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A part of a lasting health and fitness journey is knowing how to navigate events and holiday periods.

And by staying on track I mean, keeping your healthy body and lifestyle goals in a place where you don’t go backwards! Because we all want to start 2023 on a positive note.

In a healthy and fitness lifestyle there is a constant push and pull – we want to enjoy ourselves and have balance but we also don’t want to throw our chances of success out the window. So this post is all about finding that balance

I’ll start with my general outlook on lifestyle goals relating to mindset, diet and exercise, and then in the second half of the video I will be more specific on how to handle Christmas day if you’re really disciplined and want to stay on track as much as possible.

Let’s start on the mindset front as this is always a foundational element.

MINDSET TIPS

My biggest one is probably not what you would expect but it’s what I push onto my clients aggressively – you need to enjoy the holiday period.

And by enjoy, I mean, take care of yourself.

Know that you don’t need to eat shit and cut loose in order to do that. In fact, if you don’t, you will start 2023 inspired, rather than suffering a swollen gut, and neuroinflammation and disappointment in yourself.

So, relax! But take care of you while you do so.

For most people, Christmas is the only time you have in the whole year where EVERYONE is in holiday mode. You can really relax, spend time with family and friends and kick back.

It’s not a time for trying to be perfect and then beating yourself up for not doing so.

If it’s possible to take a break, this is what I recommend. If it’s not, I will share my recommendations in Part 2 of this post. 

PART 1 – GENERAL TIPS

Don’t plan to miss out

I often have women saying how they ‘only need one treat’ on Christmas day, but this never works out. I have believed this on multiple occasions, but the truth is that most people will overeat and exercise less whilst on holidays.

We are habitual creatures, and once the routine goes, so does the food and exercise. And most often, you are the only one in your family unit that is interested in being ‘healthy’ during this time.

So after years of coaching I have learned that the best thing for my clients to do over Christmas is take a break, and this means different things depending on their goals.

So we want confirm the following; 

  • How important are your goals right now? How closely do you need to stick with it?
  • Where do you want to be in the new year? Are you hoping for a change of some kind? And is this change requiring you not to start the new year with a food baby and a hangover?
  • Is it possible for you to take a break from your rigid routine? Are you on a strict diet (for example a competition prep), or can you take a short break for the sake of balance?

For someone on a fat-loss diet, assuming they aren’t competing or reaching a deadline, I put them back to maintenance calories for at least one week leading into christmas. I then keep the calories at maintenance until they are returning to their ‘usual routine’. This gives time for the body to refuel, hunger hormones to rebalance a little so that when the gates open on christmas day, they aren’t feeling famished. It also gives the body a break from dieting at a time where the most enjoyment and flexibility can be found.

Regardless, I don’t ask my clients to track Christmas day.

Always remember that an important part of a healthy lifestyle is balance and enjoyment. Not tracking food or worrying about what you’re eating every day of your life is what BALANCE is.

Binge drinking or binge eating is on the other side of the spectrum. So balance is when you eat differently than normal, maybe have a few drinks, but then pull it back to a health-focussed lifestyle again.

Look into other ways to be active

Another thing that is super common is clients will stress over where a gym is, but when we actually reflect on their holiday they will be hiking, swimming, playing with the kids all day and otherwise being much more active than normal.

And, they never make it to the gym unless this is a key part of their marriage, and in most cases it’s not. So why plan for it if you’re not going to make it? This just opens space for disappointment and self-deprecation.

I encourage my clients to use that week as a rest week from the gym, partly because rest weeks are great for the nervous system and also hard to enforce during normal routine, but also because it’s good for the soul.

But I don’t encourage inactivity.

So you might be getting the point that what I am wanting you to learn is balance, and releasing the pressure on yourself. If you’re on holidays, allow yourself to be on holidays

And know that you don’t go backwards quickly. It takes quite a few days of eating over calories to actually gain body fat, if losing fat is where you’re at right now. 

PART 2 – SPECIFIC TIPS

This part of the video is for those of you who are going to be sticking to the plan, continuing with your gym routine and deliberately staying on track (I have a few clients who are competition prepping, and others who don’t celebrate Christmas, so this is for you).

Let’s look at how you can navigate Christmas day

When deciding how to approach a food-filled day, we want to consider; 

  1. Your hunger hormones
  2. Your blood sugar, and
  3. Your goals. 

With your goals, we already know that you want to be strict so that’s checked off.

Then we want to approach the day in a way that increases the chance of success, and to do that you need to make choices that work in alignment with your hormones.

Food wise, the most popular situation (and best case scenario) is that you have a Christmas lunch. The recommendation here is that you have a really high protein breakfast, like steak or chicken or eggs, something that will fill you up. Add heaps of veggies as well! But keep the carbohydrates low.

From there, when you get to lunch, you want to stick with your high protein, salad and veggie style of eating. I wouldn’t put a cap on how much you can eat here (or what), as the chances of you nibbling on junk all afternoon are high if you struggle with discipline. So don’t avoid the potato salad, pasta salad, or gravy, just eat and enjoy the christmas food.

So in summary, start the day with protein, thus leaving a lot more fat and carb macros for the christmas food. Then you want to eat until you’re full, so that you aren’t hungry all afternoon whilst staring at chips, lollies, cake and biscuits!

For the rest of the day, listen to your body. It’s highly likely you are going to be so full and not have any interest in the nibbles

So that’s the easiest way to get through your Christmas day.

If you have lunch and dinner, or breakfast and lunch, you’re just going to have to be more mindful but the best thing, hands down, is to avoid the packet snacks. It is very hard to do damage if you eat whole foods, you can overeat, but the body in a satiated state won’t reach for packet chips.

If you can squeeze in a walk after eating that would be great as well, as this will help bring the blood sugar back down.

And, if you’re training still, most gyms are 24/7 so I would recommend training before you have breakfast. If you aren’t able to train on Christmas day then ensure you fit that session on another day that week.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

So those are my tips regarding keeping on track over Christmas! I hope they help you in some way, remember to keep the balance but also be mindful of your long term goals!

Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

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