Mindset and Motivation

How to Survive the Holiday Season

It may still be November but holiday season is definitely here and we’re starting to get in to the season of parties, drinks and over indulging. It can be pretty overwhelming and if you are trying to maintain or lose weight then the prospect of the next 6 weeks or so can be quite scary. I’m very much of the opinion that life should be all about balance and you should definitely enjoy the festivities but it doesn’t hurt to have a little plan in place to help you get through it relatively unscathed right?

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So here are a few tips to help keep you on track.

#1 Be kind to yourself and try not to panic

Over-eating on a night out does NOT make you a bad person. Your food or drink choices do not reflect your value as a person so if you have a blip and end up splurging when you don’t mean to, it’s ok. So try to remember to stay positive, even when things don’t quite go according to plan. The festive season is challenging for everyone and there’s no point berating yourself over a few extra mince pies. Practice self-compassion, forgive yourself and don’t let it spoil the festive season. Just pick youself up, dust yourself off and start again. Remember, if you’ve been losing weight you didn’t lose it all in one night and you won’t put it all back on again in one night either!

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#2 Choose your battles

Be realistic about how you’re going to handle the festivities. Saying “I’m not going to drink any alcohol at all until the New Year” or “I’m not going to eat any mince pies or chocolates at all” probably isn’t very realistic, but perhaps “I’m only going to drink at Christmas parties” or “I’m not going to eat any mince pies or chocolates at work” might be a bit more doable?

Look at your diary and decide which events are worth relaxing a bit for and having a splurge if you want it – it might be that you decide to enjoy a drink with certain friends or at certain events, and at others you stick to the soft stuff. Use your own criteria to decide which events you want to splurge a bit more at – it doesn’t matter how you decide, the important thing is that it’s worth it to you. One event a week is a good target,  so choose the special events and then don’t worry about them – just look forward to enjoying them guilt-free. Now that doesn’t mean go mad and eat and drink just for the sake of it, but just relax and enjoy having whatever you want to have that day/night.

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#3 Make a plan

If you’ve decided which events to relax and splurge at that naturally means there are some events where you will want to be more careful. Perhaps you’ve decided that you will be more careful at your work-do, but allow yourself to relax at the xmas drinks with the neighbours.  So you have a few options – you can always politely decline to attend – that gets you out of it altogether… but I’m guessing you may well want to be there, so you need a plan.

First thing to remember is that food or drink is not the reason you’re there – the reason you’re there is to share time with people in your life. Focus on the people and the activities rather than the food and drinks.

Simple strategies include ensuring you’ve had something to eat before going to cocktails or drinks gatherings, or ensuring you have dinner plans already in place for afterwards. If it’s a dinner event then just try to make the best possible choices, fill up with veggies and get some protein in, and drink lots of water. If you are drinking alcohol then stick to lighter beers, white wines and other lower calorie drinks and try to avoid sugar-laden cocktails.

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#4 Plan for the problems

Even though you have a plan sticking to it may be easier said than done. Try to think about the possible obstacles in advance. Are buffets your weakness? Do you tend to not eat enough earlier in the meal and then end up over doing it on dessert? Are the canapes your weak point? Or is it the bowls of crisps….

Try to have some alternative plans in place – for buffets commit yourself to one plate of satisfying food only, don’t go back for seconds. Take your time to pick the healthiest options you can and eat them slowly and mindfully. Make a decision before you go not to dip in to the canapes and crisps and ensure you’re not too hungry when you arrive so you’re not starving when they come round. Making an active decision before you even get there will help you to resist them more easily.

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#5 Be sensible and realistic

You have to be realistic about the situations you’re facing. There’s no point planning on just eating carrot sticks all evening at a drinks party – you will fail, no question. So be smart about your strategy and honest about what you can manage. If you have a friend going with you share your plan with them – they might be keen to help you and give you some moral support – it’s a lot easier to say no to those canapes when you’re both refusing them.

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#6 Don’t forget all those other good habits

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you need to forget all those other great habits you’ve developed. So still have a healthy, protein filled breakfast, drink lots of water, keep junk food out of the house, get your daily dose of vitamin D, walk as much as you can, when you’re not out partying focus on good quality sleep, and get to the gym or do a home workout whenever you’re able.

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#7 Celebrate your successes

When you skip that dessert, or stop after that one glass of mulled wine, or avoid the bag of crisps –  celebrate it. It’s so important that you associate positive feelings with these healthy behaviours as that’s how they become habits. Simply smiling sends signals to your brain that something good is happening so giving yourself a big grin when you skip those desserts will already make it easier to do it again in future.

By focusing on the little successes you’ll also feel like you’re making progress. So take the time to make a mental note and congratulate yourself – you deserve it!

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#8 Learn from the inevitable blips 

As well as little successes there will be little slip-ups too. Don’t panic!

It’s normal, you’re only human! If your plan of no dessert ends up with four mincepies and a dollop of ice cream then it isn’t the end of the world. Try not to dwell on it, just because you had dessert when you didn’t mean to doesn’t mean you need to abandon all hopes of exercising self control over the holidays. Just acknowledge it and think about what you could have done to prevent it? And “being a better person” or “being stronger” and other self-damaging beliefs aren’t the answer – think about actual practical things like were you too hungry that day?  Did you get enough protein in? Could you have filled up with more veggies? Could you have left the table before dessert?

Or maybe you just didn’t realise that you’d be served your favourite dessert that evening – had you known maybe that night would have been one of your splurge nights….

Whatever the issue just acknowledge it, learn from it and move on.

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#9 Adapt!

You’re going to find some things easy, others hard, you’ll have successes and setbacks and you’ll find what works for you and what really doesn’t. So be ready to adapt things if you need to. If the plan works well this year then next year it may still work but your circumstances will be slightly different  – friends may change, your job may change, life moves on so you have to as well. Your strategies will need to adapt but the basic principles will still be the same.  So don’t worry about needing to stick to a rigid plan – flexibility is the key!

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#10 Enjoy and find the joy!

It’s a wonderful time of year to connect and reconnect with friends and family – enjoy it, and find the joy in all the things you do this season. Don’t let worries about food and weight overshadow all your activities – cherish the happy moments.

Enjoy 🙂 xxx

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(This post was originally published on pureformfitness.co.uk)

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