Question: Lead the stampede to the buffet or ‘behave’ yourself in case Santa is watching and to avoid an awkward encounter with your friendly neighbourhood nutritionist – with a Cheezel on each of your fingers and a mouth stuffed with chorizo?
The tsunami of food, champagne and beer is relentless and goes on – not just for the 12 days before Christmas – but for at least a month prior and a good few weeks of ‘hair of the dog’ afterwards. And as we all know from years of experience, gorging ourselves doesn’t come without a price!
At first it’s the bloated stomach which sees you heading to the bathroom mid-function to undo a few notches on your belt, then soon you stop wearing your favourite clothes. Waistlines creep out and you suddenly develop a double boob in your favourite bra, and this starts to affect how you feel in your coconut.
Guilt perhaps? Regret? Sadness? Shame? Anger? Will you reach a desperate conclusion that since you’ve let the dogs out, you’re just going to continue madly surfing this food wave and do something about it when you pop yourself through to the other side like some sort of experimental human champagne cork …. Perhaps that may happen sometime in the New Year…?
Now, I don’t want to be a killjoy as Christmas is also my favourite time of year! But I feel it would be negligent of me to not point out that most weight gain over the Christmas period doesn’t magically dissolve in January when the lights are taken down and the tree packed away. It’s unfortunately the present that you can’t re-gift to nanna for her birthday or hide at the back of your cupboard.
Sadly, most of that weight gain will stick with you and worse still – it will accumulate over the years. This is despite your best sweaty attempts to bootcamp it away, despite the fact that you’ve just spent $1000 on a gym membership that you will not use after Australia day, despite swapping real food for powdered algae, Amazonian berries and unicorn tears, despite having coffee and a hose inserted in your derriere to ‘clean you out’ (whaaaa…?!). The inflammation in your entire digestive tract and the awful reality that your excrement now does actually smell of Rosé – will not magically resolve when you swap your Moët for organic kombucha.
So what is a party animal like you to do?
I could write you a scientifically-based list of strategies to help you ‘control’ yourself – drink water between drinks, don’t go to a party hungry, stay away from fried foods… <insert yawn>. But as much as I like to science – I know that after your second vino, you’ll essentially use that list to clean up the wasabi mayonnaise that just dripped from your canape onto your new top.
Instead – here’s just 3 key things to keep in mind that occasionally turn over in my brain
Concept One – Ditch the concept of ‘New Years Resolutions’ – they rarely work and cost a bomb – $ that you often don’t have after spending it on shoes and cocktails…I mean after spending it on Lego and Shopkins for the kids. Having this idea in your head that you’ll ‘fix it all’ in January and become some nutritional Mother Theresa who discovers that she does actually love kale after all and is going to ride her bike to work instead of driving – makes the animal inside you go rabid.
Planning to draconically restrict all lemon tart, beer, carbos, fried food and work out for 2 or even maybe 3 hours a day in the New Year to shed your newfound muffin top and regain your health will only make yourself indulge further now and totally abandon any attempt to maintain your fitness.
Put simply, the reaction to fearing hunger and deprivation in the future is to over-consume and binge now.
Concept Two – Pick your moments – Don’t go nuts at every party, choose one a week that you really want to cut loose at and go ahead and dance on top of the bar. However, consider driving to (and from!) the others, returning before midnight before you turn into a pumpkin. Not having your beer brain on and scheduling a workout early the next morning will also usually result in you making far better food decisions.
Bonus: designated drivers should score points towards good pressies under the tree for this selfless act! Make sure to point that out to your boozehound friends – BEFORE they start on the tequila shots because the Sav Plonk ran out.
Similarly – you already know that there will be far too much overconsumption with friends, family and work mates during this Silly Season – so this is probably the most important time of the year to have your own fridge stocked with fruits, veg, wholegrains and quality proteins. Try to stay organised with making your own nourishing and balanced meals/snacks in those interval periods between parties. Slipping in the odd meat pie or pub lunch any other time of the year because you couldn’t be bothered to take your own lunch to work is not a problem, but in December/January – it’s just adding fuel to the fire.
Concept Three – Next year, don’t create so many random, rigid ‘diet’ rules and restrictions for yourself. Christmas shouldn’t be the only the time of the year that you’re allowed to splurge and be human. Throughout the year, go for a 90:10 or even 80:20 approach with your eating and exercising habits. Perfection is impossible and aside from sending yourself mental, striving for it will only lead to some pretty wild behaviour during next year’s Silly Season – and so the cycle will continue!
So enjoy the coming weeks and I hope that you find my above thoughts to be more simple, realistic and useful that the random lists of ‘Top 10 Strategies to Stop Weight Gain this Holiday Season’ that will soon be flooding your inboxes and Facebook feeds.