Hi, I’m Georgie (@InPursuitOfHealthyness) and this week I’m taking over the blog to talk about winter wellness.
The clocks have gone back, coffee cups have a festive twist and supermarkets are starting to take turkey orders. It can only mean one thing: it’s almost Christmas!
If you’re like me, and I’m sure if you’re reading this you are, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Time to reconnect with friends and family, enjoy the fairy lights brightening up those dark nights, and celebrate the season with gifts.
Winter poses a challenge to wellness
Unfortunately for our wellness journeys, however, it’s also a time to navigate the temptations of lots of indulgent food and drink.
Not only are there lots of treats out there, but it’s also much harder to stay active. The freezing dark nights, combined with busy social calendars, mean the prospect of going out in the cold for a run or heading to the gym is suddenly not quite as appealing as it was back in July.
RELATED: Bad weather workout swaps
With all this going on, how do we stay motivated? How do we balance wanting to enjoy treats whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle and focus on wellness?
These were big questions on my mind this time last year. By Christmas 2017 I was almost half-way through the journey that would eventually see me losing ten stone with WW. As I said, I absolutely LOVE Christmas and wanted to be able to enjoy it. But I also didn’t want to lose momentum.
In the end, I managed to lose weight over the two weeks of Christmas and New Year! Here’s what I did, and what I learned about staying on track during the festive season:
1. Set yourself a goal
Before we get knee-deep into festivities, you should ask yourself one vital question. Do you want to lose or maintain? And if you were content with a gain, to what level would you be okay with?
Many members say to themselves that they’re happy with whatever they gain during the festive season. This is completely okay, especially if you’ve planned for it and are fully prepared to get back on track in January.
Yet it’s worth considering what would make you feel happier: having a blow-out and gain that might take a couple weeks to get off in January? Or being on-plan, still enjoying treats, but getting ahead of the game when it comes to your January goals?
Whatever the answer, thinking ahead to what you’d like the scales to say in January is a good first step to manage the season.
2. Managing the build up
For me, 1 December marks the start of Christmas. The whole month is one joyous festival of twinkling lights, parties (work and otherwise), catch-ups with loved ones, and of course, shopping!
Yet, as we know too well, with all this merriment comes so much good food and temptation — from canapés at the work do and lots of dinners out, to colleagues bringing in mince pies and the lure of a hot chocolate whilst shopping. And that’s even before you start to think about the free-flowing wine and prosecco! So how can you manage all of this and stay on track?
The first answer is to plan, plan and plan some more. Take a look at your diary for the month and map out the days which you know will be the trickiest to manage. If you have one or two a week, think about how you can make use of your weeklies and rollovers to stay within plan on those days.
Then it’s time to think about the scenario itself:
If you’re off to a dinner with a set menu, ask the organiser or venue in advance if you can look at it. Plan to offer your starter and/or dessert to another member of your table, and estimate the main course’s SmartPoints® value in advance. It’s then much easier plan the rest of your day or weeklies around it.
When the SmartPoints are looking a little high, give the venue a call and see if they can switch it out for something else. Most are pretty happy to do so. It happened to me just this week: a place I went to for dinner swapped butter-infused mash with new potatoes.
For socialising at restaurants, the WW Eat Out guide cannot be beaten. Make your food choice and track it before you head out. Get excited about the delicious dish you’ve chosen and don’t bother looking at the menu when you get there. You’re prepared, and on plan! Best of all, it means you can focus on enjoying the company rather than worrying about what to eat.
Canapés and treats in the office are two of the harder things to manage over Christmas. However, I’ve developed one simple rule — if I haven’t planned to eat it, then I think of the food as ‘not mine’. I tell myself it’s there for other people to enjoy and politely decline as it is circulated. This isn’t about denying myself, but a conscious decision after considering ‘what will I have gained from eating that mince pie after the moment is over’.
RELATED: 6 festive finger food ideas
The key to executing this is – you guessed it – planning. I ensure I’ve eaten enough throughout the day and make sure a nice and healthy meal is waiting for me at home. I make a choice to look forward to what I’ve planned to eat and ensure I’m not hungry in the meantime. This has been unbelievably helpful throughout my journey.
But – and this is a big but – do not deny yourself if you really want that mince pie or glass of wine. It’s the season for merriment so, if you know you want one, eat it, track it and move on!
3. The Big Day(s)
Once you’ve planned, tracked and navigated your way through the build up to Christmas (hopefully making progress on your wellness goals) it’s time to celebrate!
It comes around once a year and I’d recommend fully embracing Christmas Day itself as an off-plan day. Life is for living – and the worst outcome is you try hard to stay on track and then resent not enjoying it.
This is an excuse to indulge – enjoy it! Keep in mind the healthy choices you make on a day to day basis, watching how full you’re getting. Perhaps have smaller portions than you did last year, but don’t force yourself to track if you don’t want to.
RELATED: 3 ways to indulge on WW
The most important thing about indulging over Christmas though is that you plan for your off-plan days. This year, like last, I’ll plan to have Christmas and Boxing Days off-plan. Boxing Day is another big day in my family calendar, and I’m not going to deny myself the leftovers!
Whilst it’s Boxing Day for me, perhaps it’s Christmas Eve for you. Regardless, I highly recommend putting aside two or three days that you have off-plan. Enjoy them and box it off in your mind.
It’s what you do before and afterwards those days that count!
4. Between Christmas and New Year
After the indulgences of Christmas Day, it’s so easy to fall into the mindset of ‘it’s okay, I’ll start again in the new year’. However, by doing this, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to get a head start on your goals.
Last year I enjoyed Christmas and Boxing Days off-plan, but always kept in mind I was going to get back on track on the 27th. And I did!
If you’re off work, it’s an opportunity to plan and batch cook some healthy meals for the New Year. If you’re in the office or performing vital public services, these few days are a good time to get back to normal.
Just ensure that you’ve only brought in enough food for the two days themselves and there’s limited leftovers to pick at or tempt you. Alternatively, stick to munching on ZeroPoint™ foods – which include skinless turkey breast and festive veggies.
Hopefully this period will mean more downtime for you than the rest of the year. Perhaps use it to go for a winter walk with friends or family? If you’re feeling particularly brave, try turning that walk into a run! I can guarantee it’ll give you headspace and you’ll feel better as a result.
5. New Year Goals
Regardless of how you choose to navigate the Christmas season, the end of it brings a new year – a chance to re-boot and set new goals for the year ahead.
Have a think over the festive period about what you would like to achieve over the course of 2019. You don’t need to be hard on yourself and try to achieve them all on 1 January. If you know what you want to achieve by December 2019 and have planned how you’ll do it over the course of the year, you will be successful.
When it comes to your wellness journey, the most important thing is to get back to your Workshop as soon as it opens again. I know a lot of members are afraid to do so and worried about what the scales will say. However, just think, within a few weeks of re-focusing on your healthy lifestyle you could be further ahead on your goals than before 25 December.
I hope you find this advice useful and, more importantly, have a very merry & restful Christmas – and a successful 2019!
RELATED: Find your local Wellness Workshop