Healthy Christmas Tips
It’s that time of year when a little madness attempts to creep in. The commercial pressure to buy expensive and often unnecessary gifts for every person your’ve ever meet but hardly ever see. The “I have to buy for them….they always buy for me” mentality. Keep it simple and focus on what Christmas means to you. For many it’s religious, for others it’s a holiday, for me it’s about family. All in all, you can and should enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy being with family and going out with friends. You can go to holiday parties and have fun. You can enjoy a few “naughty” meals. You can have a piece of cake and a glass or two of champagne. It’s not an either, or situation, because you can have both. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself AND stay healthy, lean and fit through Christmas. All it takes is a little bit of mindfulness, planning, and discipline. Here are my top ten ultimate healthy Christmas tips to help you follow your diet and stay in great shape over the Christmas period without being an “anti-social Scrooge.”
Healthy Christmas Tip 1 – Examine Your Beliefs and Expectations about the Holidays
Surprisingly, most people actually make a conscious decision to give up over the holidays. Most have the belief that they have no control or choice in the matter, that they will “blow” their nutrition and they will skip their workouts over Christmas. They expect to eat more, exercise less and gain weight. As a result, they don’t even make the effort.
Instead of taking control, they give it away and assume the victim mentality. This negative expectancy leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the first week of January, they’re in the worst shape they’ve been in for a year and they frantically make New Year’s resolutions to shed the excess fat they’ve gained.
Believe you can continue to progress, improve and succeed during the holidays. Set up positive expectations and resolve now that you will not tolerate slipping backwards. Keep your standards up and don’t settle! Not only can you plan to “stay in shape” over the holidays, you can plan to improve! All you have to do is make the decision and expect success.
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Healthy Christmas Tip 2 – Schedule your training ahead of time
Your schedule is going to get hectic over the holidays, and you know it. You’ll be cooking, shopping, wrapping gifts, sending cards, going to parties, traveling, visiting family, and so on. Staying on your training and nutrition program is definitely going to take some skills, but it’s worth it.
If you try to “wing it” and squeeze in your workouts and meals whenever you have time left over, you’ll find that there’s never any time left over! Somehow your daily activities always seem to “expand” to fill the hours in every day. Plan your nutrition and workouts in advance. Anticipate what’s coming up. Make time for yourself and put it on your calendar. By doing so, you won’t be caught unprepared.
Healthy Christmas Tip 3 – Set your Holiday Goals
Why wait? Set some big goals that you can start working on during the holidays. Goal setting should not be a once a year deal, it is a continuous process. You should always have your goals in writing and they should be regularly updated and rewritten. People who only set goals once a year are not going to accomplish much in their life.
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Healthy Christmas Tip 4 – Enjoy your “social meals”
A planned “social meal” helps you to stay on your program better in the long run. If you’re too strict all the time, you’re setting yourself up for cravings and bingeing.
A single meal will have very little effect on your physique. If you’ve been on a disciplined program for a while, a full day of maintenance calories could actually be good for you! It will boost your metabolic rate and give your body the signal that you’re not starving and that it’s ok to keep burning a lot of calories.
On Christmas day, leave space in your calories for your dinners and parties, so they become your “social meals.” Then, for the rest of your meals, eat healthy quality foods as you would normally. Just the fact that you know you have social meals coming up will relieve the pressure of staying on a strict diet for a long time.
Also, when you do have your social meal – ENJOY IT! If you’re going to eat it and feel guilty, then don’t have it at all. If you’ve stayed with the program all week long, then when your social meal rolls around, you deserve it!
Don’t “pig out”, but don’t deprive yourself. Instead, be content with eating a single piece, savoring every mouthwatering bite, all the while remembering that nothing tastes as good as being lean and healthy.
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Healthy Christmas Tip 5 – If you fall off the wagon, get right back on it
So you had about a dozen too many of those Christmas cookies did you? Don’t worry; because all you have to do is get right back on your program without missing another beat.
Too many people mess up once and then think their entire day is ruined. Then, they feel as if everything they’ve done prior to that day was wasted and there’s no sense going on. They rationalize to themselves, “Well, I already messed up, so it doesn’t matter now, I might as well keep pigging out.”
That’s nonsense. If you threw in the towel every time you didn’t score 100% on your nutrition, most people would never get through more than a few days on any transformation. Just because you slip up once doesn’t mean you should quit! You’re only human. Don’t let one small slip keep you derailed. Firmly plant your wheels back on the tracks and start rolling again.
Healthy Christmas Tip 6 – Stay Consistent
If there’s one thing that all people who successfully get lean and stay lean have in common, it’s consistency. Without it, you never get any momentum going. It’s like taking two steps forward, only to take three steps back.
Many people allow the busy Holidays to throw them off their regular eating schedule. They completely veer off their usual meal frequency, or they start eating foods they would normally never eat, because “it’s there.”
Once you have a habit pattern going, it’s fairly easy to keep it going. But once you lose momentum, it’s very difficult to get it going again because you must overcome inertia all over again. (An object at rest tends to stay at rest)
On the major holidays, when there’s a big dinner scheduled, many people think that skipping their morning and afternoon meals to “save room” for the big one later is a good idea. It’s not. This is actually a good way to invite a binge that could set your back for days.
Healthy Christmas Tip 7 – Be Mindful of Portion Sizes.
You can have your cake and eat it too – just don’t eat the whole thing! There’s no reason to deprive yourself of things you enjoy. Just make sure you stay mindful of how much you’re eating. As long as you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, and you keep working out, it won’t end up around your waistline.
Healthy Christmas Tip 8 – Be Strong
Be strong with your nutritional standards, and don’t expect other people’s standards to be as high as yours. Remember that most people have already planned in advance to fail at fitness over the holidays. You’ve decided to stay strong, so don’t let their negative influence drag you down.
When you’ve reached your pre-determined drink limit, say “When” and switch to water or a non alcoholic, non caloric beverage. When they offer you seconds on dessert, politely say, “No thank you, it was absolutely delicious, but I’m full, I can’t eat another bite.” And when the wee hours of the morning start to roll around, and your friends are egging you on to keep partying, politely tell them you need your sleep. Tomorrow is a work out day. If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand.
Healthy Christmas Tip 9 – Choose Wisely
You know those tables you see at holiday parties that are covered with yards of chips, dips, pretzels, cookies, salami, candies, punch, liquor, and a seemingly endless assortment of other goodies? Well, did you also notice that there is usually a tray full of carrot sticks, cauliflower, celery and other healthy snacks too?
No matter where you are, you always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. If nothing else, you can choose to eat a small portion of something “bad” rather than a huge portion.
Chances are good that there’s probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. As you know, lean proteins and fibrous carbs are a great for getting lean, so fill up on the turkey breast, try to get a vegetable in there, and go easy on the desserts.
Healthy Christmas Tip 10 – Drink Wisely
If you enjoy having a few drinks on special occasions, then go ahead and have a drink or two. But if you’re serious about your fitness goals, you must drink infrequently and in moderation. Alcohol puts fat oxidation on hold while providing a large amount of calories. When there’s alcohol in your bloodstream, any food in your system will be shoved to the side and stored as fat.
I’ve never met anyone in my life that was truly serious about health and fitness who was a heavy drinker. Alcohol and muscles just don’t mix.
The impact goes beyond added body fat; your energy levels and workouts can be ruined for days after a night of heavy drinking. A glass of wine actually has some health benefits. But there’s NEVER any never reason or excuse for binge drinking or getting drunk.
So go ahead and toast to the New Year, but know when to say when.
A common pattern, especially every November and December, is the “I’ll start when” mind-set. For some reason, three holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s—somehow translate into six weeks of nonstop dietary havoc. It’s important to put this in proper perspective. It’s really only three days you have to deal with. In fact, it’s only a few meals. Enjoy the holiday food in moderation. The rest of the season it’s training and nutritious eating as usual. If you catch yourself saying, “I’ll start when I get past the holidays,” be careful, because that kind of thinking usually extends far beyond January 1, and you’ll always be looking to start when conditions are just right. They never are.
There’s no reason to let your exercise and nutrition program spoil your holidays, but there’s also no reason to let your holidays spoil your exercise and nutrition program! Put these healthy Christmas tips into practice and you can start the year off with pride and progress, instead of guilt and regret.