At this time of year our focus often shifts from the everyday routine to Christmas and New Year plans. Not so bad for people like me who have a minimal social life but for many it means parties, after-work drinks as well as mince pies and chocolates floating round the office. Adverts don't help much either, encouraging us to indulge. Neither do supermarkets drawing us in with strategically placed Christmas food on offer.
Over Christmas it’s inevitable most will indulge, and I think it’s ok to do this, but excess food and drink means excess weight which you might not want. December may not be the time for you to move towards your goals as quickly as you’d like to but it doesn’t mean you have to move backwards either.
With this in mind set yourself an objective for the Xmas period to keep your long-term goals in sight and then work out what you need to do (and not do) to succeed.
The Bigger Picture
Keeping your bigger-picture goals in mind creates a constant underlying source of motivation. This will determine your behaviour and the choices you make. Think ahead to January and where you want to be in relation to your long-term objectives. Mentally put yourself there, in January, and imagine how you’ll feel knowing you are in a place you’re happy with, and then think about how you’ll feel not being where you had hoped to be. Use these visualisations to motivate you throughout December.
If you have a long-term goal to lose weight but you are aware that there are going to be occasions where you will be eating foods you don't usually eat then be realistic when setting Christmas goals. Rather than to lose weight, your goal might be not to gain any weight. If you train several times a week and this isn’t achievable over Christmas then make a deal with yourself to be active a minimum number of times each week, to keep things ticking over so you don’t feel like you’re starting again come Jan.
Think ahead and make a plan for the lead up to Christmas Day and then for the days following into the New Year. Then slot in social events or times you know you will indulge. Allow for a small number of indulgences each week and enjoy them guilt-free knowing that you are keeping to your usual routine for the remainder of the time. If you struggle with planning then instead create some simple rules surrounding your daily routine. For example, aside from indulgences, not to eat foods with added sugar, not to drink alcohol, to avoid bread; whatever you feel are the usually culprits in hindering your goals. This will make on the spot decision making much easier.
Look at your calendar each week and make a plan to create some balance. This could be to only have chosen days that you allow yourself to indulge or for indulgences to be more frequent but smaller - whatever you find easier to maintain. Working around indulgences by reigning things right in the rest of the time will help even out your calorie intake for the week.
Choose your Moments Wisely
I follow this rule throughout the year; choose times where it's actually worth indulging. For example, mindlessly snacking on quality street at the office probably isn't as fun as enjoying a dessert at a nice restaurant.
Having good intentions may be there but a mince pie can be sprung on us at any time, as can last minute invitations to the pub. This is when on the spot decisions must be made. At times like this think ahead to how you will feel afterwards if you do or don’t, and then make your decision, and be positive about it. So if you have a mince pie or go to the pub rather than going for the whole 'all is lost so I'll just restart in January', return to your plan afterwards and look at where you can cut back over forthcoming days to reduce the accumulative effects of over-indulging.
Louise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness, Harpenden.