best christmas ever

Some of us spent a lot of time planning and preparing for Christmas. We decided which family members to invite, who to visit, what food to buy, and ofcourse which gifts to get. There are so many things to do and when it gets to the day after Boxing Day, you might be forgiven for wondering if it was all worth it.

I hope you had a very lovely time this year and if you are like me, you still consider it to be Christmas through to Twelfth Night. For most people it never quite works out as planned. Life goes on, in spite of Christmas. You might suddenly find your plans thrown by unexpected illnesses, or car breakdowns or other ‘stuff’. Even if you were lucky enough to escape without the traditional Christmas trip to A&E (I didn’t) you will likely find that some things went better than expected and others went off like a damp cracker.

So here is a crazy thought. Why not, right now, write it all down.

In a journal, or your diary or just in a notebook, write down exactly what happened this Christmas. Make a promise with yourself that next year you will read what you have written and consider planning your holiday period differently.

How to get the best out of Christmas

Here are some suggested things you could ask yourself to get the ideas flowing.

  1. Write down your best moments and experiences. It is really important to do this now, before you forget. It can be so easy for you to choose to remember the bad things better than the good. There are usually lots of great memories at Christmas. From seeing the faces of the children as they open their gifts, to enjoying a laugh in charades. Even that great film you watched or your walk in the morning. These are the real highlights, regardless of how they fitted in to your original intentions. Make sure you record them. Reading over these notes can enable you to relive those pleasures.
  2. Write down the things that you think really mattered to you this Christmas. Was it getting the gift you always wanted, or was it the Turkey, or was it the Church service or the charity work you did. What was really important this Christmas?
  3. What wasn’t important? Did you end up buying lots of chocolates and sweets, only to find that everybody was too stuffed to enjoy them. Perhaps you bought your child a games console and found he spent most of Christmas playing with the yoyo that came in his Christmas cracker at lunch? Maybe you overindulged on wine or rich food to the point where you started to feel uncomfortable and regret it?
  4. What was missing? Who should have been there but wasn’t? What, when you got to the 27th December, made you feel you had missed out?
  5. How would you have done it differently? In an ideal world, what would your Christmas be like? Be really adventurous with this. There is no harm in imagining the Christmas that would be perfect for you. Would it be just you and your partner in front of a log fire? Would you have just cut and run and spent it in the Canaries? What could you change or add to your Christmas plans next year that might take you closer to the Christmas that you really want?
  6. How much did it all cost? The average family spends about £800 each Christmas. Some spend much more and any people take out loans to achieve this too. What did you spend your money on and was it worth it? While there are many unmissables that for some make Christmas complete, I wonder how many presents you will tuck away in a drawer, donate to charity shops or, worst of all possible fates, add to the annual re-gifting circuit? How many left-overs are you still working through or have you had to throw away? What did you buy that will sit in the fridge for a year waiting for you to throw it in the bin on 1 December because it is out of date?

Work through these questions and add any ideas of your own to make a complete review of your Christmas celebrations. Promise yourself that you’ll look at this again near the end of next year and pay attention to what you have learned. It will really help you to focus on a trimmed down (or up-sized) celebration. It could also help with your arguments with others to have a written record of what was good and bad this year.

Tagged with: , , , ,

Weight-loss at Christmas is something of a nightmare. Someone told me the other day that in order to burn off the calories gained by eating just one mince pie you would have to complete about 25 minutes of Burpees.
Now, if you have ever tried to do a burpee you will know that this is not something you want to spend time on over Christmas.
The thing about a calorie control diet is that it focusses on just that one thing – calories. Our thinking around calories tends to be:

calories in = bad; calories burned = good

If you’re a fan, as I am – the fact that a mince pie is a gorgeous hit of spicy fruity sweetness and we are saying ‘hello’ to a potentially lovely time of year when we have our first one, doesn’t enter into the equation.
In our minds it probably looks more like this:Read more »

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ghost of Christmas PastI know, I know – you’ve probably seen a dozen New Year blogs, New Year products and other activities based around the idea that now is the time to change yourself.

Thing is, it is true. Now is not the only time when you can take hold of your life and really get to grips with the changes, but in many ways it is the best time. Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a delightful tale that can be seen as one man’s epiphany through the lessons of the three ghosts. It’s a bit of a stretch but I’ve used these three ghosts to show why, even though it is a cliche, this is certainly the best time to make those big changes in your life.

Read more »

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas giftsChristmas is about giving. It is easy to forget that when you look at the advertising of some commercial companies that suggest you ‘treat yourself for Christmas’.
I’m sure that Christmas is not about treating yourself. If you want to really make a difference this Christmas, buy some thoughtful presents, send beautiful cards, and try some of these subtler and more selfless gifts too:Read more »

Tagged with: , ,

Christmas treeThe endless pattern of life repeats itself, year on year, and here we are again with Christmas approaching inexorably.  For me it is still a wonderful time and no matter how aware you are of the commercialism and the hype, you can’t help but feel excited. It is a time of reconnecting with loved ones; a time of peace, and a time of fun and humour.

Why then, oh why, does it have to be so blooming stressful?

Like so many things in life we get tied up with a few things.  For example:

  • Habits
  • Details
  • Past experiences
  • Expectations

So here are some tips that might help make Christmas a smoother, more enjoyable experience for you and your loved ones.Read more »

Tagged with: , , , , ,

One of the things I love about working as a life coach and therapist is the wonderful variety of people I meet. A key presupposition in my work is that ‘everybody is doing the best they can with the resources they have available’.

From this perspective it becomes so much easier to relate and sympathise with clients whatever their problem.

Take a case I dealt with a few years ago. Naturally I have given the client a fictitious name to protect his identity:

Case Study: Stephen Nicklaus – Father

When Stephen came to me, he was in a rut.

My first thought was that he might have a dietary problem. He was grossly overweight for his height, with cellulite that was frankly like a bowlful of jelly and although he would not admit it, I suspected, by his red nose that he had a bit of a drink problem.

He seemed to have a poor self-image and had become accustomed to wearing the same red overalls day-in day-out, black wellingtons, and I seriously doubt he ever trimmed his beard.

It is not my place to make judgements, but to listen to my clients and ask questions until I have a clear picture of their ‘map’ or model of the world. So I asked Stephen to park his sleigh outside, tether his reindeer, and tell me about his problem

Well, it turns out that Mr Nicklaus is very comfortable about his size, drinks only during the festive season, and is rather proud of his dress sense.

Stephen’s real problem is that he appears to suffer from a rare psychological condition – he is a manio-kleptic.

Closely related to a more well-known affliction, kleptomania, meaning to compulsively walk into places and steal things, manio kleptic means one who walks backwards into places and leaves things. And Mr Nicklaus had it bad.

As I questioned him a frightening story developed of a long life of nocturnal raids on poor unsuspecting families, sneaking into their homes and depositing piles of technology, toys and footwear in their living rooms and bedrooms. These poor people must have felt violated, tarnished, dirty.

I had to help him.

We established a pattern to his behaviour – it seemed to occur on only one day each year, so there was ample opportunity to reframe his actions in the context of when he didn’t have the problem.

We also had a first event of sorts, though it was a bit puzzling, a past-life experience involving some gold, frankincense and myrrh. But I always use what the client gives me – Timeline Therapy(TM) sounded like a good place to start – though I would need to deal with anger, sadness, fear and guilt first and there seemed to be all sorts of hangups about being able to see in the dark, sealed chimney flues and on one occasion the overindulgence of some mince pies and misplacing of a carrot.

I was all set to start the therapy, but then it all went belly up as they say.

Ecology, dammit!

“Is it alright with your unconscious mind to make these changes now?” I asked him, as I ask every client.

He looked at me, and his cheeks flamed an even deeper rosy red.

“Erm, no. Now I come to think of it mate. I do’t think it is. Something tells me it just wouldn’t be right for me. I think on some level I sort of need to do it. It makes the rest of me year seem worthwhile. Without my maniokleptia I would just be some bloke who keeps reindeer and dresses funny. It’s a part of me. I could just as soon shave off me beard.”

I looked at him and saw that he was right. We shook hands and he left.

Looking back. I think it went quite well – don’t you?

Sign-up for my 5 email weight-loss series

Add your details here to get 5 emails over 5 days giving insights on how you can change your thinking on losing weight and getting in shape.

Thanks for subscribing, you will get your first email soon!

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,