Staying Active over Christmas and New Year
When the weather gets colder, your motivation to exercise can be pretty much zero. It’s much more tempting to snuggle indoors and eat comfort food but this is a fast track to weight gain. Staying active is crucial for staying in shape and not gaining extra pounds over the festive season and this is one tip that you definitely don’t want to skip.
Motivation aside, lack of time can also be an issue over the holidays. If you’re struggling to fit exercise into your life over Christmas and New Year, you may need to change your routine to make time for it. Trying to fit a workout into a lunch break is an option but that won’t work for you, think about getting up a bit earlier and starting the day off with some exercise. This can work well if you usually run out of time to exercise and know deep down that you’re unlikely to find the time otherwise.
Another option is to change your workouts over the festive season. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great move, especially if you’re pushed for time. Because you’re working harder and doing pretty intense activity, it’s perfect if you don’t have time for a long workout. Spending even 10 minutes doing HIIT routines can go a long way towards avoiding festive weight gain and should be short enough to find room for in the average day. And if you can spend a bit longer? Even better!
If you’re spending the holidays away from home, planning ahead can make a lot of difference.
See if you can access any walking routes and see if you can rope the family into joining you on a winter walk, for example. If you’ve got younger family members around, you can get involved in an energetic activity such as tag or sports.
Plan simple workouts that don’t need a lot of space or any specific equipment. There are lots of quick and easy workouts you can do in a bedroom or living room and these tend to involve squats, lunges, jumping jacks and the like. You can do these pretty much anywhere so no excuses! Bring soup cans or water bottles into the mix to increase the intensity.
Even the dreaded household chores are another opportunity to be active. Vigorous vacuuming can burn up to 100 calories in half an hour. Doesn’t seem quite as unappealing when you think of it as a way to stay in shape!
Mindful Eating Over the Holidays
You’ve heard of mindfulness but did you know that it also extends to the way that you eat? With mindful eating, there is a strong focus on what you’re eating. It’s about truly immersing yourself in the sensations of your food, including how it tastes, looks and smells.
It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you’re full. In that time, you can easily a lot of extra calories before the signals hit home.
Mindful eating is intended to avoid this and encourages you to wait 20 minutes after eating to see whether you’re really hungry or not. You can put this into action at Christmas and New Year parties by holding off on second helpings for at least this 20 minute window. In a lot of cases, you’ll probably find that you’re not actually still hungry once the time is up, especially if you have successfully distracted yourself. The key is not to keep going back to the buffet in the meantime!
Mealtimes in general are a great time to be mindful. Try not to multitask while you’re eating over the holidays - no smartphones or television!
Another big part of mindful eating involves chewing your food thoroughly… up to 30 times for each mouthful. This can be a big challenge once if you usually just bolt your food and don’t take the time to chew it very well. Savouring every mouthful is also important. That way, you enjoy what you're eating without feeling the need to go overboard.
It’s difficult to eat mindfully if you’re absolutely ravenous when you turn up to a Christmas or New Year. Chances are, you’re going to consume a lot more calories than you would otherwise. Eating a protein rich snack around half an hour before you go to a party will help to fill you up and allow you to eat in a more mindful way while you’re there.
You can still drink alcohol over the holidays … just be aware that some alcoholic drinks pile on more calories than others. Plus, they’re empty calories with no nutritional value.
Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink to pace your alcohol intake.It'll help you to avoid getting dehydrated too. Being mindful with your drinking and taking your time in getting to the bottom of a glass can help too.
If you really can’t resist your festive tipples such as eggnog and mulled wine, save your alcohol calories just for these and find alternatives the rest of the time. Lower calorie alcoholic drinks are an option or topping up with low calorie mixers such as soda.
A few of the drinks that can really up your calorie intake include margarita (over 500 calories) and pina colada (also over 500 calories).
Dark spirits combined with mixers can add a similar amount of calories to a chocolate mousse. And a couple of rum and cokes can quickly be equal to a pack of chocolate buttons.
Alcoholic drinks aren’t the only thing to be aware of at this time of year. Non-alcoholic drinks can also add a lot of extra calories. Love the autumn and Christmas offerings at Starbucks? You might be surprised at their calorie count.
Gingerbread latte comes in at nearly 300 calories and delivers over 10g of fat and 28+ grams of sugar. If you get cravings for gingerbread, it's far healthier to make your own batch at home. Starbucks Toffee Nut Latte, Eggnog Latte and Maple Latte have a similar calorie count and are also high in fat and sugar. Prefer hot chocolate? This can easily weigh in at over 300 calories - before you factor in whipped cream and marshmallows. You're often better off making your own hot chocolate at home.
Insomnia and Weight Gain
Ever noticed that you want to snack more after a bad night’s sleep? It’s not just coincidence - there’s some science at play here too. It’s all linked to your body’s production of hormones linked to appetite, namely ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin stimulates your appetite while leptin lets your brain know when you’ve eaten enough and are full. Sleep disrupts this delicate balance and encourages ghrelin levels to increase. At the same time, leptin levels go down. The end result? You’ll overeat and want to snack on unhealthy foods.
Research has shown that people eat an extra 300+ calories after a bad night’s sleep. As much as you might be tempted to burn the candle at both ends over the holidays, try to resist the temptation and get some early nights. You’ll find it a lot easier to manage your weight over Christmas and New Year if you’re not seeking extra calories.
How Stress Can Affect Weight Gain
The holiday season can be a very stressful time for a lot of us. There's the financial stress, the planning that goes into creating a perfect Christmas and New Year, and the tension that can often arise when families are in close proximity over the holidays. Travel can be a major source of stress too, if you're going to stay with family.
All of this can be bad news for your weight:
When you're stressed, it triggers the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This is known to increase your appetite and make you more likely to crave fatty, sugary foods. A lot of the weight you gain as a result of cortisol production tends to accumulate around the stomach.
A study from Ohio University also found that stress makes it harder to burn calories so you're less likely to lose the weight you're gaining. Compared to women who weren't stressed, there was a difference of over 100 calories burnt.
The bottom line? Do what you can to reduce your stress levels this holiday season. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to get things perfect, try to take a step back from it and focus on the less commercial side of the festive season.
Don't forget to put time aside to focus on yourself and your self care too. Whether that involves meditation, mindfulness, journalling, a relaxing scented bath or catching up with a good book, it's important to have some "me" time over Christmas and New Year.
Sometimes, healthy eating and exercise won’t be enough to maintain a healthy weight or drop stubborn extra pounds- especially if you’re dieting without addressing why you’re overeating.
It’s often due to emotional factors and eating to satisfy emotions rather than genuine hunger. You might turn to food when you’re bored, lonely, stressed or upset, for example.
Unless you can find a way to break the cycle of emotional eating, any diet you attempt will fail.
Hypnotherapy aims to address the underlying causes of overeating so that negative patterns of behaviour can be tackled.
During hypnotherapy, you’re guided into a trance whereby your unconscious mind can be accessed. This is where many negative behaviours and thought processes are formed and can be altered. For weight loss, your relationship with food can be changed so that emotional eating is no longer controlling your eating habits.
Ready to start changing your relationship with food? Get in touch with me today to see how hypnotherapy can help you to stop overeating.