Top tips for a lean and mean Christmas

Top-Tips-for-a-Healthy-ChristmasThe festive season is here!!! It can be ignored no longer.  The trees, decs and crazy lights are in every possible urban orifice. The work doos are booked, the party and Christmas social invites are flooding in and the ‘who’s going to who’s for Chrimbo dinner’ family domestics, have long since been discussed and planned.

Christmas means different things to different people.  For some it’s a religious time, for some it’s a time to spend quality time with your nearest and dearest, for some it’s a long awaited break, for some it means party central and for most it means food, lots and lots of rich sumptuous food.

If you got your health and fitness mojo fired up this year and are easily slipping into your fave pair of skinny jeans, or moving closer to your dream body/fitness/health goals, then you may see the Christmas season approaching with mixed feelings. On one hand with excitement for the forthcoming hols and celebrations, but on the other hand with fear and trepidation of potentially undoing all your good progress with too much of a good thing.

So Christmas is a coming but us goosies ain’t getting fat.  No sireee…….because I’m gonna equip you with my top tips for how to get through Christmas without your waistband expanding and come out the other side not needing to visit the January sales searching for the next size up.

  • Have a Christmas affirmation.

Bag yourself a positive affirmation to keep your willpower up there with the Christmas Angels.  An affirmation is a positive statement that you repeat and remind yourself of continually to keep you on track with your goals, values and priorities.  It could be a famous mantra that you love, or one of those motivational quotes that get posted on facebook, or something that you create and is personal to you and your situation. Whatever floats your boat and pushes your buttons, but create a statement that ignites your determination and willpower over the Christmas period.    Something along the lines of – “You can have the christmas fun without the muffin top. Make wise choices.” or “Remember how good healthy, fit and vibrant feels and remember how bad being stuffed, hungover and a size bigger feels.”

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Once you’ve decided on your affirmation plaster it everywhere.  Stick post-it’s around the house, on your bedroom mirror, the door of the fridge, kitchen cupboards, dashboard of the car, your desk at work, maybe even put it as a daily reminder pop up on your phone or computer.  It might sound a bit overkill but lets face it we’re surrounded by Christmas tasty treats and tipples to tempt us so why not surround ourselves with little reminders of why moderation and willpower are an important ingredient to getting through to the other side of the New Year without carrying some extra Chrimbo bootie.

  • Eat Mindfully.

By eat mindfully I mean really think about what you are consuming.  If you’ve read my ‘Keep Calm and Be Mindful’ post you’ll know a little about what Mindfulness is about and it applies to eating too.  We are surrounded by tasty treats at every twist and turn of the Christmas festivities and they seem to begin earlier and earlier each year.  A bowl of chippies on the coffee table, a plate of mince pies and sausage rolls in the staff room, a bumper box of chocs that someone brought into work to spread the Christmas cheer, or even post work drinks to celebrate the holiday season (that often come with more chippies and nibbles).  All this festive fare is lurking ominously, just waiting to sit on our butt.  It’s just so easy to pop it in your mouth without even thinking.

santa-apple-250x250Have you ever been to a cocktail party, or work Christmas function and been standing around chatting, glass of bubbles in one hand and inadvertently swiped a few canapés from a passing platter without thinking before you can say ‘Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer’.  It’s often the calories we consume without event thinking that are our undoing.

Even by cutting out the mindless eating where the treats aren’t part of our meals or planned snacks will result in some serious damage limitation. So before you bite down on that Ferrero Rocher (which could really be spoiling you) – stop and think about whether you really want it and whether you want it more than slipping effortlessly into your little black party number.

  • Project yourself into the future.

How often have you got to January and felt the effects of too much Christmas cheer both physically and mentally.  At that moment, when the clothes maybe feel a little tighter or your gym work out feels harder do you wish you hadn’t partied quite so hard or gone for that extra helping of Pavlova.

So try this.

Find a quiet place on your own, take a few deep breathes, relax and close your eyes.  Now visualize yourself and how you would feel and look a month from now, with 4 weeks of crappy food, late nights and minimal exercise apart from maybe a game of charades and New Year congo dancing .  How do you feel? How do you look?  Does it feel uncomfortable?  At a guess I’m thinking that’s probably yes for most of you reading this.

Alternatively, visualise yourself a month from now having made good clean food choices over Christmas, maybe a couple of tipples and a little of what you fancy but in controlled small amounts.  You’ve still kept up your workouts and even if you’ve been away you managed to get in some walks, runs, press ups, squats stretching etc most days. How much better would you rather feel mid January?  Hold on to those feelings and that visual and use it to encourage you to make good choices.

  • Try some clean eating Christmas alternatives.

I have to admit I LOVE a lot of the traditional Christmas foods.  In fact I just love food full stop.  What keeps me on the straight and narrow with my eating plan is experimenting with clean eating versions of my favourite foods.  That way I get my fix and feed my soul without feeling deprived which is a biggie for me.32346_421055217947994_1779599409_n

So have a think about how you can give your much-adored Christmas fare a clean eating make over.  Go for your Turkey Dinner but load up on non starchy veggies and go easy on the potatoes with a bit of gravy on the side as a dipping sauce rather than oozing all over the plate.  Research the recipe for Christmas pudding and take on the challenge to clean it up and add your creative healthy flare – it’s actually pretty fun.  I often search the net for clean eating alternative ideas and it’s amazing how much stuff is out there.

I am a huuuuuge mince pie fan so my mission this Christmas was to give the humble Mince Pie a clean eating make over and if I don’t say so myself it was pretty darn tasty.  I created some alternatives that were sugar and gluten free and delish.   I’ve put the recipe at the bottom of this post with another one of my Christmas creations if you want to give them a whirl.

  • Plan ahead.

Planning your meals ahead is one of those ‘101 of healthy eating tips’ that you would have no doubt heard many times before, and Christmas is no exception.  You may be groaning and saying ‘but it’s Christmas – I want to be crazy and spontaneous’ and that’s ok, but there is nothing wrong with having some home roasted nuts in your bag or a clean eating versions of one your Christmas snacks.  This will help keep hunger at bay so you don’t get to the stage that you are ‘Hank Marvin Starving’ and reach for the deep fried brie when it’s offered.

If you are given the menu for the work night out – look at what healthier alternatives there are.  If there’s something you adore and really want then order it, but think about making much cleaner choices the few days before and after.  Plan your indulgences like you would your treat meals at other times of the year.  Follow the 80/20 rule with your eating; ie eat clean nutritious healthy food 80% of the time and reserve the other 20% for some Christmas yummy indulgences.

  • Shop to your strengths and weaknesses.

That pre Christmas shop can quite often be a drain on both your bank balance and your willpower.  Going up and down each aisle is a bit like running the gauntlet with strategically placed items as you enter the store and at the end of each aisle.  It’s easy to use Christmas as an excuse to go crazy on seasonal items that you wouldn’t normally buy.  Soooo – what to do?

imagesFirstly, don’t enter the shop if you’re hungry – you will have heard that many times before but it’s worth re-iterating because it’s so true.

Secondly, have a think about what your willpower weakness is when it comes to those extra tasty treats.  For example, are you the type of person that can have chocolates in the house but still eat them in moderation, or do they call to you from the cupboard demanding to be eaten all in one go.  Can you have a small portion of a specialty cheese with crackers and then put them away, or do you literally inhale a block.  If you are more on the latter and find that if it’s in the house you can not resist your chosen item of willpower weakness, then simply don’t buy it.

On the rare occasion we buy chocolate in my house I could quite happily eat 1 or 2 squares and then put it away – it will last weeks (I suck on each square – sad but true).  However, my husband Brett can literally hoover the lot in one quick sitting (and it drives him mad that I claim territorial rights on my 50% and threaten physical violence if he so much as sniffs my share – also very sad but true).

So when you go for the bonanza pre Christmas shop, think about your weaknesses and your strengths when it comes to those extra Christmas treats. If you can eat them in moderation then load them in the trolly, but, if you can’t resist them and know they might entice you to a Christmas binge fest then keep calm and step away.

  • Beware of liquid calories.

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You could eat like a saint all Christmas but if you are going hard on the eggnog, cocktails and mulled wine, or your ‘go to’ beverage of choice, then you could still be undoing all your good work.  A huge amount of calories can be consumed through the Christmas tipples but what makes it worse than having an excess of food is that these alcoholic calories provide your body with no nutritional value.

Alcohol may fuel your crazy antics so you are brave enough to get up and bust out that karaoke rendition of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ but it does not fuel your body or your fat loss goals. So if your body can’t use the calories what does it do?  It stores the calories, expanding your fat cells as well as giving you a bonus hit of trouble by adversely affecting your metabolism too, making it sluggish and unable to properly convert any food you’re consuming because the liver is in toxic overhaul.

  • Plan workouts, get creative and stay active.

It’s easy at Christmas for our workout routines and rituals to go up the swany.  So much to do, presents to buy, people to see, parties and functions to attend that where do you get the time.  Well quite frankly, you find the time.  Sorry if that comes across as a bit hard, but one of my Christmas affirmations is ‘No Excuses’.  No matter how much you have on, if keeping in shape and maintaining your fitness is important, then you plan ahead and find the time.  If it’s difficult to get to the gym you can do a home circuit, or walk to work rather than catch the bus, or pop out for a lunchtime run.  Get creative, think about how you can maybe take the kids for an outdoor fun circuit that the whole family can do.  If it’s important to you to stay in shape and not go backwards then you can plan exercise into your day just like you plan in your Christmas social functions.healthy-christmas

You might also like to set yourself some little workout challenges to keep you motivated.  Like maybe saying each morning over your Christmas holiday you’ll do 20 press ups, 20 burpees, 20 lunges and 20 squats, or you’ll cover 10,000 steps over that time.  Think of a little challenge of simple exercises that you can do every day that require no extra equipment and can be done anywhere so you can’t avoid doing them.  These little challenges will keep you inspired to stay on track with your health and fitness goals, not to mention give you a good boost of energy.

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So that’s my tips for getting your sexy ass to the other side of Christmas intact and pert.

If I sat here for longer I’m sure I could think of heaps more and you may even have a few more yourself.  If you do then post a comment and share the clean Christmas love.  Following these tips doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that Christmas is any less fun or any less special – in fact how much more rewarding and stress free would it feel without the worry of excess Christmas pounds.

Remind yourself of your Christmas affirmation, think about how much it means to you to not get to January feeling like the flump that stole Christmas.  At the end of the day the only person you are accountable to is you and the only one that can make good choices is you.  So go out and have the bestest Christmas ever – I’ll see you on the other side in 2013 looking like a hot foxy Cleopatra bouncing around with health, vitality and happiness.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Clean Christmas Mince Pies

Mince Pie Clean Eating Make Over

Ingredients (makes 6 to 8 pies)

Pastry

  • ½ cup of almond meal
  • ½ cup of coconut flour
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup of coconut oil
  • Grated Zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt

Mincemeat filling

  • 400g bag of mixed dried fruit
  • 3 apples cored, peeled and finely chopped
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 cup of red grape juice or orange juice
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of mixed spice
  • ¼ cup of finely chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup

Method

  1. Mix all of the mincemeat ingredients in a saucepan until well combined and place on the hob on moderate heat until simmering and then leave to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until apple is cooked and liquid reduced.
  2. Put all the pastry ingredients in a food processor and mix it in on a medium speed until it makes a firm dough.
  3. Roll the pastry out.  I sprinkled some buckwheat flour on the surface that I placed the pastry dough on so it wouldn’t stick.  Now be warned the pastry is quite fragile so be careful with it.
  4. Cut the pastry in circle rounds with cutter (or you can use an upturned glass).
  5. Place the pastry rounds into a greased muffin tin (or pie tin).
  6. Put a spoonful of mixture in each pie.
  7. Cut some smaller rounds for the lids and place on top of the pies.  I painted a little egg wash on to seal the lids on or you could use milk.  Press the eggs down with a fork so they are secure.
  8. Prick a couple of small holes in the top of each one with a fork and paint with egg wash.
  9. Place in the oven for 25 mins at 180 degrees celcius. (You might like to check them after 15 mins and turn the tin around to ensure an even bake – depends what your ovens like).

There was quite a bit of the mincemeat mixture left so you could save it for another batch of pies as it keeps for a while in the fridge or it’s also nice used as compote with some greek yoghurt.

Christmas Scroggin Bites

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I adapted this from a recipe I got for ‘Raspberry Ripe Bark’ from awesome health blog I recently discovered called ‘My Food Religion’ which is totally fab.  Check it out if you get a chance – the author posts LOADS of great clean eating recipes and I love her work.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 
1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 
Stevia or coconut sugar to taste
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1/3 cup of pistachios chopped
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of chopped almonds

Method

  1. Melt the coconut oil and almond butter in a saucepan over a low to moderate heat.
  2. Stir in the orange zest, cacao powder and stevia/ coconut sugar.  Mix well until the mixture is smooth and lump free.
  3. Line a tray with foil and sprinkle half the nuts and cranberries into the bottom of the tray.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the  top and then sprinkle the rest of the nuts and cranberries over the top.
  5. Place the tray in the fridge and leave to set.  Normally takes an hour or 2 but basically it needs to set solid like chocolate.
  6. Cut into small squares and enjoy.

These are best kept in the fridge so they don’t melt.  Great with a cuppa or as a little after dinner snack treat.  Enjoy.

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