My top tips for Christmas
At this time of year when Christmas is a week away it’s really common to start panicking about what you should be doing with your food, exercise & routine & worry that the festive period is going to take you right off track.
Earlier in the week I did a Zoom training call for all my team about how to balance your food, training & mindset over the holidays. At the beginning of the call I asked everyone to let me know how they were feeling about Christmas;
Those were the answers I got. Now in total honesty, I wasn’t too surprised to hear those feelings. Being a coach I’ve worked through this time of year many times with lots of different clients & at some point everyone will feel this way about Christmas. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right to feel like that or that you should.
What I want to help you with is feeling like you know what you’re doing so that you can have some downtime, switch off & relax & know it’s ok at this time of year to have a bit more flexibility & actually enjoy the festive period. Not feel like Christmas is going to be the demise of your fitness journey!
Feeling confident & happy at this time of year is something we should all feel. I like to remind my clients that as much as health & fitness is important Christmas is about family time, spending time with those you maybe don’t get the chance to see so often & making memories. If much of that is centred around food & drink then so be it, there’s more important things in life than training!
So, if you’re feeling worried about Christmas here are a few of my top tips broken down into areas that I wanted to run through with you to help you feel more in control during this time;
1-Focus on your mindful habits; you’ve built some good habits this year with your food approach so use them! A bit more flexibility is ok but listen to your body; if you’re hungry eat if not, don’t! Do you really need that extra mince pie? Be mindful of portion size as that will help you to not hugely overconsume too. If you're really aware of how you're feeling around food that is going to be massive to keep you in control & feeling positive.
2-If the 80/20 balance goes a bit more 50/50 that’s ok! It’s not like this is going to be your new way of eating for life. A couple of days where the balance is a bit tipped towards the yummier, higher calorie foods won’t do you any harm! Just be aware if you’ve had a couple of days of doing that to start to incorporate a few more 80 foods back in, add some more colour in so that you get back into eating well & feeling good.
3-Do not track. Christmas time is not for you to be sitting in the corner tracking how many calories your eggnog has in it. We all know at this time of year we will be eating more calories than we need & more than normal so there’s no need to put that into my fitness pal & beat yourself up for consuming 4000 calories. It doesn’t mean that you can just have a total hall pass but Christmas food & drink is to be enjoyed & if you’re calorie counting 24/7 that’s not going to happen.
4-Bank your day. This is something I use with my clients for social occasions & meals out. Calorie banking. If you know you’re going to be having a big meal later on in the day or out at night then be mindful of that. Put away say 1000 calories for your meal (if you’re having dinner out & a couple of drinks realistically it will be more than that) & save that so you can enjoy yourself. Then through the day eat as you normally do but just be mindful of keeping your meals slightly lower on calories to allow for more room in the evening. Best way to do that is to reduce your carbohydrate intake a little on each meal & keep the protein high so you are still getting good food into you & have energy through the day but the calories don’t go crazy. Keeping protein high will keep you full too & at this time of year finding protein shouldn't be too hard.
5-Be mindful when it comes to alcohol. We know we’re likely going to be drinking more than normal which is ok! Like I said at the start a few days over the Christmas period with a bit more flexibility than normal is ok! Obviously, if you’re drinking more you’ll end up taking on more calories so just be aware of your choices especially if you’re trying to maintain your weight over Christmas. A gin & slim vs a baileys would be a smart swap to keep you from going crazily over your calories. If you are drinking more then just be aware of how you’re going to feel as well. Remember drinking will affect your energy, hunger & mindset so just factor that in! You want to be feeling good over Christmas, positive & having fun not like a slug!
6-Ultimately food is a huge part of Christmas so enjoy it. It’s there to be enjoyed so do that! A few extra pigs in blankets, roast potatoes & chocolates aren’t going to destroy everything you’ve worked hard for all year! If you use the tips above, allow yourself to have the flexibility & know that's ok you’re going to find it much easier to enjoy your food at Christmas & feel in control.
1-Best tip is to keep active! Walking is one of the best forms of exercise out there. It’s great for headspace too & when we’ve probably spent much of the past few days of Christmas sat down eating & drinking it’s going to feel good to move! Walking is obviously going to give you a bit of cardio too so make the most of this time of year & having the opportunity to walk more. Your fitness will thank you. If your goals are weight focused then remember how important keeping your step count & activity high is! This is probably one of the most important things over Christmas when you’ve eaten more to maintain where you’re at & feel good. if you've eaten more then get out & walk more!
2-You don’t necessarily HAVE to be training or hitting the gym that’s total personal preference. It’s something I’ve chatted through with all my riders & for most knowing that the option to just switch off, have a break & do nothing is ok has been really empowering. For me, I enjoy this time of year as with less work pressure I like to train as I have more time. I won’t be rigid with what I do but training makes me feel good so I will keep going but just have a bit more fun with my sessions. Shorter sessions that get my HR up but don’t leave me on the floor! If you want to just rest then cool that’s good. You’ve worked hard all year & taking regular training breaks is important. Your body needs rest & most often a week off gets you coming back feeling stronger & more energised than before! There is no right or wrong here
3-If you have more time/less work use it to do things you enjoy/don’t usually get the chance to. Maybe you’ve wanted to try a park run or do that big hike so go do it & enjoy! This time of year is a great chance to find what else you might enjoy & try new things.
4-Be flexible. If you want to train but maybe aren’t at home be flexible with your approach. If you normally train at the gym but won’t be able to get to one then why not take a couple of resistance bands with you & train from home for a few days. It will be a great way to still get your sessions in if you want to train & mixing it up training from home might actually give you a few new ideas for your sessions moving forwards too.
5-Be realistic with your expectations. If you’re eating more than normal, training less consistently, drinking a bit more, sleeping a bit less your energy isn’t going to be sky high so be realistic with how you’re expecting to perform & feel in training. For most training around Christmas is simply about maintaining so don’t necessarily be expecting to go & smash any huge PBs. Some of you may which is awesome but for most, it will be a period of maintenance more than anything else & exercising for enjoyment & to feel good.
1-Do not weigh yourself over the holidays, I mean just don’t, it’s not going to help you feel good about yourself, is it?
2-We all know we’ll eat more than normal like I said earlier, so chances are you’re going to be heavier or feel a bit bloated compared to pre Christmas. The majority of that weight will be water retention. Remember for every gram of carbohydrate you eat the body stores 3g of water so you’ll definitely end up heavier down to food & drink choices. This is normal! You haven't necessarily gained 3kg of body fat so don't stress.
3-Don’t panic. A few more relaxed days during Twixmas are not going to send you off your path entirely. As long as you get back into your good habits after this time & don’t let Christmas turn into January then all is good. It’s simply a few days of flexibility & fun you’re not “off the wagon”.
4-If your goal is weight loss then be realistic with yourself if that should be the goal right now? I wouldn’t advise any of my riders to be pushing for weight loss over Christmas as that is not going to help you enjoy the festivities at all!
MOVING INTO 2023
1-Once January hits it’s just about simply picking up where you left off. Like I said you’ve had a few days of fun which is cool there’s no drama or need to panic now. Focus on getting back into your daily habits & routine, which if you’ve built good ones through this year will happen pretty autonomously. If you find it hard to get back to your routine then just focus on 1 thing at a time, maybe hitting your water intake or step count for the first week then build from there.
2-Make sure you have a focus. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a goal but knowing what you want to achieve or are aiming towards is important. This will help you to have direction, purpose & therefore feel more motivated! If you don’t have that focus it’s easy to feel like you're in limbo land.
3-Set goals by all means but not resolutions. Rarely does anyone actually follow through & stick to their resolutions. This is often because you’re just solely focusing on an end result rather than thinking about the action & behaviour you need to take consistently to make that change happen. Resolutions often come from a negative mindset, this is your resolution to not do this in 2023 because you did this in 2022. Goals that come from a negative place are going to feel restrictive & unenjoyable so look forwards & find a positive goal! I want to work towards getting fitter this year so I can go to Badminton grassroots & ride at my best rather than I need to get fitter this year because I felt so unfit cross country last year. A positive focused goal is going to benefit you far more! 90-day plans are a great time frame to work with too & will take you to the start of the Spring season nicely.
4-Trust your approach & focus on what you're doing. There will be adverts everywhere for the latest shit yourself tea, weight pills, diets & god knows what else. You know they don't work, you know every January the media is full of pushing weight loss so keep in your lane, trust the process & keep moving forwards.
5-Have a balanced mindset! January happens every year. Christmas doesn’t have to be this bomb that explodes and causes chaos & then you’re left picking up the debris for the months after. Allow yourself to have the flexibility, enjoy it & then just focus on getting back into your good habits moving into the new year.
I hope you all have the most wonderful Christmas & hopefully after reading this you’re now feeling a bit more confident & like you can actually enjoy your festive time!
Merry Christmas All!,