The festive season is officially upon us and we have almost reached the end of our last Transformation Challenge of 2019. How are you going? How will you end the challenge? Will you allow the festivities to ruin all your hard work has achieved?
If you haven’t started thinking about this, now is the perfect time. I’m sure it was someone famous who said if we fail to plan then we plan to fail. It’s true, not dedicating a little time to safe proof ourselves from all the Christmas and New Year frivolities, will ensure we end up as we do every new year, with extra weight and just feeling blah.
So spend a moment with me now.
What are the things that happen to us over this time period?
By the end of January we are back to life as usual but with some extra carryon baggage sticking tenaciously our body like a tight floaty.
So let's break this cycle in an easy to approach way. After all, this is a celebratory time of year and you want to feel free to participate fairly fully!
Now narrow down further to the exact things that will cause us to go backwards health wise. It’s nothing new, but let's note them just the same. This brings clarity and takes the unknown element out of it:
Now we know exactly what to deal with, we can program our escape route without having to detour any of the fun stuff.
6 ways to have fun in the holidays but not lose your hard-earned health gains.
1- Drink more water:
First thing to go is that basic life necessity, water. Festive gatherings and holidays generally mean we are replacing our water and routines with more calorie laden drinking. It takes a small effort but go back to basics and ensure you have the recommended 8 glass minimum, 12 if possible. Sounds a lot bit your body needs the extra hydration to flush toxins and metabolise ……. at this time of year.
2 - Prioritise the order of the food you choose to eat:
At most of the gatherings we will go to there will be copious amounts of food of all sorts. Prevent overeating by placing large amounts of protein on your plate and eating that first, then go back and place some vegetables on the plate. Eat them. Last of all have a little potato or bread if you still want it. Protein is always more satisfying and filling. Once you’ve reached the moment to eat the carbohydrates you are far less likely to eat as much as you would if you were to just mindlessly go for whatever caught your eye. This way there is NO denial. You just prioritise the order. Try it, it’s surprisingly effective.
3 - Mindful eating:
Similar to prioritising your food and not as painful as it sounds is mindful eating. We all have our favourite dishes with great grandmas secret recipe that comes out at these times. Dishes we loved as kids and the memories they evoke. What’s yours? One of mine is Great Auntie Elsie’s Honey Biscuits. Someone will make these, and there is something about the Christmas shapes and smell I can’t say no to. So I will allow myself this absolutely, rather than a piece of bread and butter I don’t really care about, I will say YES to the biscuits and make sure that when I eat them I will savour and enjoy every moment of eating them. Again without mindless reaching for everything I’ve been avoiding for a while, by picking a few must haves and allowing cart-blanche with them as long as I deliberately enjoy eating them with wine I love, I know I will be creating happy hormones, lowering cortisol (and thus dealing with blood sugar better), and feeling no guilt. Just do it. Your Mum’s potato salad, Uncle Henry’s hotdogs, Aunt Gertrude’s cheesecake…own it and love it!
4 - Walking:
This is the gold standard of must do’s. Have a long walk (20+ mins) after your big meal. Low intensity aerobic activity will lower your blood sugar levels and this means less or no weight gain….really….Do your family a favour and invite them along
5 - Workout:
Avoid looking back over the Christmas break realising you haven’t fitted in any workouts. Make sure you schedule in something everyday for at least 30 minutes (although if that thought overwhelms you, make sure to have a back up non negotiable 10 minute workout/walk/yoga/any activity). Give yourself some weekly challenges like this - 150 pushups by the end of one week; 500 squats by end of another week; 100,000 steps by end of week and so on. Get a friend or 2 to do it with you and egg each other on.
6 - Stress:
This is a biggy. I can not stress this (haha) enough. It has been vital for our survival in primitive days for the body to react to stress as if it was a life threatening thing and turn the sympathetic ‘flight’ system to eleven till danger has passed. Unfortunately our body doesn’t discern a difference between a lion about to pounce and a person cutting you off on the road, the inner reaction is the same. Worse still we don’t train ourselves to release this stress. Thousands of years ago we would have a brief emergency attack of an animal for example, then nothing for days/ weeks/ months etc, so plenty of time for calm and peace. These days our emergency system is alerted when we hear of politicians creating havoc with the world, volcano eruptions killing people in a nearby country, annoying spam email promising us a million dollars and a foreign bride (or groom), other people’s screaming kids, red lights, waiting in lines, and grrrrrr, persistent telesales calls, amongst others. That's stress, stress, stress, all day, everyday. The body will not devote the time it should to digest food properly along with other metabolic processes necessary for thriving, instead it will focus on survival only and leave the rest till the danger has passed. Have you ever thought after a massage or relaxing holiday, “goodness I had no idea how much stress I was under, I feel fantastic”, it does the mind no good to be under constant stress AND be aware of it…thats just more stress, so it hides it till we take time out. Too bring it back to the point of this article…food won’t process properly and we will end up fatter, even with the same amount of food. Note, cortisol is that stressor hormone and the body reacts to chronically high levels of this by padding us up around the mid area. Chances are, that if you have a stomach fat problem, you have a chronically high cortisol problem. So take some time out. Better still, program a stress relief activity into your day, whether it’s meditation, a hot bath or quiet time in nature. Be aware that conversations with friends or a book may feel relaxing and are fabulous but will not confer you the same benefits as some daily quiet time, so do those as well but not in place of.
How do you feel now? Have you got a few ideas?
These are 6 actionable things you can do. Try one, try all of them and if you do I guarantee you will look at yourself at the end of January and breathe a sigh of relief that you dodged the extra padding and broken health. Now, instead of spending the rest of the year to get back to where you were, you can now progress yourself even further toward the best version of yourself possible. It’s not a pipe dream, and it’s not a nice to have, this is something that should be our standard. Too many of us compromise our health (and that means a fit, strong, healthy body) often because society is funny and kind of wants to drag you down if you are on a self improvement kick, “oh just have a piece of cake, you’ve earned it”….NO! You have earned a lean, healthy body that moves playfully and youthfully all your life. We all must compromise expectations a little, but we do a lot more than we should. Do it for yourself and encourage others to play with you, enjoy your favourite meaningful meal, sip that superb wine, ponder the beauty of our environment, go for a walk with a friend …… spread the joy of a healthy life ……. Doesn’t that sound a hell of a lot of fun?!
Merry Christmas and may 2020 be your best year yet!
Love Vashti :-)
From Mark Sissan and Ben Greenfield
Before the event:
During the event:
The next day:
Written by Coach Vashti