How to Survive the Holiday Season
As the year comes to a close, parties, celebrations, and Christmas are just around the corner. Oftentimes this can provide people with an unnecessary amount of angst regarding their training/nutrition. Usually one of two attitudes surface – either, “I’ll write off December and get stuck back into it in the New Year”, or, “I’m not slipping up even once this Christmas. Armed with a set of kitchen scales and a zip-lock back of almonds and turkey breast, I’ll survive even the most treat-filled Christmas celebration”.
This post contains a few tips to help you kick back and enjoy yourself, without taking it to an extreme on either end of the scale.
1. Life is Not a Zero-sum Game.
A zero-sum game is where a gain or loss for one party is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of other parties. Essentially, for one person to win, the other person has to lose.
Without being consciously aware of it, it can be easy to get locked in a zero-sum game with yourself. This often manifests itself as going all-in on either gluttony or restriction. To alleviate this, understand that one day of eating cakes, sweets, extra food, and alcohol doesn’t qualify for a loss of progress on the short term (in writing off a whole day), nor the long term (a whole week or month).
Consider the adage “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself.
2. The days are no different.
What I mean by this is, just because a day signifies a specific event, doesn’t mean that it is different in any other way to the days preceding or following it. Christmas Day often coincides with a broad array of foods, and usually in large quantities. Whilst still understanding that Life is Not a Zero-sum Game, bear in mind that eating for eating’s sake is not the logical end-state.
Christmas Day is just a day. It has a lunch, just like every other day. Eat the food that is on the table, and enjoy a bit of everything. Even go back for a bit more, should you be so inclined. However, don’t let the fact that it’s Christmas Day hide the fact that eating four lunches is weird.
3. Food is amoral.
There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food. Assigning emotional qualities to inanimate objects is something that humans do to create mental shortcuts which assist with decision making. However, this is misguided and inaccurate, proven by the fact that an inanimate object lacks any capacity that would afford it the ability to be either “righteous” or “evil”.
Rather than categorising or assessing foods as either good or bad, consider what it is that the food actually provides. Usually this is nourishment or enjoyment, and the two are not mutually exclusive. Being able to find foods that you enjoy eating that also provide you with nourishment is a primary goal of ours, as food should be enjoyed. Our prescription of eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar, provides a foundation of nutritious foods upon which you have a large amount of freedom to build upon. In keeping with point 1., know that a step outside of these parameters is absolutely permitted, and in fact, is encouraged.
Whilst there may be a source of food that provides you with a greater nutritional density, this is not the only criteria by which we assess value. Considering a food as ‘bad’ and attaching the negative connotation to yourself if you eat it can be a counterproductive approach to eating. If you do feel fenced in by rules about what you can and can’t eat, please reach out to a trainer.