Welcome to the holidays my friend! For the next week or so, you’ll be busy running around to holiday parties, new year’s events, and last minute errands in-between. Even though it feels like we’ve stepped out of real life for a couple of days, it’s crucial to remember your goals! My recommendations stay consistent over big holidays: DON’T give yourself crazy dietary restrictions and DO have a plan to return to your normal healthy lifestyle when the holiday is over.
Because Christmas and New Years are only a week away, it can be very easy to fall into the mentality of ‘giving yourself a rest’ for a week and picking back up on January 1st. There is a reason that this mentality is EASY! You’re giving yourself an out for an entire week with a vision of yourself starting right back up again come 2020. Here’s a question: How motivated will you be to get back into exercising and healthy eating after an ENTIRE WEEK OFF?? Friend, please don’t sabotage yourself. The magic of a habit is that it feels more strange not to do the thing than to do it! In order to reach that status, consistency is key.
So how do we reconcile the flexibility of a holiday with the consistency that’s required to accomplish your goal? You have a plan for yourself as you walk into Christmas and you have a plan for yourself when you walk out. And keep in mind that this holiday is a little ‘riskier’ than others; with Christmas spanning over two-days, there is a higher risk of jumping ship on your health goals on this holiday over others. Just review these tips & tricks BEFORE THE HOLIDAY to continue your progress (and results) throughout the festivities:
- Remember the lessons you learned on Thanksgiving!
We just experienced a big holiday less than a month ago; what did you learn about the ways that the foods you ate affected you? Were there decisions or events that made it easier or more difficult to get back on track the day after? Were you intentional about returning to your goals? If not, what got in your way? It’s amazing how much easier it is to avoid making the same mistakes when we take only a minute to reflect on what has or hasn’t worked in the past.
- Are there foods that you know you should avoid no matter what?
I don’t mean cookies and pie because they’re full of sugar…UNLESS you know that you’ll jump right down the rabbit hole if you have sweet treats. As an example, I know that my body can handle small amounts of gluten at a time. Will I have a donut Christmas morning? You better believe it! Will I have the insanely delicious-looking pasta dish for dinner? No, that I’ll have to pass on because I know what happens when I experience gluten-overload: My stomach will hurt for days and as soon as it feels better, I’ll have a rush of cravings. The 10-minutes of enjoyment that I would get out of that yummy pasta just doesn’t hold up against the negative outcomes that can last for days afterwards. DON’T IGNORE PAST EXPERIENCE! We just went through Thanksgiving where you may have noticed the ways different foods affect you; remember those lessons as you enter Christmas so that you’re setting yourself up for success as you enjoy the holiday.
- Can you incorporate exercise into Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day?
Often times, we find ourselves making dietary decisions that we usually don’t when we feel separated from our goals. Holidays are distracting! It’s easy to have tunnel vision on all things Christmas, and all the things you’re doing for others. But please, don’t forget about yourself! Even just incorporating a short walk/jog around the block or a quick workout video the morning of Christmas Eve can be a great way to remind yourself that your goals are still your goals during the holidays! And being proactive about your health when you know you’ll be walking into a day with more flexible nutritional guidelines will help to align your decisions with your goal of where you want to be when Christmas ends and the New Year begins.
- Be very clear about the habits that you’re practicing.
As promised, check out my top 3 habits for improving your health at the bottom of this email. These are all habits that can be incorporated into your life that direct your decisions without causing massive dietary restrictions; more accurately, these habits do not cause any dietary restrictions. Habits are all about building new healthy behaviors, not getting rid of unhealthy behaviors. Whichever habit you choose to start with, remember that these habits should be practiced daily! Even through the holidays. This doesn’t step on any of the other recommendations because guess what? You can still focus on hydrating while also having dessert. You can still focus on eating protein without skipping that cheese-filled casserole. And when you leave Christmas and walk into December 26th, you can wake up knowing that you prioritized your habits without missing out. Clarity is king! It’s impossible to know whether or not you did a good job without clearly knowing what it is that you’re trying to do a good job with.
- Take control over the meals you’re able to.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Christmas is not the time to cut out sugar or carbs. Maybe you’ve already committed to avoiding all desserts and maybe that’s worked for you in the past. If that’s the case, you do you! Otherwise, placing restrictions on what you can and cannot eat over the holidays is a trap – it’s just too easy to fail and the internal damage caused by breaking a commitment to yourself is way more harmful than those couple pieces of pie on Christmas night. And here’s how you can allow yourself to make decisions that you normally wouldn’t: You control the meals you can. Meaning, before you go to dinner at your Grandma’s on Christmas Eve, you eat a healthy, balanced lunch with protein and veggies. No matter what Grandma serves, you know that you already ate a well-balanced meal. This avoids the trap of walking in starving, and scarfing down anything and everything in sight.
- Enjoy the damn day!
Christmas comes around only once a year folks! Enjoy the traditions, foods and drinks! One day will not undo the weeks and months of work that you’ve put into your health.
- Return to your normal eating & exercise plan on December 26th.
When you know that you’re returning to your normal eating and exercise guidelines on December 26th, your perspective changes, therefore, your decisions change: Which leftovers to bring home, how much you drink that night, how late you stay up. Again, this isn’t about prioritizing your health MORE THAN the holidays, it’s about prioritizing your health throughout the holidays. Prior to Christmas, have a plan for yourself for the day after: schedule your workout into your calendar, set an alarm, plan an exercise session with a friend, whatever you have to do to be intentional and committed to returning to your health plans on Thursday. This is possibly the most important recommendation because your behaviors on the 26th will generally reflect your behaviors through the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you do not commit to specific behaviors that you’ll return to on Thursday, it will be very, very difficult to shift out of the holiday-mindset with New Year’s right around the corner. Avoid this trap!!
This sequence of tips can be recycled for the week of New Year’s: know your plan going in, clarify your priorities, enjoy the holiday, then return to your normally scheduled programming the next day. We are walking into a brand new decade and you decide if 2020 will be the beginning of something new, or the continuation of old behaviors.