Christmas and diets do not tend to go hand in hand
People tend to fall into two camps. We have the avid gym go-ers/dieters. These are the guys and girls who, even if they wake up to a foot of snow outside their front door, would think ‘Well this will be a great all over cardiovascular workout getting to the gym today!’ (a bit much maybe but you get the idea). They are the types of people who view the countdown to Christmas as a challenge! They WILL look great at the Christmas parties. They also tend to get mildly stressed at the thought of the gym closing for several days (WHY IS IT SHUT ON CHRISTMAS DAY – WHY!) and feel a little sweat coming on at the thought of consuming thousands of calories.
You then have the camp who think ‘What IS the point?’ They conclude that, what with all the work do’s, the Christmas markets, their kids nativity, Christmas itself, New Years…that there is zero point in watching their diet or training. They are just going to get fat. So they might as well consume ALL the food and ALL the drink and then (usually) feel awash with panic and guilt come 1st January and make a lot of announcements on Facebook that ‘This is the year I get myself fit!’
Now, obviously both the above are extremes but I can guarantee you’re reading thinking one of them is you in some way. Because most people are guilty of doing one or the other. The problem is neither I would say are particularly healthy or beneficial.
Group 1 basically don’t know how to relax. Christmas isn’t enjoyable and there’s an element of guilt or trying to undo the damage. Even though realistically it’s only a few days! I mean how many parties can you have?! Group 2 are too relaxed. They go all in but actually DO want to change, deep down. And come January, realise that they are further behind because they have gone crazy for December.
Ideally, we want to be a mixture of the two. So how do you do this? I give my clients what I call ‘YOLO’ moments. These are times where counting calories and macros will just be a hindrance or when the client just needs mentally a break from it all. Christmas and Boxing Day are most definitely YOLO moments in my opinion. I NEVER get my clients to track over Christmas, in fact I say to them if I see any entries in MyFitnessPal over these two days I will be annoyed. Food and drink are important. We use them to bond with friends and family. We create memories and celebrate being with the people we love with a yummy dinner or a glass of wine (or 7!) THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS! Even if you have a goal which you want to achieve, you should still enjoy your time socialising. No six pack is worth being miserable for.
Even if you’re a social butterfly during December, you can still maintain your figure AND enjoy yourself. It’s about balance. During the week you ensure you hit your macros, you hit the gym and get your training in. The day of the party I would get up and get some training in (weights and HIIT) to get your metabolism revved up and put the extra calories you’re going to be consuming to good use.
If you’re planning to have a drink that evening, I would keep most of your calories and macros aside for this. So have predominantly protein based meals during the day with vegetables (yes boring I know but you’ll be dancing on the bar later so…balance) and the damage will be minimal. Stick to white spirits with low calorie mixers if you can. These allow you to have more drinks for less damage. So you look socially acceptable and you’ll be tipsy AND you won’t be consuming 3000 calories or more.
I always tell my clients to make something to eat for when they get home as well. Because we all know, once you’ve had a drink you get ravenously hungry. This is usually when people grab a Maccy D’s or a kebab (which combined with copious amounts of alcohol, doesn’t do great things for your figure) so if you have something tasty but macro friendly for when you get home, you can sit there reminiscing about the night whilst stuffing your face and feel mighty fine about it all.
BUT AGAIN – if this is a one off party, if you have just one event to attend and the rest of the time you’re pretty good with your diet and you training, ENJOY YOUR GOD DAMN EVENING. Do not count calories or macros. It’s a one off. One day isn’t going to make you balloon, it’s the same as one day doesn’t make someone a Victoria Secrets Model.
By following the basic principles above you can enjoy yourself throughout December and not wind up one of those people who declare to the world their fitness goals on January 1st because it has all gone a bit wonky. Unless you want to obviously, in which case go for it.
My point with all this is enjoy yourself but also keep your long term goals in your mind. That, in my opinion, is being balanced. Someone who is majority of the time healthy and looks after their body but then occasionally knows how to let loose has a balanced lifestyle. I’ve witnessed personal trainers go from eating consecutive days of fast food (maccy d’s, fish and chips, kebab, literally one day after the other) and then make themselves chicken and broccoli 5 times a day. This is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. And in my opinion not a healthy representation to their clients. That’s not balanced and how can you preach to your clients about balance if you cannot do it yourself?
So to wrap this all up; Christmas doesn’t have to be a free for all. You can still make amazing memories and enjoy all the parties whilst walking into 2018 looking hot. You are completely in control and you can exercise balance. You’ve got this.