutrition plan to ensure you still achieve your long term goals and can enjoy the holidays, which is what all my online clients are able to do. Massive Win.
3. Be honest with yourself
Let’s face it, regardless of how much I tell you that you can avoid eating like an asshole and you can manipulate your caloric intake as to ensure you don’t go overboard you are still likely due to peer pressure or otherwise going to indulge at some point.
So I advise you be completely honest with yourself and don’t beat yourself up about it. Just as we know 1 workout won’t give us incredible results, 1 meal or event won’t entirely break us.
If you eat too many cinnamon cookies … Enjoy them.
If you aim to eat a couple of Lindt chocolate balls and end up eating the whole box (Guilty pleasure) … I salute you.
Just don’t for the love of god make Christmas a holiday you look back on and regret because of the choices you made. If you think you will go overboard then plan ahead and set yourself a mini Christmas goal of only eating say 4 cookies rather than 8, or 1 slice of cake rather than half of that fucker.
Whatever you decide to do know that the outcome and your choices are on you and you alone. Regardless of which option you choose, ensure you get in a decent amount of protein in early in the day, some vegetables with your main meal and enjoy.
Lastly from me I wish you a very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!