Posted by Anthea McCourtie on 21 Dec 2022

Feeling a Little Derailed from your health goals this December?!

Let’s face it, whether you’re a regular Buddy the Elf, or more like the Grinch with your Christmas spirit, it’s hard to escape the indulgence that surrounds us in December. Whilst one or two indulgent days won’t undo any of the progress you’ve made this year – the holiday season gets drawn out over weeks. Realistically that can set you back or slow your progress towards your goals. Family meals and social events generally mean rich food and copious amounts of drink over the month. Busy diaries, cold weather and dark evenings can also mean less time and inclination to work out. Little wonder that many of us gain weight, feel run down and generally pretty unhealthy by the time that the new year comes around.

So is it possible to enjoy ourselves over the festivities without the seemingly inevitable wait-until-January procrastination? Well, yes! These 5 tips should help to guide you:

1.Focus on Nourishing Yourself
Eating healthily isn’t so much about avoiding specific foods, but rather eating foods that nourish your body. Focus on eating a range of healthy foods that your body needs, and that you enjoy. As a basic foundation:
• Fill ¼ of your plate with protein foods (meat, poultry, fish, seafood, beans and legumes)
• Fill up to ¼ of your plate with complex carbohydrates (root vegetables and whole grains)
• Fill at least ½ your plate with different coloured vegetables in a meal.
• Healthy fats can be found in foods (eg. Oily fish, avocados and olives) and in cooking oils (extra virgin olive oil, especially).

It might be tempting to skip a meal, knowing that you’re likely to find a buffet or nibbles at social gatherings; but this can be counterintuitive in terms of portion control. Eat to nourish yourself, and have treats as a bonus if you like!
In short – fill up with the good stuff and there’s less need (or room) to fill up with the “not so good”.

2.Be Intentional and Mindful
How often do you find yourself getting stuck into the Quality Street, sausage rolls and mice pies just because they’re there? Do you even like them? No judgement if you actually enjoy the orange creams!
In an effort to be good hosts, many of us will serve far more food than we need to (or our guests can comfortably eat). If you’re entertaining guests, then some healthier options in addition to the treats may be a welcome and refreshing option…. Crudites, olives and dips are simple enough to prepare!
As a guest, after filling yourself with your healthy meal choices (see point above) decide on which treats you genuinely enjoy and want to treat yourself to, and forget about the ones you don’t.

Make a point to fully enjoy your treats. Savour each mouthful as mindfully as possible!

3.Stick with your Habits (Even if Just a Little!)
If your regular routine goes out the window in December, then it can be easy to let your healthy habits slip. By the time that January comes around, it can be like having to start from scratch to re-establish them – and that can take a lot more effort and energy than just ramping things up again.
Even if you don’t have the time to do your regular full workouts, still set aside a shorter amount of time to exercise. This might mean a home workout vs your regular gym session or class.
If cooking healthy meals from scratch feels more stressful than usual, make sure you plan your meals for the week ahead. That way you can work out what needs to be a quick cook dinner, what can be batch cooked, and helps to avoid food wastage.
Keeping even a watered-down version of your regular routine and habits will make it much easier to pick them up again!

4.Keep Moving
As well as keeping some time in your schedule to exercise, why not arrange some more active social get togethers?! This doesn’t have to be anything intense….a walk with a friend through the local common with a coffee can be a great way to catch up and escape any Christmas chaos at home as the big day approaches. Not to mention the health and mental benefits of being outside and around greenery.

Find a trail walk to explore with a friend to catch up!

5.Ditch the All or Nothing Approach
If you keep most of your healthy habits going (even watered down, as above) and being mindful and intentional about indulging, then this should help to keep a sense of moderation going. It can be so tempting to let everything go and wait until January. In theory it makes sense, but realistically speaking it makes life so much harder later on! When it comes to health goals, an all or nothing approach isn’t generally needed, nor is it a good mindset to hold onto.
Take alcohol for example, plan out the occasions where you might have a glass or two, and allocate some drink free days. There are some great free apps available to help you with this, as well as some really decent alcohol-free beers and sparkling wines.

December can be a fun season, which doesn’t have to be unhealthy, and you don’t have to add any further pressure on yourself for January! It could even be a good time to start some healthy habits, such as mindful eating and mini meditations.
If you’d like to discuss your health goals and how a personalised transformation programme or membership support could help, then get in touch!


Anthea xx

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Anthea McCourtie
Anthea McCourtie BSc, BA (Hons) is a Yoga Alliance (RYS 200) registered teacher, nutritional therapist (mBANT, CNHC) and REPS registered personal trainer based in Epsom.

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