So once again the year has come round and it’s nearly bloody Christmas already!! It genuinely only seems like yesterday it was March and Spring was appearing.
I’ll be honest though, I LOVE this time of year, i’ve counted down from 100 days! The food, the festivities, the crap (read: amazing) films and the general excitedness that it brings pretty much everywhere, but mostly the food! 🙂
However if you’re a health conscious individual (which I have no doubt you are if you’re reading this blog) it always bears a slight tinge of fear that our goals may fall off track. Or maybe that we won’t be in a good place with our goals, or our bodies, after the festivities than where we’d like to be.
I think we all need to get a bit damn more realistic…
Establish realism, don’t get fantastical
Fantastical because I think it describes Christmas well… But fantastical because you might be fantasizing about perfection…
The sheer amount of parties with work, the social outings outside of work, family get-togethers and, admittedly, much larger than average food intake and portion sizes.
How hard is it realistically to stick to any sort of goal when we’re surrounded not just by the biggest amount of peer pressure you’ll get all year, but most likely 90% of the population of the country will probably be doing some sort of celebrating. How can you stick your goals exactly like you have when there’s no social occasions going on.
It’s no surprise actually that you get to January and you’re not just pissed off with the lack of exercise or healthy choices that you made, but potentially pissed off that you didn’t enjoy yourself as much as you could have done. This could be through hopeful restriction in hope that our goals for a banging body still hold, or missing out on a social gathering with mates to hit the gym for an extra hour a day to ‘burn’ off that mince pie (x5).
If you go ahead and search google or Instagram you’ll find a tonne of experts touting various strategies and nutritional plans for you to stick to your goals and come out with a great body. But sadly this sets the expectations wrong right off the bat with a negative mindset.
We shouldn’t be reacting to what we do by punishing ourselves to go to the gym.
We shouldn’t be setting an expectation at the WORST time of year that we can still be perfect and aim to hit a ‘plan’.
I’m being honest, this IS the worst time of year for nutrition. If you start December with an expectation you can hit everything perfectly, or that you can make significant strides towards your goals, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
One extra mince pie than you agreed and you think, ‘screw it’ – binge mode.
One extra drink at the christmas party and you think- ‘Oh what the hell’ in that emotional high of enjoyment. Binge night.
I’d like to say it’s not the binging that’s bad, it’s the initial expectation you set.
The minute you think you’ve broken the rules you may just purposefully open the flood gates as you now think you’ve broken the diet indefinitely, so why even bother.
However, frame your mindset correctly and move the focus to the things we can control, and our goals start to think a bit better.
Frame it right, enjoy it more
You’re a healthy individual right? So let’s think back to last year and think about what we did.
Did we miss some workouts? For sure, not an issue – expected.
Did we put on some weight? Yeah, most likely, that’s cool.
Did you eat a fuck-tonne? Didn’t we all!?
Now how can we improve on that…?
Well, we’ve already agreed (haven’t we) that it’s fine to indulge, and it’s fine to drink some booze. We don’t want to be labelled boring for swerving a drink or a mince pie in the aim of perfection do we?
In fact, one thing I’ve probably done more this year than last is drink alcohol and I’m in FAR better shape. OK, I probably have booze once every month/two months now. But the year before I only had 3 occasions I got a bit merry and touched alcohol at all and I was in worse shape last year. It’s not the booze. It’s the lifestyle…
So how about this year we look at progress not on a linear scale and instead look at progress in our lifestyle… Who dictated that if we’re not losing weight that we’re not making progress. Or if we’re not growing muscle then we aren’t making progress. Fuck that. Progress is bigger than that. It can look like this instead:
If you missed workouts last year – let’s not miss as many.
If we indulged a little too much last year for comfort then let’s figure out where we indulged the most and create control in those settings.
If you gained weight let’s aim to gain a bit less weight this year.
Now can you see how we can put progress within the chaos, whilst allowing room to enjoy ourselves?
This is the key to creating a healthy lifestyle and are skills that I guarantee if you learn you’ll come into Christmas next year in much better mindset and shape.
Indulging in moderation, controlling situations that are hard to control, taking accountability and setting the right expectations. Key skills you can use and apply to actually enjoy life but become more healthy along the way.
Don’t aim for perfection – aim for progress, aim for being in control.
Don’t try and aim for perfection.
It’s a great trait to have if you can achieve perfection in the things you seek.
But we need to establish a sense of realism. This IS the hardest time of year for goals.
But wouldn’t you agree… It’s the most fun, exciting, pleasant time of year. I think so anyway.
So let’s focus on what we can control – let’s focus on our absolute key habits we know.
Let’s keep getting enough water.
Let’s not let the gym go completely unvisited.
Keep food quality high when we can. Hell, even Christmas dinner can have great veg!
Keep getting your sleep at levels to promote recovery.
Keep your stress levels right. Not too much, not too little.
Go in with the right expectations….
There are SO many things we can do over this fun time of year. If you do it right actually these are skills that can propel you into launching that new year’s goal into the atmosphere and set you up for the great lifestyle you can lead next year. Not one point in this article have we mentioned not to over-consume, or not to drink, or to avoid putting on weight. This is just being realistic.
If you want to track your calories over this time of year identify how much more over your average weekly calorie intake you think you’ll be.
Then, tale this number and subtract from your current weekly intake. Then go ahead and recalculate your daily calories and macros as appropriate.
You’ve just pretty much accounted for the occasions we’re going to encounter. Sure, if you don’t deviate as much you may be a little hungrier if we have a smaller intake now but how less stressful is this situation now you know we’ve actually accounted for treats outside our macros and calories. If you are hungry I’m very sure there are ways this time of year you can find some good food to treat or nourish yourself with.
This IS being in control.
I recall last year being boring as hell, at least for me in social situations anyway.
Christmas is a time of year where we should be able to look back and recall the experience we had as one to cherish, one to be happy for.
So understand you won’t be perfect this holiday period. Know that you shouldn’t chase perfection either.
Progress is definitely something you can still come away with.
You can be in control of every decision. In fact, give yourself permission. The minute you restrict is when you’ll succumb the most.
But the moment you’re in control you can come out the situation and time of year in a happier mindset.
Hopefully this article has given a few things to consider or tools to use for your winter time off! 🙂
Until next time, Team.
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