How To Enjoy a Big Family Feast Without Compromising Your Healthy Lifestyle

The festive season can represent a big risk for anyone trying to lose or maintain their weight. How many times have you heard someone say: “I’ll wait until January to start a diet” or “I wanted to start eating healthy but I know I’ll eat a lot at Christmas so I’ll start afterwards”. If you wait for big festive events to be behind you before you start living healthier, then you might never start at all. I’m a strong believer you don’t need to wait for the new year to make good resolutions in life, the sooner the better. And if you’re already on the path to become a better version of yourself, you can still enjoy the festivities without letting them ruin your efforts.

When you think about it, why would people consciously overeat to celebrate? Surely you shouldn’t have to compromise your health to celebrate anything. I know temptation is everywhere and sometimes difficult to avoid, especially if there is a buffet in front of you (out of sight, out of mind) but you ARE strong enough to indulge yourself without feeling like a beached whale afterwards. The keyword is moderation. But I know it’s not enough to say that, so below are 4 important points that hopefully will help you keep in mind that the Christmas period doesn’t have to compromise your healthy plans.

Underestimate your food portions

I know you’re really looking forward to these Christmas delicacies, just try to put on your plate smaller portions than you would usually! When we’re hungry, we tend to overestimate the quantity of food we need and then we’re left with no choice but to keep eating after we’re already full. Putting less on your plate would allow you to ask yourself if you want more or not. And don’t worry, there will be enough food for you to come back to – actually, chances are there will be way too much food so don’t be greedy. Now, this advice sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many of us don’t listen: if you’re not hungry, do not eat. For the Christmas edition, I would go further: if there is anything you don’t like, don’t eat it! Yes, Brussels sprouts are part of the traditional British dinner but if you don’t like them, save space to enjoy other foods you really like. If you’re planning to have dessert, you don’t want to be already full by then. And when you eat, do it mindfully, take the time to really appreciate it. It’s not a quantity game and binge eating will not do you any good (even on healthy food).

Drink a lot… of water

Festivities almost always include alcohol, but drinking doesn’t make you feel fuller… Unless it’s water. If all you drink is sugary and/or alcohol, not only are you going to go way above your calorie budget but you’re going to feel dehydrated (and then drink more alcohol, you know how this works). And when you’ve had too much alcohol, you’ll make poorer choices between your food options. Try to limit your consumption of alcohol and increase your water intake. If you’re struggling with the idea, remember that water cleanses your body and is a natural hunger suppressant. It’s the number 1 thing your body needs to function properly (after the air you’re breathing obviously). Still not convinced? Take a look at how many calories each alcoholic drink contains on average. It quickly adds up.

Allow your body to digest

By that, I don’t necessarily mean vegetating in front of TV (let’s be honest, we’ve all seen Christmas movies several times, they’re not as good). Think of your body like a machine that needs to process everything you give it. If you keep feeding it when it’s already full, it won’t have time to process what it already has. Why not go for a walk to help burn some calories? It doesn’t have to be a long walk, even 30 minutes in the neighbourhood would be beneficial. If you’re bored, don’t think of food as the solution to keep yourself busy, offer to play a game that will keep everyone entertained. Remember to stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime to allow enough time for digestion. You could also prepare to fast the next day to clean up your body, or practise intermittent fasting, although this is not an ideal solution for everyone.

Learn how to say ‘no’

You will 100% be offered extra food or another glass of alcohol when you’re already full. Don’t be polite and accept because you can’t say no. Prioritise your body, not the host (I know it sounds selfish but no one else but you is responsible for your own health). People tend to insist when they’re feeling very festive but they won’t remember the next day you said no. There is nothing more unpleasant than forcing yourself, so just be honest (don’t forget to smile while doing it) and it will be all good! If there is too much food (there will be), offer to take some leftovers with you to enjoy the next day as an alternative.

Finally, I think it’s important to remind you this: don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process. Doing things in moderation shouldn’t be boring or prevent you from having fun! Remember why you’re doing this and all the benefits in the long term! Happy body, healthy mind, healthy soul, everything goes together. And if you know this time you ate more than you should have, it’s all fine, you’ll lose it naturally over time if you stick to your healthy lifestyle. Christmas is only 2 weeks away now… Do you feel you have enough mental tools to overcome the family feast this year?

Big Girl x

Christmas Tips to Have a Festive Season That Won’t Cost the Earth (literally)

It’s that period of the year when most of us consume more than usual. Maybe we could expect this Christmas to be even more shameless than usual because of what we’ve all been through with the pandemic. It’s not yet behind us but we all deserve to indulge ourselves at the end of the year, right? It feels like a legitimate reward for surviving 2020 so far. It would be great to do this without harming the planet too much though, especially if it doesn’t represent too much of a hassle. After all, Christmas is about sharing and we all have to share the same planet (at least until they find another planet we can move into… but I wouldn’t count on it too much personally).

Transport

In the UK, people are allowed to mix with 2 other households during 5 days (23rd-27th December). Chances are many will travel long distances to meet with their family and friends. Taking the plane is one of the largest carbon impacts an individual can have, so if possible it’s always better to avoid it. Sharing a car would lower the carbon footprint for each passenger and create less traffic on the roads. And if you can’t meet with everyone at the same time because of COVID restrictions this year, there is also the possibility to video chat!

Christmas food

I know it’s hard and not in line with Christmas indulgence habits, but try and estimate food portions more appropriately. Don’t over cater if there is a good chance it’s going to end up in the bin. I know it’s tradition but do you really need all these Brussel sprouts on the table (who really likes them anyway…)? Don’t forget that beef and cheese have a very high carbon footprint, so if you can think of a better alternative, go for it instead. Make sure you use leftovers after Christmas, share them around if there’s too much to eat (hence why it’s a good idea to prepare the right amount of food beforehand).

Electricity

Cooking that big turkey requires the oven switched on for hours… Which is an excellent opportunity to turn the heating off as the oven will warm up the home nicely. No one wants to wear their festive Christmas jumpers if it’s too warm inside anyway! Choose LED lights for your illuminations as they can be used for years to come.

Christmas gifts

When it comes to giving, you want to do things right. Below are a few ideas on how to make someone happy, buy smart and preserve the planet at the same time:

  • If you’re clueless what to buy, it’s a good idea to ask what they need
  • Don’t buy anything that is unnecessary or will not be used
  • Opt for gifts that are made locally and close to home
  • Think of activities or experiences like a nature day out, a cooking class, etc
  • If you’re looking for electrical equipment (such as TV, fridge, etc), pick the most energy efficient
  • Do your shopping online, it will save you a trip and reduce your emissions from travel
  • Use recyclable wrapping paper, or make your own with old newspapers, magazines, etc
This year I’m using naturally degradable craft paper to wrap my presents, before putting them under the tree (I have my little elf to help me out, as you can see).

Of course you might receive gifts that are really not good for the planet because they’re full of plastic or contain harmful ingredients, especially products for the bathroom. You can’t educate everyone on the matter and it might ruin Christmas spirit to tell them off for that mistake. Just be thankful it comes from good intentions and if you’re not happy with it, why not give them away to charity? You could also re-gift them to someone who would enjoy it more than you (no one will know unless you tell).

Christmas tree

Finally, there is also the debate: real vs fake Christmas tree. Opinions differ but no matter what you go for, there are many ways to make it more sustainable. Basically, a real tree is better for the planet but you’ll have to recycle it properly. A fake tree is also an acceptable option, as long as you’re planning to make it last at least 10 years (so pick a good quality one!).

What action(s) are you taking this year to be more environmentally friendly?

Big Girl x

Is Christmas Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

christmas season hot chocolate

Only 2 months until Christmas! But this post isn’t about telling you how excited I am about it. It’s just a post highlighting how 2020 was wasted so far… To a point I didn’t realise how quickly we ended up so close to Christmas already! I don’t want to waste any more time, time we’ll never get back.

Christmas is a season, not just a day

What I love about Christmas is the decorations in the streets, the festive mood people are in, the idea of drinking a hot chocolate (with tons of marshmallows) in front of a log fire, the snow falling outside and all the terrible Christmas movies we watch every year. Christmas is not just a day for me, it’s a season. I don’t really care about the day itself, I think “tradition” puts a lot of pressure on that specific day to be with all of your family. The idea sounds more like a chore to me.

It could be a nightmare for expats

I remember when I used to take the Eurostar every year during Christmas period to spend a few days with my family in Paris… I can assure you there was nothing festive about it, trains were always overcrowded (not to mention the huge luggage full of gifts you have to carry all along) and people were not very amicable during the journey. If anything, it ended up being the period of the year I avoided to visit family in France.

It’s actually quite nice to wander in the streets in London when everyone is busy lying on their sofa, after they’ve eaten so much food their belly is about to explode. Let’s face it, all you do during Christmas is eating, napping, repeat. And when you think about it, you don’t have to wait for that period of the year to visit family anyway. It should be whenever you want to, not whenever tradition or media tell you to.

Christmas doesn’t feel the same all over the world

For most of us in the world, Christmas is associated with cold months. If you are somewhere hot for Christmas, does it still feel the same though? Well I got to experience it for the first time last year and the answer is simple, no. I was travelling in Australia during Christmas period last year and seeing Santa wearing a pair of shorts on a beach was just weird. Just for the banter, below a picture on how Christmas projections looked like on a Church in Perth, so you can see what I mean:

Santa projected on a church in Perth

Santa doesn’t really exist

Do we really have to lie to kids about who’s giving them so many presents? Shouldn’t they know their parents and family are working hard (and sometimes saving for months) to make that happen? I really don’t see the purpose of this big fat lie as it’s always a traumatic experience for them to learn the truth when they’re “old enough”. I’m not even talking about “how” they realise their entire family lied to them for years, sometimes a school mate would deliver the truth in a very harsh way. I don’t remember having ever believed a big old bearded man would enter our home via the chimney to offer me gifts I didn’t even wish for… If you’re using Santa to make sure your kids behave, surely there is a lack of authority somewhere. But what do I know, I don’t have kids and I don’t want them.

Let’s focus on what matters

All this to conclude with one thing. Don’t let this wave of COVID infections and potential new lockdown affect your Christmas spirit. Maybe you’ll be able to be with your family, maybe you won’t. But if not, it’s not the end of the world. The important bit is to stay healthy, practise gratitude and remember there is a tomorrow. It’s up to us to make it brighter! In the meantime, good luck with all the gifts you will have to purchase, especially for the awkward Secret Santa(s) you got involved in reluctantly… You’re not alone.

Are you looking forward to Christmas 2020 the same way as every year? Or have you accepted good times are ahead, no matter what happens on that specific day?

Big Girl x

Kids or No Kids? The Choice Is Yours to Make

Kids or No Kids? You Have the Choice!

“Do you want kids?” is not a question you hear very often, because people assume that of course you do. Instead, people say: “When you’ll have kids…”, “When you’ll be a mum/dad…”, etc. Every time it puts me in a situation where I either stay quiet and let go, or say that I actually don’t want kids. But why do I feel like I need to justify myself?

It’s OK to be different

When I was a kid, I didn’t ask myself such a question because I’ve always thought it was the right thing to do, the purpose of every woman, the reason we find a partner and get married… It’s only when I turned 30 that I realised my mum would have been pregnant for the second time by that age. And I didn’t feel like I was going to be ready myself anytime soon. I heard a lot of comments such as “You’re turning 30 now, the clock is ticking!” but deep down I think I already knew it wasn’t for me.

I didn’t know for sure until my little sister fell pregnant, almost 3 years ago. She announced it with pictures and I cried when I realised she was telling me she had a bun in the oven. I cried with joy, the news made my sister and her husband so happy. But it confirmed that it wasn’t what I wanted for myself.

It’s a choice, not a duty (anymore)

It’s not because you don’t want kids that you lack empathy… People who don’t feel any desire to have kids are not selfish or cold bastards, they don’t necessarily hate kids either. It’s an important step in your life but it is NOT mandatory, just like people who choose not to get married for example.

I think there are many parents who shouldn’t have been parents, many children grow up in a toxic environment and end up with mental issues for life. Have you ever noticed that most serial killers, psychopaths or very disturbed people in general had a chaotic childhood? It’s always parents’ fault, kids can’t be held responsible for their education. I’m not saying that I don’t want kids because I’m afraid they will be disturbed, I just don’t see myself being a mother. I have two cats and that’s the extent of my motherhood. It took me a very long time until I realised it was OK. I am allowed not to want what most people want.

Think about the future

I could go on and on about how I find the idea of having your own kids very narcissistic. Our planet is already overcrowded and there are a lot of kids to adopt, if you really want to fill that role. I am lucky enough to have found a partner who shares the same opinion. Choosing not to have any is our contribution for the planet to reduce our carbon footprint. The future of next generations seems a bit compromised at the moment anyway.

The choice is (only) yours

I’m glad I was born when I was born, because I feel like the choice NOT to have kids has only just started to be an acceptable one. It’s still a sensitive topic though, people can’t help but try to make me change my mind when I tell them I don’t want kids. What annoys me the most is comments such as “You still have time to change your mind!” or “You will feel it when the time is right”. As a piece of advice for you, reader, if someone close to you makes the decision not to start a family, respect their choice without questioning it. Not everyone has to!

So. Do you want kids?

Big Girl x

How the Pandemic Impacted My Social Life & Relationships

How the Pandemic Impacted My Social Life & Relationships

We’ve all been impacted one way or another by the pandemic this year… When it all started, I thought the world would be in crisis for maybe 6 months and then quickly recover from it. When I came back to London in April, I was convinced my fiancé and I would be able to get married in November this year. I remember saying to my close family: “It will be sorted out by then!”, they were a bit hesitant to agree and I thought they were pessimistic. As we’re now entering cold months and this virus is going to keep threatening us for at least another 6 months (or am I being too optimistic again?), I thought it was a good time to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted all types of relationships.

Family

Family reunion

My mum was born and raised in Japan, she moved permanently in France by herself when she was almost 18. A few years later, she married a French man (my dad) and started a family. I guess it made it difficult for her to go back to her native country. That’s the price you pay when you choose to build your life abroad… You might never go back to your roots. I might have subconsciously walked in her footsteps when I decided to come to England 8 years ago.

Even though England is a lot closer to France than Japan, I don’t see my family very often. It doesn’t compare to people who live a few minutes away from their parents for example. On top of that, the current covid rules mean we can’t travel easily at the moment. The positive impact is we talk more regularly over the phone. Keeping in touch to say nothing has never meant so much.

Friends

friends jumping in the air

I have friends all over the world. People usually choose to be friends with like-minded people, so I guess it makes sense that I keep in touch with people who have lived in different places throughout their lives. But one of the consequences is I don’t see them very regularly. Distance has never been an obstacle to our friendship though. A negative impact of this pandemic is to not being able to plan when we’ll see each other again. We can’t make any travelling plans until the situation gets a bit less murky. Basically, my wedding is supposed to be the next time we’ll see each other, in November 2021. But even that is not guaranteed…

Colleagues

colleagues around table

I quit my job before travelling last year and I haven’t found a new job since I got back. Maybe the absence of colleagues is the direct consequence of this pandemic for me! The job market is not exactly what it used to be. If anything, this situation made me question what type of job I should look for.

This blog is my full time job for now, it feels like I’m working from home. I like the tranquillity of my own office room at home, the liberty of listening to music if I want to, the easy access to my own kitchen to cook something healthy for lunch, the presence of my cats and of course the shortest commute I will ever have, from my bedroom to my desk. I don’t know when this situation will change but I learnt to enjoy it while it lasts.

Love

couple at sunset

When we were abroad for so long, friends & family were wondering if our relationship would either make or break. Some couples may split up after spending some time abroad, because travelling changes people’s mindset forever. But we knew we were made for each other before planning such a trip.

We had been on the road for 5 months before coming back. Having no choice but to stick with each other during a national lockdown was never going to be difficult in comparison. We also used to work together before, so we were already used to spending most of our time together. If anything, it confirmed to us we can’t wait to get married.

Pets

cat and dog cuddling

I personally can’t see my life without pets. It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by lots of people already, pets are not just for lonely people. They love you in a different way than humans, they don’t judge, they empathise with your emotions, they don’t have to do much to comfort you when you’re sad… And they’re so cute. There’s been a rise in pet adoptions since lockdown, let’s just hope people who adopted were fully aware of the responsibilities involved in owning a pet and that the abandonment rate will not also increase later on.

I already had a cat but always wanted a little sister for him. To me, that was the right moment to do it. Many charities warned against pet adoption during the pandemic but I knew what I was doing. I now have 2 cats who not only love each other but make me even happier than I was before! I would have adopted another kitten at some point anyway… But the extra time lately made it easier to properly take care of our new family member.

Nature

nature sunset

I think it’s fair to say my relationship with nature has also changed. Being able to take some fresh air is underrated. Seeing the positive impact on having less people polluting (thanks to covid19) made me realise how overcrowded our planet is. We’re currently damaging it by replacing the wild with the tame. It made me want to be more careful and considerate about my actions and their consequences on a bigger scale.

“Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.” – Bruce Feiler

How did the pandemic impact your relationship with the world?

Big Girl x