Holiday Season Survival Guide

Merry Christmas!! We are now officially into the season of Christmas Parties and rushing around finishing up the year. 

Typically for many of us this leads to treat food, overeating, drinking and foregoing exercise. And for some of us this will lead to increased stress, fatigue, bloating, tiredness and feelings of self loathing as we beat ourselves up over another year of "being naughty". 

Here's how I would like you to survive this: Eliminate negative thoughts and emotions. I give you full permission to eat, drink and be merry but ONLY if you give yourself permission to, and ONLY if you enjoy it and stop giving yourself a hard time...ok? 

What's done is done, this is the season of fun and frivolity, and I want you to feel good.  The only thing you need to do is just FEEL how your body and mind felt with the food or drink and then just ask yourself one simple question: How would I like to feel? The answer to that question MAY just have a nice subconscious effect on the next food or drink event.

Be kind to yourself. Ok, so you may not have lost the 10kg you needed to by summer.  That's perfectly ok, life isn't over and you still get a whole bunch of other chances to lose the weight you desire. This is a family and friend time of year, and guess what - they still love you with that extra 10kg.

What do you love about yourself?  Are you kind, funny, giving, clever, handy at cooking a mean turkey...? In the words of Trinny & Susanna, start looking at the things you like.  Just be gentle and kind with yourself ok? And just be realistic, it is too late to lose 10kg by Christmas, so why worry about it now... which brings us to the next survival tip.

Forget this years un-achieved goals and start planning for a new one. Dwelling on what you didn't achieve isn't going to magically make it happen. Use this time to feel why you didn't achieve, what were the blocks in your way. Was the goal too big? Was it the wrong time? Did you have help that wasn't quite right for the wonderful individual that you are? Do you need assistance with your goal setting, planning and implementation.  These are the things to think about. 

You didn't fail at your goal, you just need the right strategy that works for you - and YOU my friend will start the process of finding that calmly and stop this nonsense of failure and beating yourself up over the goal you didn't achieve. There is no "goal" rulebook, there is no one keeping score of how many times you tried.

Hydrate!! Keep drinking water, keep a water bottle in your bag, next to your bed, on your desk at work and keep hydrating. This will help to eliminate aches, pains, fatigue, brain fog, hunger and dehydration. You will feel less puffy! A hydrated body is a happy christmas body. Save the treat foods for occasions. If you are having breakfast by yourself then eat a healthy breakfast. If it is out with friends, then by all means treat yourself if that's what you would like to do. 

The more you can eat well in every day life, the less guilt and less physical effects the treat food will have when you do indulge. The 80/20 rule works well. Eat everything...but just a little. There are so many yummy treat foods, if you want to try them all why not have a tablespoons size of each one instead of a big dollop.  Experience the taste of all foods without the heaviness of overeating them. If there is one item you particularly like - just have one more. Chew slowly and be attentive to your food. 

Our brain registers we have had enough to eat when we digest well and when we are attentive to what we eat. Mindless eating or snacking in front of the TV or reading stimulates overeating as we don't register the true quantity of food. Willpower to stop eating when we've had enough doesn't exist, but stimulating the right digestive and hormone response through mindful eating does.

Breathe and sleep. When we stimulate our Parasympathetic Nervous System, we reduce the feast or famine response that Cortisol produces. Good sleep and good diaphragmatic breathing is the easiest way to cut the Sympathetic Nervous System circuit and switch it over to PNS. Sure we can try and deal to our stress or meditate etc, but isn't breathing well and sleeping well a nice non confronting place to start?

Keep moving. You don't have to do 1-2 hours of exercise every day if you can't fit it in.  But can you get out even for a 20 minute walk or 20 minutes of something intense? Fat is not burned in that one hour at the gym, and muscle is not built in the gym. You have 23 other hours in the day to consider, these are the hours where our anabolic hormones are going to work on our fat and muscle, and this happens after we have done some good exercise to allow this anabolic rebound.  Use exercise as a way of improving cellular function so your body can handle the seasons treats better. It will help you feel not so sluggish during the season. You may not have an hour to exercise, but if you have 20 minutes - then go and do it!  The best exercise is the exercise you do.

What you need to know about body lag. Let's say you did lose your 10kg for Christmas, you just need to know this - you may very well get through the first 21-28 days eating everything in sight without putting a kg back on. But our body has a lag effect and after that 21-28 day window the weight will come piling back on (if it hasn't already). So, if you want to keep that 10kg off long term - apply the above survival tactics also, and use the program that you used to lose weight at least 80% of the time. 

Your brain is going to fight you and tell you "No, I can get away with this, its been 2 weeks and I haven't put any weight on" But its not your brain that will gain 10kg back, its your body and those cells know how to do that in spite of your brain telling you otherwise. Just be sensible, but enjoy the season! And remember its a long time between the 1st of December and the 31st of January... Can you really justify 2 months of "Christmas" eating?