Firstly, I would like to make something pretty clear. It's Christmas. It's one day a year and if you fail miserably and over eat, don't track calories and get hammered .... everything's going to be OK.
You may have a little more work to do after, but it isn't the end of the world.
Nobody died ... you enjoyed yourself .... Merry Christmas.
However, if losing weight is something that is vitally important to you then read along.
So that time is upon us again.
The Christmas break.
The time for family, festivity and, most importantly, food.
But for the populations that are counting the calories, keeping an eye on the scales and trying to reduce the dress sizes, it can be a time where we're sceptical about how we're going to pull off enjoying the time without gaining two stone.
Whilst it's common to gain a bit of weight over the holidays, it's not the Christmas day food itself that's to blame.
Often the run up to the big day is a time where we start to relax and start to avoid tracking calories and maintaining a reduced intake The Christmas work parties, the office chocolates, the cold nights where we miss the gym or reduce activity in favour of a warm sofa and a film.
Collectively, it's the choices we make over the two to three weeks that can rack up the energy intake and reduce the output which causes us to add the pounds to our waistline.
It's Christmas though.
A time to relax and unwind. A time for joy and do the things that make us happy and Christmas is only one day. Where I would recommend to halt the indulgence train is the days or weeks that surround the 25th. The complete bender of pigs in blankets, chocolate, cheeses and copious amounts of alcohol can be enjoyed guilt free if it's an important get together.
I do recommend having a day off track for your own sanity and enjoyment. However, stick to the important days and not just the whole of December/early January.
There's a few reasons why I don't agree with the complete Christmas break blowout.
- What is gained is added to what's already to lose. If you're setting out to lose weight then the more you add over this period, the more is added to the end total that's needed to lose. Making an already difficult process even harder.
- We're braking the routine that's needed to succeed. In order to cut down on over eating, there has to be a time where we say "no ... I've eaten enough". Sometimes that can be a difficult process and take a lot of willpower. Having a blowout takes us back a number of steps and then we have to get in the routine all over again. One day should be OK ... a week will be a lot harder.
- It's possible to enjoy Christmas without eating your body weight in Quality Streets every single day. Whilst it is a time to relax and enjoy the break, it's not an excuse to go head first into a trifle with a turkey in each hand.
If there's a job to be done or something to work towards, try avoiding situations that will put you way back and make your journey even more of an uphill struggle.
But some people may want to stay on track every single day and that's OK.
If it's important to you, stick at it and don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't because it's Christmas.
And if you are maintaining everyday and struggling with knowing how to plan your break, here's some tips to help you along.
- Don't be talked out of it by family members or friends. If it's something that you want to follow then make them aware.
- Enjoy the day itself, but avoid going overboard other than the meal itself. Really watch the early morning and late night meals as eating as you normally would there can add the daily calories way up.
- Have the dinner, enjoy it and then stop eating. Fridge raiding when you're not hungry are calories that you don't need. Eat when you're hungry.
- Aim for protein and veggies first. Turkey or other meat (or a veggie option if you prefer) and vegetables first. Then you can move on to the rest.
- Watch out for liquid calories. Beers can rack up anywhere between 200 - 300 calories per can and bottles of wine can be over the 700 mark. On the other hand, spirits tend be a better choice due to the amount you would actually drink vs a lower alcohol percentage wine or beer.
- Drink water. Water aids digestion but also fills your stomach so it helps you avoid over eating.
- Keep active. You don't have to hit a 5k run on Christmas day, but play with the children in your family, help with tidying up or serving food ... anything to keep you moving and increase that important energy expenditure.
- Watch the snacks. The little chocolates in the various Christmas tins can range between 50 to 90 calories and can add up very quickly. The other offenders are cheese and nuts which have high fat contents thus meaning a higher caloric value.
The takeaway points are this ... if losing weight is vitally important and it will make you happier sticking to your plans for the long term goal then do it.
If dieting makes you miserable then take a day off and enjoy Christmas with whoever you want to spend it with.
Other than that .... a very Merry Christmas to you all!