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Have your christmas, and eat it


OFFSETTING INDULGENCE Arrange a family walk or meet up with a friend for a run and a coffee.

Paul O'Brien

Ah, Christmas! Yuletide cheer is in the air, the run-in has begun, and we look forward to some unwinding time. For many, this is a time to share, to reflect and to plan for life anew in 2019. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans sometimes end up at the bottom of a wine glass or the foil of that one mince pie too many! We’re left rolling into another year a little duller, and a few pounds heavier, and suddenly the impetus of a new year and what it can bring seems more like duty than opportunity.
The psychology of why we lead ourselves down this annual dark alley is a story for another time. The result though, we well know: self-criticism, low self-esteem, apathy and a mild depression. No wonder the January blues are so prevalent. How can we avoid this perennial self-torture and still enjoy our favourite indulgences over the holidays? Is that even possible?
The answer lies in perspective. Specifically, in taking a different one.
Our normal approach to Christmas is betrayed in how we talk about it. Our language is that of denial, and avoidance. We talk of not over-indulging, avoiding certain foods and eschewing drink and even social gatherings. No chocolates, less drink, avoid this and that. Well, that’s one sure-fire way of adding a lot of stress and a good dollop of boredom to your Christmas.
Turning to the experts can be less than inspiring too. Stock up on this, take these vitamins and minerals, do this and that exercise. Yes, all good advice, but we already know all this. We just don’t do it!

The six-step switch
Switching perspective can be a surprisingly powerful and very simple step in removing stress and truly letting your hair down. Here’s a simple six-step strategy to transform your Christmas.

1. Declutter now
Pick an area in your home or office that you need to clear out. Perhaps it’s paperwork that’s been there for a couple of years, or maybe it’s your bedroom wardrobe. Clearing your physical space before Christmas has a wonderful knock-on effect on your mental state.

2. Go French
They like a feast in France. Sharing a meal together is a social ritual that the French take hours to enjoy. However, they also plan smartly around it. This could mean eating a very small lunch or fasting the day before a planned meal or party. Try this around your festive feasts. For example, eat light Christmas eve and St Stephen’s Day and allow yourself your indulgences on Christmas day.

3. Give the gift of time
We’ve lost sight of much of the true meaning of this season in this commercial age. This year, instead of stressing about what to buy for whom, give the gift of your time to those you love, a gift they will always remember.

4. Unplug
If you are a heavy user of technology, schedule a few days over the holidays to switch off all your devices – no phones, no emails, no social media. After all, if you’re giving the gift of time to those who mean most to you, what need to you have of the technology?

5. Have a training plan
The aim of your Christmas health and fitness plan should be maintenance. Don’t stress about losing weight or putting it on. If you tend to overindulge on the few days around Christmas day, schedule some exercise on those days. Arrange a family walk or meet up with a friend for a run and coffee. You could also plan to do ten minutes of bodyweight exercise at home.
These simple steps will give you a different perspective built around positive habits and social connection. You’ll also be primed for a productive start to your new year.

Paul O’Brien is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise since 2007 and a qualified Life, Health & Nutrition Coach. He is co-owner of Republic of Fitness in Westport. He can be contacted on 086 1674515 or