The end of December is approaching faster than in any other month. In order to live up to the sudden acceleration we speed up and push our health aside. It’s just easier to focus on “more important” things, such as getting the Christmas tree in the right size, baking the seventh batch of Christmas cookies and decorating our home. New year is coming soon and with it the famous new year’s resolution list with all our good intentions neatly written down reappears. But do we really have to wait until the beginning of the new year to trim off the fat and get our engine started?
Why not move your new year’s resolution up one month and challenge the Christmas season ahead of time? While one might feel caught in between mulled wine, cookies, Advent calendars and Christmas parties in December, the image of not feeling stuffed, sluggish and hung-over every single weekend appears equally alluring. So, instead of postponing your health-related new year’s resolutions to January 1st, I recommend starting a bit earlier and delving into green juices, new gym classes and healthy meals before the end of the year. But how does that work if we don’t want to be perceived as the Grinch, who chews halfheartedly on a lettuce leaf while others enjoy goose roast, punchbowls and double layered chocolate cakes?
It’s all a matter of balance and really not as hard as you think. In this post, I will share some tips with you on how to stay as healthy as possible during December. First, however, it is important to be aware of the fact that the jolly season is the best time to gain weight, since we are exposed to unhealthy food more often than during the rest of the year. Numbers differ and it is naturally very individual how much weight we are bound to gain after all, but The Guardian compared different studies in this article and disclosed some hidden facts about the extra Christmas pounds.
- Stay disciplined. No matter what they say – it DOES matter what you eat. Before Christmas, most offices seem to be exploding with sweet treats, Christmas cookies and leftover cakes. It’s a nice gesture, but don’t let others fool you, when they say: It’s the season and it doesn’t matter if we put on some weight. We know it matters and if we want to avoid that awful feeling of our jeans getting way too tight, we better stick to our healthy routine and don’t lie to ourselves. If you want to learn more about how to retain your discipline, check out my blog post The Truth about Discipline.
- Move, move and move some more! Especially in December, we tend to get lazy and prefer to snuggle in a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea, watching cheesy Hollywood flicks. As much as I love to do this from time to time, I get more satisfaction from being active and exercising. I have a friend who goes for early morning runs even when it’s freezing – if you know someone like her, either join them or let them be your motivation for working out too.
- Apply the 80/20 rule. I’m all for socializing and meeting with your friends on the Christmas market, enjoying a hot mug of mulled wine to warm up from the inside or eating those once-in-a-year specialties like Langos (a Hungarian deep fried flatbread). But occasions like this happen only a couple of times a week (20%). The other part of the week is entirely up to you to make as healthy as possible (80%). If you stick to your green juice, detox tea or smoothie in the morning, have a nutrient-packed meal for lunch, go for a run in the afternoon (80%), then there’s no compelling reason to ditch the Christmas party, market or baking sessions with your best friends in the evening (20%).
- Limit your alcohol consumption. No groundbreaking news here, just a small reminder to reduce your alcohol consumption to a minimum and to alternate between water and alcoholic beverages when you drink. I can tell from experience that a few glasses of water in between two glasses of wine make a massive difference in how you feel the next day.
- Be conscious. Life is not about chaining oneself to strict rules you know you’ll never be able to adhere to forever. Life is about enjoying what we do with the people we love. Sometimes, we tend to forget that and let the busy season stress us with obligatory duties. We get lost in the details and forget our health intentions. When you feel drained and sluggish amidst wrapping paper and party preps, then you know it’s time to hit the pause button and refocus on what really matters: You, your health and your loved ones. Everything else is a nice-to-have. Let’s become mindful and consciously enjoy the treats of the jolly season – only then we’ll be able to make good decisions and recognize that a healthy body needs a healthy mind and vice versa.