December comes around and social calendars fills rapidly. Family plans, work parties and evenings of over indulgence, it’s easy to allow healthy habits to slip; and in turn, the trajectory towards health and wellness goals is disrupted.
Here are a few strategies to maintain momentum and avoid stepping backwards.
Backload your calories:
A planned evening event entailing overeating and drinking? Try eating a small, calorie efficient breakfast and lunch. Either that or apply an intermittent fasting approach, basically refraining from eating breakfast so you can stay within your calorie goal for the day.
Carve in time for SST (Steady State Training):
Hangovers and exercise are far from friends. However, there are some styles of training that are more manageable than others. Firstly, wait until the evening, after hydrating and allowing the alcohol to be processed. Pick a piece of cardio equipment, plug in a tv show or podcast and complete 45-60 minutes of easy effort cardio. Work at a speed that keeps your heart rate below 110 beats per minute. You can easily track your HR with a smart watch or wearable monitor. This will burn calories, get the body moving and shouldn’t stress the body enough to induce dizziness or nausea.
Think of your dieting like a pendulum. Achieving consistency keeps swinging to a minimum. If you overeat and respond with a day of dramatically low food, it will only encourage the swing back to over consuming once again. A vicious circle, detrimental to positive progress.
Instead, accept the previous day and return to the diet as fast as possible, sticking to nutrient dense, whole foods.
The hangover protocol (this could be a whole blog by itself):
Eat a balanced meal (protein, fats and carbohydrates) before you have your first drink. This will slow the absorption of booze and aid in the breakdown process of ethanol. It also protects the lining of the gut that takes a beating on a night out.
During a session:
Try the 2:1 rule. Two alcoholic drinks and one soft drink. Reducing intake by 1/3 and promoting hydration, not to mention spending less!
Avoid mixing drinks. Stay on the same sauce, ideally a good quality alcohol. Clear spirits are lower in calories than beer or red wine.
Before bed, ingest an electrolyte drink, a vitamin complex and painkillers. The body depletes many vitamins and minerals while processing alcohol - so using a wide spread vitamin supplement is best.
Again, eating a balanced meal near the end of an evening will aid in the breakdown of alcohol.
The next morning:
Repeat the pre-bed routine. Rehydrating with fluids and essential minerals and vitamins. Also eat a balanced meal along with a probiotic drink like kefir. Try to do all of this before drinking coffee. Caffeine is a diuretic and encourages excreting much needed fluids.
Turn your morning shower to a cold temperature for 60-90 seconds, this will increase the blood flow to the brain and promote feelings of alertness, which can be a struggle for people after a late night.
Most importantly don’t self-loath for enjoying this period. It’s a chance to connect with friends and share good times and gifts with loved ones. Using these strategies should blunt the blade of a hangover and encourage the adherence to your goals.
As always if you need any advice on health, wellness and happiness. Don’t hesitate to ask.