Wait! Before you crack open that half-eaten box of Turtles to pop "just one" in your mouth, ask yourself: Does any part of you really want to eat it? Or are you eating it because it's there? Or because "you might as well" since, over the last few days, you've most certainly undone any dietary successes you may have had in this entire calendar year?
No judgement: I had Turtles for breakfast today too. But I didn't actually WANT them.
You guys know that I'm not a stickler for sticking to diets, especially around the holidays. Eat whatever you like at Christmas dinner. Avail yourself of the full-fat egg nog and, yes, add rum to it. Chocolates, cookies - go for it. When else are you literally surrounded by your favourite treats? It's fun and indulgent and life is too short to not have a little of that in it.
As I shared in my Metabolic Flexibility video, you can only gorge so much. Truthfully, if you allowed yourself to eat everything you wanted for as long as you wanted, I think you'd find that you'd max out on that desire very soon. (Sidebar: this does not apply to those who have clinical overeating disorders.)
Which is why at this point, on December 27th, I sincerely doubt that you actually want that piece of chocolate.
Right now is the in-between times: the 5 days in between Christmas and the last hurrah of the holiday season: New Year's Eve and all the partying that goes along with it. And then New Year's Day. The day that we are supposed to collectively and spontaneously turn over a new leaf.
If you ask me, right now is a sweet opportunity to dial back into wellness for a minute before we fall right back off the wagon for that big night of partying on the 31st. I don't want you to be a stick-in-the-mud at your NYE party, just as I didn't want you to be "that guy on a diet" at your Christmas dinner table. I want you to have fun!
By taking just a few quick, easy, cleansing steps right now, we can refresh and renew ourselves and feel brand new again, just in time for that one last throw-down of 2016.
As a bonus, maybe you'll come into 2017 feeling less like a lump of goo, and more inspired to make the big, bold health and lifestyle changes that are on your radar.
6 Steps to Undo Whatever you might have Undone Over Christmas
I use the term "toxin" very rarely and very loosely in my health coaching practice because heaven forbid I should come across sounding like a nutrition hippy. But, not surprisingly, flushing your system with water has a really amazing dilution effect on all the sugar, salt, and - well - crap that is clogging up your system. Drink water. Rehydrate yourself. Pee away the bad decisions. I'm not calling it a "cleanse," but you can if you want to.
Drink green tea
Green tea is such a great health tool - that is, if you like the taste of it. I drink it by the gallon every day, but I have heard its flavour likened to "dirty lake water" and... I can't really disagree with that (I grew up in lake country so maybe I like the taste of dirty lake water?). Green tea is packed full of antioxidants - so much so, in fact, that it usually finds itself on most "superfoods" lists. It also has appetite regulation properties, and is known to be anti-inflammatory. Speaking of which...
Honourable mention: Turmeric tea
Turmeric is hot right now. Even the mainstream health and medical community is raking notice of its impressive anti-inflammatory abilities. When we "don't feel awesome," we can often attribute that to inflammation. The days following a sugar binge like Christmas most certainly leave us feeling that way, and for good reason: sugar is one of the most inflammatory anti-nutrients that makes its way into our mouths. So, dialling up the turmeric will help you dial down the inflammation that all that sugar has unleashed in you. They make turmeric herbal teas now and they';re spicy and lovely. No dirty lake water here, and you'll feel better.
Do one HIIT workout
Yep, just one. Proper HIIT should only be do-able once every 5 days or so anyway. DO it today and get it out of the way; it will suck in the moment, but the incredible thing about HIIT is how un-freaking-believable you feel afterward. And it only takes 15 minutes from start to finish to get an amazing HIIT workout.
Treadmill sprints. Stairs. A high intensity circuit class at your gym of choice. A game of racquetball... Make it short, and very, very intense. There are literally hundreds of different ways to do HIIT, and you can absolutely find something that is aligned with your personally preferred way of moving. Someday I'll publish the huge blog post I'm working on: 101 Different Ways to "Do Sprints" (90 of which don't involve sprinting at all); but in the meantime, Google's got your back.
Here's how I do my treadmill sprints:
I crank the treadmill up to 10 miles per hour. I jump on and sprint for 30 seconds, then jump off and rest for 30 seconds, or 45 seconds - or longer if I need to. Repeat for, I don't know 8 times? Sometimes 6... Sometimes 10. Depends on how I'm feeling. Do not worry about your work:rest ratio. Do not worry about doing a specific number of rounds. It barely matters. The only thing that matters in HIIT is the intensity of your effort. Go as hard as you can for as long as you can, and recover until you can go hard again.
Please note that treadmill sprints are a little scary unless you're pretty comfortable jumping onto and off of a fast-moving treadmill belt. But you could follow the same pattern I described above with a skipping rope, a kettlebell swing, burpees, stationary bike sprints, etc, etc, etc, etc.....
Get amazing sleep
Commit to this. This changes the game. I dare say that we will struggle to move the needle on any health change if we don't strive to get good quantity and quality of sleep every night.
Erin's top tips for Sleep Hygiene:
Get 8 hours of sleep at night, even if you believe that you only need 5 or whatever. Try for 8.
Avoid eating fewer than two hours before bed. Help the body wind down by not asking it to digest food while you try to sleep. This rule is also important with regard to insulin sensitivity and fat storage; eating too close to bedtime surges insulin at a time of day when cortisol is also naturally on the rise, and this combination is a formula for fat storage.
Avoid working, exercising or embarking on any quasi-“stressful” activities on the body or mind fewer than two hours before bed.
Begin dimming household lights two hours before bed. Gradually create darkness around you to mimic the setting of the sun, which triggers our diurnal sleep response at a cellular level.
Begin to reduce your exposure to blue light such as those from the TV, computer or smart phone screens - at least two hours before bed. Blue light is completely artificial and our brains don’t exactly know what to do with it. Checking your phone while lying in bed is one of the worst culprits. Even if you don’t outright feel the “stress” of it, your brain is disabled from switching off as it needs to.
Sleep in a completely pitch black room.
Keep your bedroom slightly cool.
Eliminate all source of noise; consider wearing earplugs.
Consider your sleep environment: the quality of your mattress, your pillow, your bedding.
Lavender has a calming, sleep-inducing effect; a lavender satchel in your pillowcase can be beneficial.
Consider adding a magnesium supplement or epsom salt bath before bed. Magnesium is the “stress and sleep mineral” and everyone can benefit from supplementation, especially those who have poor quality sleep.
Chamomile tea is a great sleep aide that has the added benefit of being a soothing pre-bedtime ritual.
I almost can't believe my fingers just typed that, but if you feel crappy and run down: a solid blast of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) is what your body is asking for. Buy or DIY a pressed juice, or consider blending your own at home in the blender. Do not add almond milk. Just blend a bunch of fruits and veggies with a bit of water and drink it up. It probably wont taste super delicious, but your body will soak up the micros.
But don't live on juice.
Honestly, one small 8-ounce juice per day or every other day is as much juice as I'm comfortable with. Recognize that there is a serious sugar hit with a pressed or blended fruit/veg juice. ("But they're natural sugars!" All sugar is natural. That doesn't make it okay.)
Try going "low-ish carb" for the next 5 days
I can definitely feel that my body is craving more carbohydrate than normal, and that's because I indulged in a lot more than I typically eat. Carb cravings/car addiction is very real, and it has a snowball effect. Eating carbs makes you want to eat more. Put the brakes on this cycle cold-turkey (literally) by eating all those turkey leftovers in your fridge. Focus on fat and protein as you fuel sources. Stop the carb train in its tracks.