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Hello everybody and happy Monday!

The holiday season is upon us and for me, I find it the hardest season which really pushes me and tests everything I have worked hard for over the past two and a half years. This christmas will be the first in a few years where I refuse to let my eating disorder get the better of me and control my happiness and allow myself to relax.

The way I have chosen to live my life does not mean I have to miss out on everything. It just means taking everything into moderation to achieve balance between staying active over the holidays and indulging and having fun.

Even when I am feeling ill and not 100% myself, I still make a good effort to go to the gym and train 5-6 times a week. It makes me happy, takes my mind off of things and breaks up my day nicely. Therefore this ethic won't fade just because it is the holidays! Over the holidays I have allowed myself to take Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off because this is family time, no excuses. Being around family is my favourite part about christmas (I say that then I think about my Nan's roast dinner) and I do not need to sacrifice time spent with them to train.

Joking aside, family is the most important thing in the world so when I come home from university for christmas I love to spend as much time with them as I can and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are my two days of rest to be completely care free. I will only loosely be using my fitness pal app to track what I am eating and I will neither restrict myself or go over board, simply because I know my body and how it feels when I do either.

You should never feel "guilt" when it comes to food because that is a seriously dangerous path that will only go further and further downhill, trust me, I know. If you are into your training or just starting out then good for you. You are out there doing your thing and that really is great that you have found something that works for you. However if Christmas being around the corner is sending you into a slight panic or struggle about how to fit in your training, how to still hit your macros or eat well then please understand that a couple of days off will not ruin your physique and everything you have worked hard for. Sometimes you deserve a break and only you can determine how long that break needs to be.

I get told far too often that I need to take a break, calm down with training, work, studying etc, the list goes on. However, I understand my body and I know when it is tired and when it's just feeling unmotivated. Sometimes I find that if I don't push myself, how will I know what my limits are? YOU are in control of what you eat and what YOU do over the holidays. It is therefore up to you how you treat your body before and after christmas in order to compensate for a couple of days off in between and possibly eating more than you usually would during your average day.

Considering how we are now into the final couple of weeks until Christmas, there are steps that I will be taking now in order to not lose all that I have worked for and send myself into a panic at the sight of food.

I will be participating in more cardio and HIIT classes than I usually do, aiming to be doing this twice to three times a week if possible around my busy work schedule. This is to burn off excess fat and still retain my muscle mass, continuing to build on this by strength and weights based training. I have put together gruelling workouts for glutes, upper body, strength and legs focusing on high intensity and multiple rounds. This breaks up from my usual workouts so therefore challenges and improves my body and its capabilities.

Food wise in preparation for a couple of cheat days at Christmas I have a higher intake of vegetables and proteins compared to carbs. I STILL EAT CARBS. Do not take this blog as me telling you what to and what not to eat, never cut anything from your diet if you want to remain sustainable, I cannot stress that enough. I source my carb intake from whole carbs anyway. I very rarely ever have refined carbs which makes my life a lot easier at this time of the year because there is not a lot of changes I need to make in preparation for a healthier christmas cut. Nonetheless, the whole carbs I stick to and enjoy a lot more include a lot of vegetables, legumes such as lentils and kidney beans etc which I find are perfect to bulk up a meal and help you to feel more full and satisfied in the winter, seeds such as chia and flax which I religiously put in all of my oat bowls, grains such as oats, which I have in the morning and sometimes at night if I am feeling peckish for dessert, quinoa and brown rice and I must say since trying these a few years ago, I have never seen the fascination or fuss over white rice and chips (unless they are sweet potato or a treat).

Unless you are undergoing prep for a competition of some kind then food should really be the least of your worries over Christmas. You have all year to work hard on yourself a day off here and there will not turn your body into mush. Focus on spending time with those who matter, make memories and be thankful for all that is around you. I strongly believe that if I can pick myself up and out of a hole that was only getting deeper, then anyone can. You just need time to workout what is worth living for, for me that was my family.

Until next time,

J x

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