It’s holiday season.
There’s more food around, there’s more socials and you’re being told to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ in every second conversation you have.
Is it even possible to stay on track during this time of year?
I’ll begin by saying this, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be 100% on track during this time of year.
This isn’t permission to go crazy, however, I’m always going to be more lenient around birthday’s, Christmas and the once a year or once in a lifetime occasions.
My personal approach will usually entail being a lot more relaxed on the 24th, 25th & 26th.
I may even opt for a more relaxed approach throughout the festivities during this season and the main reason for this is that I’ve spent the other 11 months preceding December keeping my nutrition in check.
It comes back to the infamous ‘Instagram’ quote that you’ll see popping up soon.
‘You should be less concerned about how you’re going to handle one or two weeks around the holiday period and be more focused on how you’re going to develop good habits during the other 50 weeks or so.’
It couldn’t be more true.
2 weeks makes up for roughly 4% of the year and I’m willing to bet if you’re largely on point for 80-85% of the year, you’re going to be just fine.
How do I approach this with my clients?
This ultimately comes down to the individual and the approach they want to take.
There will be those who tell me, ‘my goal is the most important thing, I’m happy to celebrate later when I’ve reached my goal.’
Then there will be those who tell me, ‘I really want to take a relaxed approach.’
In this case it’s all about defining what a ‘relaxed approach’ actually is.
Personally, I believe that outside of the key dates, 24th, 25th, 26th ,potentially the 31st and 1st Jan.
There isn’t a huge reason to deviate.
Perhaps you add 1-2 days for various Christmas parties etc, so realistically we’re looking at 7 days when you’re going to be off plan and enjoying the seasonal food and drinks.
Not a huge amount of time, right?
If you were thinking that this time of year was a right off, think again.
Does this mean I have permission to eat whatever I want on those 7 days?
I would always advise eating mindfully and practising good portion control.
And what does that look like?
Well, here are some simple examples…
It means a couple of drinks, as opposed to getting drunk.
It means leaving your plate with a little bit of white space showing, as opposed to having a plate piled up with pigs in blankets and potatoes.
It means a few chocolates, rather than the entire box.
Not too much to ask, right?
What if I wanted to really limit the damage?
If you wanted to enjoy these key days but minimise the impact it’s going to have on the scales and your physique, I would utilise the safety net approach…
In the lead up, try pulling back 150-300 calories for around 4-5 days.
If you did this, you’d have an extra 1500 to distribute across the 24th-26th, leaving you with a lot more to play with.
You can even go one step further and throw in some cardio, let’s say you burn 300 calories during this session, you theoretically now have 1800 extra to utilise on the key days.
Even if you do end up overeating, you’ve got an 1800 calorie safety net that will help keep the average down from a weekly perspective.
The second option you have if you’re just looking to get involved on the 25th would look like a one day safety net…
On the day prior, you’d simply pull back by 500-600 calories, throw in some additional cardio for good measure and then simply utilise these on the one day and revert back to the plan thereafter.
This is the type of approach I’d use for a birthday, wedding etc.
So, this helps the person who wants to be a little more intentional…
What about the person who wants to be relaxed?
The first thing I like to remind my clients is that, it’s their choice.
If you do choose to go wild, it’s totally fine by me, as long as you’re willing to accept the repercussions.
There’s pros and cons to going wild, there’s pros and cons to taking a more mindful approach.
The overriding message is that it’s your decision and whatever decision you make - own it.
The last thing we want is guilt, frustration, conflict etc.
There's one more thing worth mentioning...
There’s no doubt that the holiday period is heavily centred around food.
However, the holidays should be about the time you spend with family, loved ones, making the most of the ability to wind down, destress and reflect after a busy and long year.
I came up with a quote, that really summarises this point and will aid as a good reminder for you during this period.
‘If you take away the food from Christmas or any other holiday, you can still have a celebration with your loved ones.
If you take away your loved ones from a Christmas or any other holiday, you just have yourself with seasonal food.’
Always keep in mind what this time of year is truly about.
Make a decision, own it and enjoy the holidays!