We have a guest post for you this week, from Lizi Jackson-Barrett, The Naked Goals Coach

You’ve probably noticed… Christmas is nearly here.

It’s often a time of over-indulgence that can be hard to turn down. Chocolates, mince pies and cream liqueurs; staying in pyjamas and not moving from the sofa; huge meals and three helpings of dessert… the temptation is there to say “yes” to everything.

But what if that’s not what you really want? What if you don’t want to undo the hard work you’ve put into making positive changes; and what if you don’t want to throw your good intentions out of the window? What if you’d like to reach January and not feel bad about the choices you’ve made over the last month?

I’ve got good news: festive self-sabotage isn’t inevitable. You can choose how to play it. As a mindset coach, I specialise in helping people take control of their own choices, and one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to spend some time writing down what your goals are. Imagine it’s January and you’re looking back – what would you like to say you’ve achieved? Perhaps you want to maintain your current fitness levels, or maybe you want to allow yourself to indulge in foods you wouldn’t usually let yourself eat? Or maybe your priority is to make time for some relaxation, or to get the kids out of the house over the holidays? There are no right or wrong answers – whether you exercise daily or have Christmas pudding for breakfast each morning – the only thing that matters is that you are happy and don’t end up feeling regretful of your choices.

And once you know your goals – how are you going to achieve them? I’m going to share with you three tried-and-tested tips for avoiding self-sabotage this Christmas:

1. Don’t think about a Christmas Tree

I mean it – don’t. No matter what you do, don’t picture a lush green tree draped in tinsel and fairy lights. Don’t imagine the pine scent, or the prickly feeling under your fingers. Don’t picture presents wrapped underneath it, or a shining star on top. Think about anything else. Just don’t think about a Christmas Tree.
It’s impossible isn’t it? The more you try not to think about something, the more you do. The same goes for food. When you feel the call of the fridge, telling yourself not to think about it just makes you want it more and in the end, you’re more likely to give in. And telling yourself you’re not allowed something is even worse. The more you try to tell yourself “no” the harder it is to resist.
Instead, tell yourself: “If I really want this in half an hour I can have it” – and mean it. If after thirty minutes you’re still craving it then allow yourself to eat it, free from guilt. But you will almost certainly find that by taking the pressure off, you’ll have forgotten all about it and half an hour will come and go without you even noticing.

2. Use “coulds” instead of “shoulds”

We often think of our goals in terms of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”.
“I should go to the gym”, “I shouldn’t eat carbs”, “I should record my calorie intake”. But a lot of us are wired to rebel against should. “Should” disempowers us – it comes from something external. That could be a diet programme, a friend, an opinion of how your body should look.
Replace your “shoulds” with “coulds” and your view of the situation changes instantly. “I could record my calories” or “I could choose not to eat carbs”… it’s a very different way of thinking when you’re used to shoulds. “Coulds” puts you back in control of your decisions, and instead of making you respond with an “I don’t want to” attitude, it forces you into a position of having to think things through and make an adult decision.And think about the stresses of Christmas too. We can really make life difficult for ourselves with “shoulds”! “I should spend more on the kids’ presents; I should serve three desserts at Christmas dinner; I should visit my in-laws”. Using “coulds” instead changes everything!

3. Ask yourself “Is it worth it?”

Deciding when to succumb to temptation is all about weighing up the benefit against the cost.
Let’s say you’re baking Christmas cookies with the kids, for example. Is it worth eating one when they come out of the oven? Probably not. The point of the exercise was to spend quality time together, making memories, building their skills, helping them to be creative. The children will have enjoyed it regardless of whether you eat the end product. Is it really worth sabotaging your goals for a cookie? Probably not.
But how about if your grandma turns up to Christmas lunch with her homemade Christmas cake? And what if her cake is always utterly delicious? How about if eating a slice of that cake transports you back to childhood, filling you with warm and happy memories? That’s probably worth it.
Simply stopping to ask yourself this question before you eat will make all the difference to the choices you make… because it stops the mindless eating we can all be guilty of and makes it a conscious decision instead.

If you found this advice helpful, read on!

My eBook “Avoid Festive Self-Sabotage” gives you fifty pages of advice, techniques, and strategies just like these. It will help you to explore the justifications you give yourself for overeating; get crystal clear on what goals you’re aiming for; know how to get the right support from the right people; learn how to interrupt your self-sabotage cycle, and lots more! It’s written in a friendly and non-judgmental way with one sole aim – to get you to 2019 feeling happy, confident, gorgeous and in control.
And when you enter the discount code TOWIC at the checkout, you’ll get 20% off! Get yours here to get started today on making this Christmas one that leaves you feeling amazing!

You can find Lizi on Facebook, or reach her via her website

Food images courtesy of Meliz Cooks and used with permission