This time of year, it’s very difficult to go anywhere socially, without running into a barrage of treats, snacks and delicious baked goods, all of which can make sticking to your goals/program/protocol very difficult.
As someone who works in a hospital setting, I can tell you from first hand experience that during the holiday season nursing stations become veritable mine fields of sugary snacks and delectable pastries.
This is just the way it is. Here are some tips/strategies to help you better navigate and survive these and other common pitfalls that you will likely encounter at holiday time. Hope they help you move towards your goal or at least minimize the damage (I.e harm reduction) during the holidays.
1) Know your plan and stick to it.
Try to choose the best tool that works for you and your physiology in order to burn fat minimize your hunger and psychological temptations, etc… For example, some people do better with avoiding treats at the office if they have regularly scheduled healthy snacks, while others limit their eating window and ONLY eat during this window (like me), and some do best with eating only WHOLE foods and therefore skipping anything refined or processed (especially carbs) altogether. As I said, this is an individual choice and YOU will have to make it… As it say in the US Olympic training facility – Know Thyself. We are not debating each dietary protocol in this post, remember in an earlier post I mentioned that they are just tools in your toolbox and that most (within reason) can work for people as long as they stick to them. Well, this is the challenge of sticking with a plan in spite of holiday treats.
2) At holiday parties.
Once you have your work and regular social environments dialed in, it’s time to shift our focus to holiday parties. Importantly, remember that these are the minority of time vs. #1 above for most people, and in fact, these can be a bit easier to navigate with a little planning, because often there are multiple courses of foods to choose from. First of all, we can attempt to compensate for the increased stress, calories, sugar, etc… during this time by increasing our stress management strategies, better sleep and really dialing in our nutrition and exercise when we are NOT at a holiday party. During the party itself, plan an eating strategy to attempt to increase satiety (fullness) and metabolism as much as possible (not a perfect solution, but should help a bit and not make everyone in the family start pointing fingers). The strategy is simple, try to drink as much calorie free beverage as you can, outside of the wine and spirits that you will likely partake in, and when it comes to the food, limit the before and after snacking, and LOAD up on high protein (I.e. Turkey, Ham, etc…) and higher fiber (I.e. all but the candied vegetables) food items for 1-2 plates, then re approach and have a sampler plate of all the attempts at giving you the diabetes from various family members (I.e. delicious pastries, cookies, candied vegetables, etc…). This way, no one is mad at you, you are still in the will, and most importantly you give some holiday love to everyone while still attempting to love yourself.
3) Use your time off for more than just CHILLIN’
This is a critical piece of the puzzle for most and can truly be the different between achieving their goals and not achieving them. Here is the lifestyle pyramid I created and presented in previous post. Time off is perfect for attempting to dial in the components of your lifestyle pyramid that need improvement. You can read the complete post on my lifestyle pyramid here and see diagram below for reference.
Even from a quick glance at the lifestyle pyramid it is obvious that Sleep is the most impactful part of a person’s lifestyle, and sadly it is often most neglected during the holiday season. Dial that in, as much as you are able to, even if it means going to bed around 1 hour earlier during the holiday season. In a way this is part of your compensation (like exercising more and handling stress) for some of the poor nutrition you might be facing.
It might take some chunk of time to figure out where you are best served to focus on, however, in my experience, if you choose right, then you get a pretty big return on your time investment, so it works out well! Remember the hierarchy of this pyramid is pretty true to life (I.e. Sleep is the base and therefore critical; Stress management is next; followed by nutrition; then exercise; community and last supplements and super-foods.
I hope that you are able to use the tips in this (brief) guide to help you survive the holidays wherever you are and that your goals survive as well!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and I’ll see you in the next one!