Festive Feels: indulgence, guilt and motivation

Updated: Feb 18

This time of year can cause people a lot of stress because of a variety of things and i am here today to hopefully show you that it doesn't need to. I recently gave a seminar as part of Manchester Young Solicitors Group as part of their seminar series and I thought I would share it with you here and hopefully it well help make this time of year a lot easier to manage because in reality December is just another month with a few added extras.

To start lets set some things straight - food shouldn't be seen as something to fear or restrict and exercise isn't a punishment. I am a strong believer in moderation not deprivation and that being healthy isn’t all about exercise and watching what you eat. It’s about looking at your lifestyle as a whole and finding what is needed for you to be the best version of yourself and that magical word balance. We eat a variety of nutritionally balanced foods and not so nutritious foods, we move our bodies like they were made to do, we drink plenty of water and sleep even more, we socialise with friends, we spend time on our own taking some time out all in order to look after ourselves. And December is no different not really. I get that routine can go right out of the window with all the extra events and gatherings, a load more indulgent food is around and the weather is well miserable 90% of the time. However we can still achieve a kind of healthy balance in our lifestyle its all about the choices we make and even more importantly how we react to them. This post is going to focus on motivation when it comes to exercise, managing all the extra indulgence, how to stop feeling guilty and what not to do this time of year (or next year either).

Motivation tips for exercise

I am not going to preach that you need to workout in order to burn off the celebrations because I don’t believe we should look at fitness like that. Instead I want you to think about how you feel after you have exercised – accomplished, energised, happy and ready to take on the world? We exercise to keep fit and healthy and that doesn’t need to change just because the month has. So here are my tips so that you can continue to be motivated this month

Plan your workouts: Schedule your workouts into your diary like you would any other meeting and social event. If its there you are more likely to go. The best way I do this is to sit down on a Sunday evening and plan my weeks worth of workouts against everything else I have planned, this will change week to week but it is nice to have that sense of routine.

Get it done: If you can get it done first thing before you start work then it is out of the way. Its a lot easier to make excuses for not going after work, you become tired and also things can get organised on the spur of the moment for that evening. Where as if you have already been and done it that can’t happen.

Prep the night before: and on that note have your bag packed the night before and your gym kit out ready for you to get up get dressed and go.

Buddy Up: Grab a workout buddy and arrange sessions, book into a class or a PT session etc. This way you have already committed to going so it's harder to be a no show. It is a lot easier to keep motivated and push through when you are training with someone else as they spur you on - and if you are like me you get very competitive. Just having someone else with you can help keep you accountable which helps with the motivation.

Finally – Make sure you enjoy it: Exercise should be enhancing your lifestyle so do it in forms that you enjoy because you will alot more motivated to continue with it. It's all about moving our bodies to keep active and well so why waste your time hating it.

A tip: If you are short on time look at concise workouts such as circuits or HIIT, pick 5 exercises 3-4 rounds 12-15 reps of each and you are done.

Managing the extra indulgence

From the advent calendars to the tubs of celebrations in the office to the 3 course dinners to after work Christmas drinks to the mince pies and cheese and crackers there is a little bit extra in the form of indulgence this time of year. There is no need to restrict yourself from having any of it but at the same time you don’t need to go mental over it. There is definitely a bit of an all or nothing mentality around Christmas – why have one chocolate when you can have a whole box hey??

When in reality what I tell my clients and what I follow is the have a bit of what I fancy mentality. What are your favourite parts of festive foods? What do you really enjoy? Because that is what you should have and the bits that you don’t really care so much about you just say no.

You can also say no – no one will judge you for saying no to that bit of cake, extra chocolate, drink if you really don’t want them then don’t have them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation you just do you.

As long as the majority of what you are eating and drinking is benefiting you and your health there is nothing wrong with indulging now and then.

No food is bad or good, you are not a terrible person for having a chocolate or eating a little more than you usually do. It’s just life and it goes on. Pick the foods and drinks you enjoy, say no to ones you don’t and enjoy the time of celebration and relaxation.

It’s time to avoid the guilt of eating and exercise.

Every decision you make is your own so embrace it and own it. There is no point feeling guilty over something that has been gone and you can’t change. There is absolutely nothing wrong with skipping a workout because you would rather go and catch up with your friends. There is nothing wrong with having chocolate alongside your lunch or breakfast. These are all choices you decide to make so please take away the guilt because its not worth it.

If you do over indulge for a couple of hours or days it hasn’t ruined anything, just adjust accordingly and move on. If you miss a workout or choose not to do one because you would rather sleep in or see friends it isn’t the end of the world. The worst thing you can do is punish yourself for it by over exercising or under eating the next day to compensate.

This time of year is all about spending time with friends and family and celebrating so relax and enjoy it. As we get closer to the big day and things slow down let yourself chill out and go with the flow. It’s 1-2 weeks of a 52 week year it won’t do that much harm I promise you. It is about finding your balance and what works best for you, your goals and your life - no need for the extremes.

It doesn’t help that we are bombarded with media telling us to exercise to burn off food and diet before Christmas ready to binge on the day and then diet. Which is not healthy by the way, it creates a negative relationship with food and exercise. Food because a mind field and exercise becomes punishment when both are essential for us to stay alive. You exercise to be fit healthy and strong. You eat to fuel your body and enjoy the variety of flavours and foods on offer. Neither of these are a negative so please don’t think that they are.


Lose weight purely for the sake of being "Christmas ready". You do not need to lose weight for Christmas – the mentality of dieting so that you can stuff yourself and then diet again is not healthy. Instead if you maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle day to day then moments like this are a lot easier to adjust to. And then you are less likely to have a binge like mentality because you don’t restrict anything.

Over exercise to burn / work off any calories. It’s not worth it, instead focus on moving daily and be as active as you can. If you want to work out around Christmas do it if you want to just chill do it – your choice your rules just drop the punishment ok.

Post Christmas you don’t need a new year detox, quick fix diet or gruelling training plan. Our bodies are very clever we have our liver and kidneys that detox naturally for us. They will also fall back into their usual rhythm when you fall into your normal routine of eating and training.


Remember it is only 2-3 weeks in an entire year don’t be too hard on yourself, make the memories you will look back on a smile – you won’t look back and worry about the workouts you missed or food you over indulged in.

Remember you are in control of what you do, you make the decisions so you need to own them and embrace them. Remove the guilt, stop seeing things as good and bad and start seeing it as your choices.

Focus on your overall health, Do what makes you feel good, do what makes you happy and most of all do what you feel is best for your physical and mental health.

Ignore the media diet BS. Instead remember it is just another month where you carry on as normal: eating a variety of nutritious foods, moving as much as you can, getting plenty of sleep and hydrating as best you can. There are just a few added extras here and there.


I really hope this helps you in some way and if you have any questions or tips you want to give yourself leave them in the comments below

Love Vicki xxx

#healthyandhappy #healthyliving #fitness #findyourbalance #weblognorth #health #wellness #justdoyou

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