Start your holiday survival strategies….now!
Well, it’s official, Christmas is just under 6 weeks away.
Another round of heavy, rich dishes from your aunty Sadie,
Dainties stocked up on every corner of the house,
Eggnog flowing at every opportunity.
It’s a wonderful time of year!
I seriously love it and can’t wait.
But what is a magical time of the year can wreak havoc on your body if not kept in check.
Don’t get me wrong, I think you can enjoy the holidays while staying on track with your goals,
It just takes a few key habits to develop leading into the season.
These habits, when applied consistently and appropriately, can not only make Christmas a time to be enjoyed,
But also a time to continue your pursuit of reclaiming your athletic body.
Last year, we talked about survival tips for the holiday season.
This year, we wanted to take a different approach.
We wanted to show you that by starting your holiday survival strategies now,
You can go into the holidays having already developed the habits necessary for staying on track.
They will already be automatic,
And ready to serve the purpose of keeping you in shape throughout the holidays.
Here are six holiday survival strategies to get started on today.
1. Set your bare-minimums
Regardless of what you do, set some bare minimums for movement and nutrition.
Maybe you typically lift three times per week.
Cool…set your bare minimum at two twenty minute workouts per week.
Maybe you walk 30 minutes per day.
Good for you…but set your bare minimum at 10 minutes per day,
Maybe you do cardio for 30 minutes twice per week.
You’re awesome…but commit to 5 minutes of intervals twice per week instead.
Or maybe you do yoga every other day.
Love it…but set your minimum at 10 minutes of stretching every other day.
Just set some standards of movement and GO.
As far as nutrition is concerned, maybe you eat whatever you want,
but you always make sure to have lean protein and veggies on your plate.
Maybe you commit to no more than one piece of dessert per meal.
Maybe you commit to one alcoholic beverage per gathering.
Do what you need to do.
Just set it and commit to it.
2. Reframe exercise
Just because traditional exercise happens on the field,
or gym doesn’t mean it always has to be there.
This holiday season, try skating at the pond for 30 minutes with your family.
Do a resistance band workout.
Do a bodyweight workout of squats, push-ups and chin-ups in your cousin, Jeffrey’s basement.
Movement is movement baby,
Just rack up those reps.
And avoid that “all-or-none” thinking.
3. Eat slowly
I know we harp on this one all the time,
but it may be the most important habit when it comes to eating what you enjoy and not going off the rails.
It takes about 20 minutes to detect fullness from a meal,
So, put your fork down between bites,
Contribute to the conversation between bites,
Listen and laugh between bites,
Take a sip of water between bites.
Do what you need to do,
Just don’t shovel down food with reckless abandon,
And you’ll be able to detect when you’ve had enough.
You’ll enjoy the food more too!
4. Practice leaving food on the plate
Do you remember how bad it feels to over-eat at a meal?
Not fun, right?
Keep that in mind when practising this habit.
The food gods are not going to rein terror on you if you don’t clean off your plate.
Seriously, you’re allowed to do it.
Maybe you feel wasteful…
Okay, look at it this way.
If you eat the food for fear of wasting it,
Then you convert that food to body fat as a result of eating food beyond what your body needed,
And then you try to burn off the fat,
Aren’t you just getting rid of that food anyway?
Either way, the food is getting wasted, you might as well save yourself the hassle of having to work the fat off your body,
And instead, leave some grub on your plate.
5. Practice taste-testing instead of gluttony
Despite the rationale used above, I hated leaving food on my plate.
I would lick it clean regardless of how full I was.
It almost gave me a sense of fulfilment and closure knowing that the food from my plate had been “taken care of”.
So, I started using the “two-spoons” method…
And it has been a game-changer.
When you’re going around filling your plate with all of the delicious holiday eats,
You can absolutely take whatever you want,
But only take two regular-sized spoonfuls of each dish.
I’ll warn you now, you’ll feel like you’re not getting enough of each food.
Once you’ve done the “two-spoons” method and take a look at your plate,
You’ll see that there is probably enough food there.
This method considers the sum total of the food you dish out,
Instead of each food individually.
This helps keep your plate in check,
And helps those with eyes bigger than their bellies.
6. Chill out, bro
The holiday season is a time to be enjoyed.
A time to be with the ones you love.
A time to “break bread” with the most important people in your life.
So, just relax and enjoy it.
Despite running around to numerous family dinners,
You should feel de-stressed and restored at the end of the holidays.
Take the time to enjoy your family,
Be mindful of your experiences,
Don’t feel guilty about eating pie,
Stressing about your food,
Saying you shouldn’t eat this and that,
And then eating it anyway,
May actually harm your body more than just eating and enjoying the food.
So, cultivate an attitude of self-compassion,
Practice meditation to be mindful of your food and experiences,
And try some breathing to de-stress.
Ease up on the reins there, Voldemort…it’s holiday time.
Practice the one-habit method
Now, there are quite a few habits to work on here.
And as you may remember, attempting to change too many things at once is not always conducive to success.
So, start by picking the habit that most resonates with you,
And take action on it for 1-2 weeks.
Once, you feel comfortable enough with that habit,
Build on it by adding another habit.
And so on,
And so on.
Okay, so let’s be real here.
Even if you don’t lose fat and you simply just maintain over the holidays, that’s a win.
Managing expectations is pretty crucial when it comes to holiday time.
If you have 4 dinners, 100’s of miles to travel and nowhere to workout over the holidays,
maybe don’t set the goal of losing fat.
You may need to get real about holiday maintenance.
And don’t look at this time and think that you’re “pausing” your fat-loss efforts,
You are still working on the habits that can build you a strong, healthy, athletic body that can serve you for years to come.
Even if the scale is not changing,
The mindsets, skills and practices within you are still being developed.
Use the strategies in this article to build those habits, skills and practices leading into- and during the holidays.