You can indulge in a bit of extra eating and drinking without developing Santa’s waistline, as long as you prepare for it. It all comes down to balance.
If you are going to drink every night and overeat your way through the festive season without a corresponding increase in physical activity – you will put on weight! It’s not rocket science.
Try this 4 Step Plan to get through the festive season in the best shape you can.
1. No Guilt
There is no need to abstain from celebrating – you have earned it.
If you are alive, still have a job and a few plants left in the garden you’re doing well. Indeed you are miles ahead of others in the community who are finding it pretty tough.
Enjoy what you have got.
Try and tolerate the annoying family members (you probably won’t see them for another year anyway).
Chill out and enjoy your break. Take the time to rekindle your relationship with your family, friends, partner &/or your kids.
2. Pace Yourself
Whether you’re having breakfast with friends, attending an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch or enjoying dinner at an expensive, swanky restaurant, remember that you’re in control: you choose what to put on your plate.
Eat to be satisfied – not be stuffed. Remember it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full.
I guarantee that there will be food left over. Put smaller portions on your plate and come back for more if you are not satisfied. We are training ourselves to eat larger and larger portion sizes. Change your thinking from finishing everything on your plate to eating just enough to satisfy your hunger.
Here is a bit of food for thought:
At the Buffet:
At the Table:
3. Drink in Moderation
I am the first to advocate a few drinks at this time of year – but be aware of how much you drink and how often you are drinking.
A couple of champagnes or pre-mixes are great to loosen up, but too many through the “festive season” will see you stack on the kilos. If you are going to drink make sure you have plenty of water before you start – particularly on hot days. Two or three cool glasses of water, even some sparkling mineral water, will help to keep you hydrated and stop you “downing a couple of beers” because you’re thirsty.
Mix white wine with soda water or sparkling natural mineral water, and say no to cider and beer. Try sipping on a glass of dry red wine instead. Choose cocktails with care. Avoid any that contain cream, coconut or syrupy juices, and use diet cola or diet lemonade to mix your drinks. (Not that I am a big fan of diet drinks).
If you really don’t want to be tempted, offer to be the designated driver. Your friends – and your body – will love you.
In Chinese Medicine we talk about protecting the spleen and stomach by having food before drinking alcohol and I think this is a pretty good idea. There is no question that having a little food and water prior to hitting the grog will reduce your overall alcohol intake. And you will be able to metabolise the alcohol better with less impact on your liver and digestive system.
Finally, try to mentally allocate the days that you are going to drink ahead of time. This may sound a little retentive but it does work well.
Pick the days or events that you want to have a drink, but give your body a break in between. Do not settle in “chardy’o’clock” (or beer’o’clock) every day. There is no way you can burn that many kilojules. Do this and you will be listing “detox” and “weight loss” high on your new years resolution list.
Alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat. And a night of heavy drinking can affect your energy levels for days after, ruining any chance of doing some exercise. Aim to have no more than a few alcoholic drinks – and be sure to dance till you drop to burn extra kilojoules.
4. Map Out Your Exercise
It sounds a bit organised I know but this is a great time of year to re-kindle your exercise program. It is the party season, but it is also a great time to get outdoors and get fit.
If you have a spinal problem or you are recovering from an injury this is a great time to commence (or continue) your rehab. What you do outside the clinic is just as important as what we do to help you inside the practice. Your health is your responsibility.
Allocate some time to go for a walk each day. Heck, walk morning and night if you can! Make sure you are doing your stretches they are as important as brushing your teeth.
One of the best things you can do for your spine is swimming. And swimming doesn’t get any better than in summer. You don’t have to pump out 10 laps of freestyle (if you can though, great), just grab a noodle, float on your back and do a couple of lazy laps. It is perhaps the best activity you can do to relieve back pain and help strengthen your spine!
Here are a few suggestions in no particular order:
Final Thoughts and a Few Tips
The holidays are meant to be fun, so cut yourself some slack. Plan ahead, measure your pleasure and, above all, keep active.
Use these tips to stay on track:
Natural Medicine for Festive Season Survival
Don’t let the holiday season become a reason to slack off on your natural medicine regime. As well as exercising, attempting to eat well and drinking plenty of water, there are a few different natural medicines you should take to get yourself back into the best shape possible: