Christmas is my favourite time of the year. The weather is warm, everyone is in a good mood and it gives us all the opportunity to come together with our friends and family. While it is an incredibly positive time of the year it can also be a very stressful and depressing time of year for some people too. We all tend to overindulge a bit with all of the parties, get-togethers and if your mum is anything like mine there will be an excess of food for your Christmas meal. For me, this year I have 3 full on days of Christmas celebration. My in-laws are over from Norway so we will be celebrating with them on Christmas Eve. My Dad is coming back to Sydney from Melbourne and we will spend Christmas Day with his side of the family. Finally, we have Boxing Day with my Mum's side of the family. As you can imagine, your best laid plans to watch what you eat or make smart food choices can go out the window a little bit. I want to really try and make people understand that this doesn't need to be a bad thing.
I have a funny image in my head while I am writing this of Santa Claus standing next to the Christmas tree after delivering the presents. He is eyeing off that plate of cookies and glass of milk. I know and you know that he wants to eat it but there is an internal battle inside of him. The voices in his head are saying, "you aren't getting any younger and the chimneys are not getting any skinnier". I can imagine him actually walking to the fire place and seeing how wide his waist is and then comparing it to the chimney. He takes a sad sigh and instead of going for the cookies, resentfully takes a bite of the carrots left for the reindeer. Don't be ridiculous! Santa doesn't have time for that shit! He knows what he wants and takes it. I bet he doesn't even feel guilty about it after. Too many people who are trying to lose weight can have emotional responses to food. What I mean is that they often eat because they are unhappy or upset. They plan to behave themselves on Christmas and when it doesn't happen they spiral into a tirade of emotional eating. Lets get this out of the way quickly, it is Christmas, one of 365 days of the year. If you want to have a day where you eat whatever you want then this is the day to do it.
The post-Christmas depression which can result from people overeating is often much more damaging than the eating that people do at Christmas time itself. If you have one bad day and feel like shit because of it, don't make it worse by eating shit for the next 2 weeks. Those 2 weeks of bad food decisions will have a much longer lasting impact than Christmas itself. I also feel like I should say that I am sure there are people who do show a lot of self-control on Christmas. That is awesome too. If you are able to maintain your healthy eating habits then go for it. I think it is more the case that when you go and visit your friends and family who have prepared the food you are sometimes unable to control what you have available to you. The main point though is to not let it get you down if you do overdo it a little. If you want to have a day of indulgence do it! Just don't feel like garbage afterwards because you have put on some weight. It isn't the end of the world.
Now onto how I think you can help to manage both your emotions as well as regulate exactly how much you do consume. Firstly, if you are keeping a food journal (something I highly recommend) don't bother recording the food you eat at Christmas. Just enjoy it and treat it like the mother of all cheat days. While you are celebrating Christmas maybe avoid the snacks like candy and chocolate and instead go for the meat and veggies for lunch or dinner. If you really do want to avoid eating too much but have poor self-control you can set yourself a goal for boxing day. "I am going to go for a 2 hour run at 7am" if you commit to that, you will rethink that extra beer of 5th serving of pavlova. I know I keep going on about it but I do not think this is something that people need to do though. I am not saying that you should try and see how much you can fit in and eat until you are sick. Instead I am saying, have fun, celebrate Christmas, spend time with your friends and family and do not let what you put into your body for one day of the year impact on your perception of yourself for days or weeks to follow. Christmas is meant to be a happy time of celebration. So celebrate and remember the only fat man at Christmas time that matters doesn't count calories while he is working his way around the world eating cookies as he goes.
For me this has been an incredible year where eI have exceeded my own expectations several times. I will do a sort of year in review next week to go though all of the goals I set for myself and where I have met, exceeded or fallen below my expectations. But how about you? What sort of tricks do you use at this time of year to stay on top of your healthy habits? What have been your worst post-Christmas blues? Lets all share our stories so that people know that they are not alone in this.
Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you spend it with friends and family and have a great day and that as always, you remember to TRI!