17 Christmas 2017 Gift Ideas for Kilt Wearers

tartan-gift

Kilt people can be a difficult lot to buy Christmas gifts for. You know they love their kilts but you don’t always know what the little trinkets and hanging things are on their kilts and you don’t know whether they even need new ones. Maybe you’re aware that the person you need to buy a gift for has Scottish ancestry but you don’t know how they would like to show that off in their every day life. Is there a way to purchase something Scottish much cheaper than, say, buying them their own Highland castle? Yes, of course there is and Life In A Kilt in cooperation with the Life In A Kilt Podcast is here to help end your search for the perfect gift with our list of 17 Christmas 2017 Gift Ideas for Kilt Wearers. You can read the list here then listen to us chat about the list on the podcast! No matter if your Christmas gift buying budget is high or low, there is something on this list for everyone so make a choice and you’ll be ready to start wrapping in no time. We recommend the plaid wrapping paper with tartan ribbon. Yeah, we’re kilty like that.

 

1. Sword of Robert The Bruce

Fortunately, today’s kilt wearers don’t have to weapon up for battle on a daily basis. The sharpest thing I carry with my kilt is a sgain dubh and that’s only occasionally. Nonetheless, most of us still imagine, at some point or another, strapping a broadsword to our backs in case we meet an aggressive rogue clan in the hallways at work. In reality, we may only get to swing the Claymore in the privacy of our own castle but it’s great to have one handy, even if it is hanging from the wall. The Sword of Robert The Bruce by Windlass is both an imposing conversation piece and intimidating blade of high carbon steel “as powerful as the man who would have wielded it.” The beautiful pommel emblazons the Cross of St. Andrew, while the hearty grip is wrapped in soft, black leather and held in place by a corded silver chain. This massive sword comes complete with a matching, thick black leather scabbard and sports a silver Lion of Scotland at its throat and a rounded silver metal shoe at its tip. This is a gift you’ll treasure for years but be careful kids. You’ll put your aye out.

From Museum Replicas Limited
$325

2. Saltire Multifunctional Scarf

Transformers are always awesome, even as a scarf. Who couldn’t make use of a scarf that turns into a cap, sun protector, dust mask, sweat band, hair tie, and protect your identity while preparing to kick English arse on the front line at Stirling Bridge. If only it would also turn into a sleeping blanket it would be like a kilt for your face. Personally, I use these as quick, emergency respirators when I’m spraying or airbrushing non-toxic paint. None of mine have the Saltire on them unfortunately, so, dang it, I’m going to have to gift one or two of these to myself as soon as I finish writing this article. Unless somebody out there wants to give me one for Christmas. I wonder how I can get my wife to read this article.

From Ruffnek
£12.75

3. Whisky Tasting Collection

Not every kilt wearer drinks whisky. A bottle of Scotch will last a year or more with me but I have friends who can go through a bottle a week. These are the people who always make me feel inadequate  when ordering at a pub. I mean, I only found out a couple years ago what ordering Scotch “neat” means. My friends, however, can have entire conversations about the effects “peat” or aging in specific barrel types or water temperature can have on good Scotch whisky. And, frankly, I don’t want to listen to them. That’s why I give them something they can put in their mouth to shut them up. Like some really good whisky! The smart people at Tasting Collection have put together two unique sets of 12 very special whiskies in a beautiful wooden gift box. Your whisky expert friends will have a blast sampling each 25ml tube of their favorite firewater while you’re still getting used to spelling whisky without an “e.” If your friends aren’t on an expert drinking level, this gift will help them discover their favorite whisky and learn to distinguish the differences while they do become an expert. Then you’ll have even more friends making you feel inadequate at the pub. Maybe you’d better order one for yourself while you’re at it.

From Tasting Collection
£148.50

4. Contemporary Sporran

When wearing a kilt for the first time, one of the most difficult things to get used to is not having pockets to carry your billfold, keys, cell phone and spare change. You quickly learn the value of a well-made, roomy sporran. While many first purchase a standard, off-the-rack, run-of-the-mill, low-cost sporran, why not help dress up your kilt person’s investment with a hand made artisan sporran? Jennifer Cantwell of Scotland’s Sporran Nation makes limited edition, bespoke and commissioned sporrans, bags and accessories that no one else you know will have and that you’re kiltie is going to love. All sporrans from Sporran Nation feature contemporary designs using high quality materials, including a vegan line for those who abstain from leather products. New works have a particular focus on leather tattooing. Woah, how cool is that? Give your kilt friend a personalized gift that they won’t ever want to do without and they will thank you and think of you every time they reach for their wallet.

From Sporran Nation
£235.00 for “Cross Sporran” (shown above). Other design prices vary.

5. Tartan Necktie

Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to wear our kilts in every social situation. Work dress codes may say “No” to our kilts but that’s no reason we can’t still sport our family tartan. The visionaries at Sport Kilt have designed neck ties in all of the kilt tartans they offer so whether your kilt lover is a Wallace working in an accounting firm or a police detective with Scottish ancestry, your giftee can still show everyone his or her clan colors as they do their work. Best thing is, no one will stop and ask what they are wearing under their tie.

From Sport Kilt
$29.50

6. Nine Button Knee High Leather Boots

Any kilt wearer who has visited a Renaissance Festival or Highland Games has spent several minutes drooling in front of the boot vendor booth. We all want a fantastic pair of boots under our kilts that make us look like Rob Roy or Kromtor the super kilted warrior-demon. With kilts becoming more popular, a pair of knee-high button boots can now be purchased online at a discount. But, hold on, we’ve all bought discount shoes before, haven’t we? It only takes a few all-day visits to the Ren Fair before buttons fall off, the cheap leather (or vinyl) scars and tears or the sole comes unglued leaving you soleless and soulless. That tragedy can easily be averted by purchasing a pair of well-made leather boots which will actually get stronger and more comfortable with each wearing. The family of craftspeople at Sons of Sandlar have been hand-crafting leather boots and footwear for over six generations so they know what they heck they are doing. All you have to do is secretly acquire your kilt friend’s boot size, then sit back and hear their shouts of joy after they tear open their Christmas present. Be forewarned, they’re going to want to go for a really long walk.

From Sons of Sandlar
$520

7. Deluxe Irish Sword and Shield Kilt Pin

For years I’ve been whining that kilt pins are made wrong. The flimsy pin clasps come unclasped far too often, resulting in the loss of a fine pin. This year I was discussing the flaw on the Life In A Kilt Podcast when I was contacted by someone at Stillwater Kilts informing me that they make their own kilt pins and they, coincidentally, make them exactly the way I have been saying for years that kilt pins should be made: with secure, locking “tie tack” pins. I decided to order one of their pins and put it to the test, expecting typical failure and disappointment. What I received in the mail was the best kilt pin I’ve ever owned! The locking clasps will never slip off accidentally and the two “tie tack-style” pins prevent thread-pull damage to my kilts that I always seem to get from the old style of kilt pins. I immediately ordered several more of these pins and I can assure you that your kilt person will love these as well. Even though the kilt pins come in a variety of jewel colors and metal tones, I’m looking forward to a wider variety of designs from Stillwater Kilts in the future. In the meantime, these are the only kilt pins I’ll ever wear.

From Stillwater Kilts
$10

8. Scotty Wallace Clan Tartan T-Shirt

A quick disclaimer: I’m a whore. That’s right, I’m using my own kilt Christmas gift list to hawk one of Life In A Kilt‘s own products. But, hey, I’d still mention Scotty Wallace even if he wasn’t one of ours. He’s cute. He’s sassy. He’s a kilt wearer. And this year we released a Scotty Wallace t-shirt design in dozens of different clan tartans. So whether you’re buying for an Anderson or an Urquhart, you can guarantee Scotty will match their kilt design while at the same time delivering a snarky wise-ass comment. It’s what Scotty does best. What else could a smart and stylish kilt wearer possibly want?

From Life In A Kilt Shop
$19.19 and up.

9. Pipe Band Style Kilt Hose

No one wants to get socks for Christmas. Except kilt wearers! We love them! It seems we never have enough kilt hose around the house and, even when we do, they always seem to be the wrong color. If it was only possible to have a pair in several different colors stashed away, our kilt accessory arsenal would be complete. Well, now it is not only possible but affordable with these piper-style kilt hose from J. Higgins. The mostly acrylic hose are available in extra small to extra large and feature a handsome double fold cuff for a thicker calf look. If you don’t know what that means, take my word for it. It’s what all of us kilt guys look for in kilt hose. It looks great and makes a secure band for our favorite sgian dubh. With such a low price, consider buying three or four pair in various colors to make your kilt person three or four times happier.

From J. Higgins
$22

10. Red Hot Chilli Pipers Music

Everyone thinks all kilt wearers play bagpipes. We don’t. In fact, we don’t all even like bagpipes. But it’s a documented fact that all kilt wearers like good music and we all like bagpipes if they are part of good music. It’s true. If you don’t believe me, stuff your kilt dude’s (or dudette’s) stocking with a CD from kilted bagpipe players of good music, Red Hot Chilli Pipers! No doubt you’ve heard of these guys or seen their unforgettable performances on television. They do bagpipes like no one else. They call their music “Bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show so hot it carries its own health warning.” In fact, if you develop medical issues while listening to them, I prescribe CPR. That’s “Chilli Piper Resuscitation.”

From Red Hot Chilli Pipers
$10

11. Salty Dog Cruise With Flogging Molly

ATTENTION: Sailing the sea, kilted, with one of the greatest Irish/American rock bands ever to exist might possibly be the best Christmas gift in the history of Christmas gifts! Seriously! And if you’re willing to give a Christmas gift with a few months delay in the payoff, Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise is your opportunity to give your kiltie the best Christmas gift they will ever receive in their life! 20 bands, including Flogging Molly, will gather for a 3 day cruise in April aboard the luxurious Norwegian Sky. Your cruise cost includes food, beverages, a free open bar, all concerts and ship amenities. The cruise will depart from Miami and stop in key West and Great Stirrup Cay and will be leaving your kilted butt behind if you don’t hurry up and make reservations. Don’t forget sunscreen and your sunglasses to protect your eyes from going skinblind from all the glowing white Celt skin frolicking in the sun.

From Flogging Molly Cruise
$799 per person. Prices may change. Call 215-663-8800 for availability and restrictions.

12. Tartan County Cap

Help keep your kilt wearer’s noggin toasty and protected with a stylish tartan cap from the world-famous Scottish Tartan Museum. The “country cap” style of hat is very popular today, especially with kilt wearers but they’re also the perfect way to show off your clan tartan on non-kilt days. In fact, a cap like this might be the perfect starter garment for the curious non-kilt wearer. Once they get a taste of tartan-wearing on their heed, they’re bound to want to wrap the fèileadh around their lower regions. These are perfect gifts for kilt aficionados of all ages, sexes and nationalities. Sorry, not recommended for the headless.

From Scottish Tartans Museum
$49.95

13. Tushy Classic

Let’s be honest, there are battalions of men out there wearing their kilts “regimental.” As the saying goes, “It’s a kilt. If I wore something under it then it would be a skirt.” Whether it’s proper kilt wearing etiquette or not, the reality is, few of us would be very comfortable taking a seat exactly where a “proper” kilted gentleman was just sitting. Am I right? Regarding cleanliness and hygiene, none of us want to take a chance that the previous occupant of our pub seat is unfortunately terrible with TP technique. So, to ensure your own kilted buddy is guaranteed “squeaky clean,” why not give him or her a classic bidet attachment by Tushy? But don’t just take my word for it, the Tushy website says it best: “The TUSHY White and Silver Classic fits your bathroom with a sleek timeless look for the classiest poops you’ve ever had. Our classic bidet attachment washes your bum with a refreshing stream of clean water after you poop.” Yep. That’s what it does all right. And confession time. I bought one of these and it may be one of my most favorite purchases ever. In fact, I love it so much I just bought another one for my second bathroom. It’s that good. It’s easy to hook up and easy to use and… all right, yes, damnit, it’s FUN to use as well! AND it has a price that won’t wipe you out. Yes, I said it. Sorry.

From Tushy
$69

14. Women’s Poly Viscose Mini Kilt

Men seem to get all of the best kilt gifts but at Life In A Kilt we’re always looking out for the ladies too. Often it can be difficult to find the perfect kilt for your favorite women friends and family. Men’s kilts may be too long or too bulky for them and some women’s kilts are so short they could double as a beer can koozy. USA Kilts offers a modern, fashionable tartan kilt for women that still keeps some aspects of a traditional kilt. It’s made with machine washable 11 – 12oz weight poly viscose and available in a multiple selection of tartans. Whether your woman friend would like to celebrate her own Scottish heritage or simply show her support by matching your family tartan, receiving her own kilt would be a perfect Christmas gift.

From USA Kilts
$95

15. Custom Sgian Dubh

Face it, most sgian dubh are crap. I have a half dozen of them right now that couldn’t stab pudding. If I was ever attacked by someone with the intent of doing me major bodily harm, the best I could possibly manage with one of my sgian dubh is open a letter from the local sheriff telling the offender to back off. Assuming the letter was wet. How the Scottish “black knife” devolved from a deadly weapon to an object that could be defeated by a fourth grader with a butter knife is a mystery but it doesn’t have to be that way. In ancient times, sgian dubh were custom forged by skilled blacksmiths or weapon specialists. One edge was lethally sharpened while the handle was hand-carved from wood, bone or stag horns. Rab Gordon of Rannea Studio still makes sgian dubh this way, each one a work of art in itself. Rab’s Sgian Dubhs have their own unique character and identity with their own individual serial number. Many are commissioned as heirlooms to be passed on to the next generation. It’s an heirloom that also instills pride, security, protection and style making one of Rannea Studio’s sgain dubh an exceptional holiday gift.

From Rainnea Studio
Contact for pricing.

16. Haggis

I’m vegetarian but this year at a Burns Supper I decided to try a little bit of haggis. It was the first meat I’d eaten in almost 25 years but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity when it presented itself to me. I’ve always been curious about what it tastes like. And honestly? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I certainly didn’t think it deserves the bad reputation it gets from the non haggis eaters. I don’t have plans to eat more of it soon but I think if I did ever found myself eating meat again, I would have no problem piling haggis on to my plate. It’s especially tasty with “tatties” (“potatoes” for you non haggis eaters). If your own Scottish meat eater has never tried haggis, why not give a gift of haggis from McKean’s, haggis makers since 1850. Their carefully blended recipe uses only the finest Scottish oats, accompanied with their secret mix of herbs and spices. It’s a tasty gift your friends are guaranteed not to receive from anyone else and it may, just possibly, bump the Christmas turkey or ham right off this year’s holiday table.

From McKean’s
From £24.00

17. Scottish Beer Gift Set

Every year I run across more than one person on my gift list so difficult to buy presents for, I wish I could just buy them beer and call it done. Well, thanks to Spirited Gifts’ Scottish Beer 12 pack Gift Set I can now do that very thing while still looking classy and honoring my giftee’s cultural ancestry. According to Spirited Gifts, the Celtic tradition of beer has been produced in Scotland for approximately 5,000 years. The Scots like their beer strong and heavy and these beers were aptly nicknamed “Wee Heavies.” Scottish ales are generally dark, malty, full-bodied brews and many have a hint of smokiness derived from the use of peated malt. The Scottish Beer Gift Set includes a sampler of the best that Scotland has to offer so send your favorite Scot on a taste trip to the motherland even while they sit on their couch in their underwear.

From Spirited Gifts
From $120

The Kilted Chef’s Salted Caramel Apple Poutine

DSC_0229b

(Serves 4)

2 NS Sweet Tango apples cut in sticks
1 tbsp butter
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 oz Fortress or Iron Works Rum
2 oz quark or mascarpone cheese
8 oz salted caramel

In a med size pan melt the butter add the apples sticks sauté for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Iron Works rum, let reduce for 1 or 2 minutes.
Place the apples in a dish straight up like French fries add the quark and top with the salted caramel, enjoy.

Sea Salt Caramel Apple

This will make 2 cups. Save the rest for Ice cream topping.

1 cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 pinch coarse sea salt

Melt the butter over med high heat, stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup, add in the condensed milk, bring to a boil and allow cooking for 5-7 minutes until thick and golden brown, stir continuously.

The Kilted Chef’s Lobster Fresh Roll served with a Maple Ginger Sauce

DSC_0453b

(Serves 12)

1.5 lbs Lobster mea
½ bag of rice or monk bean vermicelli noodles
12 round rice paper 6 or 7 inch’s
½ Blueberry Pickled Onions
24 leafs of sweet basil fresh
12 dash Sriracha sauce
12 Green onion tails

Rehydrate each rice paper one at a time and ensemble each roll with small pinch of noodles, 1 tsp blueberry pickled onions, 2 oz of cold lobster, 2 leafs sweet basil and a dash of Siracha sauce then wrap with green onion tail sticking out.

Maple Ginger dipping sauce

2 tsp sesame oil
1 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1 tbsp sesame seeds black and white mixed or just white
1 tsp hot chili sauce Asian style
1 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp cup fish sauce

In a sauce pan place sesame seeds and grill till they start to pop mix fast to avoid burning, then add sesame oil, garlic and ginger once lightly brown add the rest of ingredients and bring to a boil then let simmer on low heat for 8 minutes or so and let cool.

The Kilted Chef’s Seafood Chowder with Double Smoked Bacon, Corn, Basil, and Brie

DSC_0484b

(Serves 6 to 8)

2 tbsp. butter
2 lb. yellow flesh potatoes skin on, diced
2 Shallots diced
½ cup celery diced
½ cup diced double smoked bacon
3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
6 ears of corn (niblets only)
2 bays leafs
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
5 lb. mussel meat
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups mussel broth
4 cup water
2 cup 35% cream
1 small wheel of double cream brie sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook half of the potatoes and half of the shallots in 4 cups of water until tender, puree and set aside.
In a large pot sauté the bacon, remaining shallots, corn and the celery in the butter until transparent, then deglaze with the white wine and Dijon mustard. When the wine has reduced add the rest of the potatoes, the herbs and the mussel broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender.
When potatoes are cooked, add the mussel meat, brie and the pureed potato then cook for a further five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the cream allow to heat through. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

The Kilted Chef Keeps It Fresh

The Kilted Chef

Chef Alain Bosse is known internationally as “The Kilted Chef” but it wasn’t the kilt or the “chef’s whites” that was his first cooking uniform. ”When I was younger I joined the Boy Scouts,” Alain explains. “I wasn’t as athletic as the other kids so I would often stay behind and help the leaders prepare the food. Soon it was my role to teach the skills to younger scouts and that’s when I fell in love with cooking. I think it was a combination of three things, my love of food, my love of teaching people new things, and perhaps I have a bit of love for the spotlight!”

The Kilted ChefThere has been a great deal of the spotlight during Alain Bosse’s 33-plus year career. He has appeared numerous times on television and has been the subject of several radio and editorial features. He is past president of Taste of Nova Scotia, a best-selling author, teacher, consultant, food editor for Saltscapes Magazine, and a full time contributor to the Advocate Groups syndication of newspapers. He has worked alongside top chefs from around the world such as Jamie Oliver, Chuck Hughes, Anna Olson, Michael Smith, Frank Widmar, and Michael Reith.

As a regular guest instructor at Louisiana’s John Folse Culinary Institute, Cordon Bleu School, Henry Ford College, and The University of Culinary Art in Boston, Alain focuses on instructing students in the use of sustainable sea foods and preaching a passionate gospel of “buy local, eat local.” “Here in Nova Scotia We are blessed with amazing aqua and agri-cultural products and the source is always the best place to get them,” says Alain. “I have developed important relationships with growers and fishermen in my area and make farms and wharves a regular stop in my pursuit for the best ingredients with which to cook. Atlantic Canadian cuisine is simple, it’s honest and pure, we farm, fish, and harvest with integrity. We were ecologically friendly before being ecologically friendly was cool. The reason our lobster is so good is because it comes from water that is still cold and clean, our beef grows in a field not in a feed lot.”

The Kilted ChefSo, how did Alain Bosse go from “regular chef” to “Kilted Chef”? “About 12 years ago my daughter was in a Scottish pipe and drum band,” Alain says. “They were holding an auction at the resort where I was working and asked if I would be auctioneer for the event. As a bit of a joke, I think, they asked if I would wear a kilt. After that, the name “Kilted Chef” kind of stuck and, when I formed my own company, I decided to run with it. I’m of French decent and not a Scotsman, so I don’t have a tartan to call my own. I proudly wear the Nova Scotia tartan and I wear a red and white kilt with maple leaves that was custom made for representing Canada.”

Alain says he wears the kilt for many reasons, including comfort. “I wear a kilt any time I represent the culinary field whether it’s promoting our province to the world, catering, giving cooking lessons or at speaking engagements. When you call yourself the “Kilted Chef” people expect you to be wearing a kilt!”

Still, he admits kilt-wearing is not without its risks. “I once fell on stage, while wearing my kilt, answering the burning question, once and for all, of what a person wears underneath.”

DSC_0484bThe Kilted Chef Seafood Chowder with Double Smoked Bacon, Corn, Basil, and Brie

Serves 6 to 8
2 tbsp. butter
2 lb. yellow flesh potatoes skin on, diced
2 Shallots diced
½ cup celery diced
½ cup diced double smoked bacon
3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
6 ears of corn (niblets only)
2 bays leafs
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
5 lb. mussel meat
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups mussel broth
4 cup water
2 cup 35% cream
1 small wheel of double cream brie sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook half of the potatoes and half of the shallots in 4 cups of water until tender, puree and set aside.
In a large pot sauté the bacon, remaining shallots, corn and the celery in the butter until transparent, then deglaze with the white wine and Dijon mustard. When the wine has reduced add the rest of the potatoes, the herbs and the mussel broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender.
When potatoes are cooked, add the mussel meat, brie and the pureed potato then cook for a further five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the cream allow to heat through. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

DSC_0453bLobster Fresh Roll served with a Maple Ginger Sauce

(Serves 12)

1.5 lbs Lobster mea
½ bag of rice or monk bean vermicelli noodles
12 round rice paper 6 or 7 inch’s
½ Blueberry Pickled Onions
24 leafs of sweet basil fresh
12 dash Sriracha sauce
12 Green onion tails

Rehydrate each rice paper one at a time and ensemble each roll with small pinch of noodles, 1 tsp blueberry pickled onions, 2 oz of cold lobster, 2 leafs sweet basil and a dash of Siracha sauce then wrap with green onion tail sticking out.

Maple Ginger dipping sauce

2 tsp sesame oil
1 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1 tbsp sesame seeds black and white mixed or just white
1 tsp hot chili sauce Asian style
1 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp cup fish sauce

In a sauce pan place sesame seeds and grill till they start to pop mix fast to avoid burning, then add sesame oil, garlic and ginger once lightly brown add the rest of ingredients and bring to a boil then let simmer on low heat for 8 minutes or so and let cool.

DSC_0229bSalted Caramel Apple Poutine

(Serves 4)

2 NS Sweet Tango apples cut in sticks
1 tbsp butter
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 oz Fortress or Iron Works Rum
2 oz quark or mascarpone cheese
8 oz salted caramel

In a med size pan melt the butter add the apples sticks sauté for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Iron Works rum, let reduce for 1 or 2 minutes.
Place the apples in a dish straight up like French fries add the quark and top with the salted caramel, enjoy.

Sea Salt Caramel Apple

This will make 2 cups. Save the rest for Ice cream topping.

1 cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 pinch coarse sea salt

Melt the butter over med high heat, stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup, add in the condensed milk, bring to a boil and allow cooking for 5-7 minutes until thick and golden brown, stir continuously.

To Your Good Health

fat kiltNow that you’ve caber-tossed the Christmas tree to the curb, it’s time to think about the new year and maybe reach some of those health goals you’ve been talking about every year for the last … oh, well, we won’t talk about that. While the assortment of fine Scotch whiskys and wassail made for some Yuletide cheer and you may have kidded yourself that the cock-a-leekie soup and neeps and tatties are essentially good for you, just make sure the next time someone mentions ‘the whole 9 yards’ they aren’t talking about your gut.

So you want to lose a little weight. Exercise more. Eat healthier. Or at least have your outward appearance somewhat line up with your internal self-perception of looking like a dead ringer for Liam Neeson as Rob Roy.

Each year, approximately 40 percent of Americans set New Year’s resolutions and with the No. 1 resolution being to lose weight. Yet, only eight percent of people making resolutions actually achieve their goal and only 64 percent of people are still pursuing their resolution by the beginning of February. With overweight and obesity on the rise in America – and with a corresponding increase in medical claims due to preventable chronic disease – knowing what helps the eight percent achieve their goals might make 2016 the year you look more like William Wallace and less like Fat Bastard.

It’s not you, it’s me

The most critical component to weight-loss success seems, on the surface, incredibly basic: motivation. Or, at least, the type of motivation. In the self-determination theory proposed by Deci and Ryan (1985b), the primary predictor of behavior change – and maintenance of that behavior change – was whether the motivation of the participant was autonomous. In other words, the participant had internalized the values and the self-regulating behavior out of a perceived, overriding personal benefit. So as you start making your weight loss or exercise goals, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are you doing this because this is something you want to do for you? Make sure you’re doing this because YOU want to do it, not because of pressure from a loved one (or even a physician) and you’ll feel guilty if you don’t.
  • Is this something you perceive as positive, as opposed to some sort of internalized negative perception (“I’m too fat,” “I’m unattractive,” etc.)? Studies show that if the individual sees the behavior change as something that will enhance their lives in a positive way, the greater chance they will continue to pursue the goal.

Get SMART

Now that you’ve got your head in the game, time to start writing down those goals. In one of those “no duh” moments (or is it “duh?”), StatisticsBrain also indicates that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to accomplish their goals. Coming up with an explicit goal that you can actually meet requires more planning and thought than just vowing to “lose a little weight this year.”

green beansSPECIFIC: Go ahead and set a target, such as losing X number of pounds, or working out three times a week or even run a 10K by the end of the year. Focus on the behavior or action in a defined way— not just “exercise more.”

MEASURABLE: Set a number, whether it’s number of glasses of water you’ll drink, the servings of fruits and vegetables you’ll enjoy, steps on your FitBit or minutes spent at the gym. Put a number on it. But, look at the next paragraph when you set that target.

ACHIEVABLE: How are you going to achieve it? What steps will you take that can get you closer to your goal? Make sure it’s something that you can actually do AND sustain. Planning on dropping 40 pounds in two months might make for good TV, but it’s not something that can – or should – play out in real life. It’s also not a goal that is likely going to survive through summer and fall.

RELEVANT: Why is this goal important to you? What is the benefit it will bring to your life? Thinking about the changes in terms of an enhancement, rather than a deprivation or reduction in something you enjoy, will substantially increase your likelihood of reaching your goal.

TIME-BOUND: Give yourself a deadline, whether it’s by the summer or even by the end of the year. This will help you plan the sequence of steps that will get you there. And, as you meet each of those steps, consider rewards that celebrate your success, such as a special trip to the movies, a day off or maybe a weekend trip to the Highland festival in your area.

There’s no “I” in TEAM

While setting goals needs to be something that comes out of your desire to make healthy changes in your life, you also can’t do it alone. There’s a big difference between being bullied by a spouse or partner for your weight or physical activity and having a supportive partner that helps you achieve your goals. But, sometimes the people in our lives need a bit of instruction on what that actually means. If you need three hours a week carved out before or after work to attend a class at the gym, or would prefer to see trigger foods eliminated from the cupboards or refrigerator, this is a good time for a talk about how they can help support those changes so you can be successful.

As you think about creating incentives to celebrate your successes along the way, consider coming up with rewards that include your partner, to recognize how he or she has been a positive cheerleader along the way.

Some Quick Health Hacks to get you going

Health Hack No. 1: Sodium Reduction

For those needing to restrict salt or sodium consumption, the goal is typically to keep the sodium levels down to 140 milligrams per serving or 600 milligrams for the entire meal. Here are easy strategies to reduce the salt content in your food:

  • Use low-sodium cooking broths and unsalted butter, whenever possible.
  • Make your own white sauce with unsalted butter and skim milk instead of using canned or powdered soup mix.
  • Increase the use of other herbs, spices or substitutes (such as Mrs. Dash) to increase flavor.
  • Use fresh vegetables whenever possible, but if you are using canned vegetables, drain and rinse them in cold water. You can reduce the sodium content by as much as 30 percent.

Health Hack No. 2: Limiting Fat Intake

Remember that not all fats are harmful, and usually when people are looking to reduce fat in their diets, the goal is to reduce saturated fats, which are typically animal-based fats. Choosing olive oil or vegetable oil instead of lard, butter or coconut oil can make a big difference in health. In addition:

  • Swap out whole milk in favor of skim milk and reduced-fat cheeses.
  • Use an oil spray or low-sodium chicken broth when sautéing vegetables.
  • Cut portion sizes, if possible (e.g. 2/3 cup vs. full cup of shredded cheese).
  • Replace vegetable oil with sugar-free applesauce at a 1:1 ratio when baking. You also can use mashed bananas or avocados instead of butter when baking.
  • Switch regular sour cream for reduced-fat sour cream. Even better, use Greek yogurt, which is lower in fat and higher in protein.

Health Hack No. 3: Gluten-Free Cooking

While going gluten-free has become a popular diet trend, for many, exposure to gluten can be a serious, if not life-threatening, situation.

  • Consider cornbread, potatoes or rice as your starchy side dish.
  • When making macaroni and cheese, check out the gluten-free alternatives such as pasta made with quinoa or rice.
  • Keep an eye out for hidden sources of gluten, such as barley, oats and rye. Words like malt and dextrin are red flags that this may trigger an attack for those with Celiac disease.
  • Gluten doesn’t just lurk in bread or pasta products – be aware that some salad dressings and marinades may include gluten.
  • Flour alternatives, such as chickpea, cauliflower and almond flour, can be used for a variety of desserts and main dishes.

The Two Words No One Likes to Hear: Portion Control

The reality is that not all food can be slimmed down— nor should they, say some nutritionists. There simply may be no effective way to slim down those deep-fried latkes, even if you do use sugar-free applesauce or fat-free sour cream. But, you don’t necessarily have to eat an entire one.

latkesOften the most satisfying bites we consume are the first two or three, and our level of satisfaction diminishes with each subsequent bite. In fact, when we try to eat alternatives to avoid a food craving, we often end up eating more than if we’d just had a few bites of what we really wanted to eat.

For those that don’t struggle with portion control, a few bites of a full fat or high sodium dish might be enough to satisfy the craving without posing serious consequences. For those who are still recovering from a lifetime of being told to eat everything on the plate, making strategic choices about what to put on the plate to begin with is the best option. Consider using smaller plates so that the plate fills more quickly, and not letting the food touch on the plate. While often considered a habit of the picky eater, creating that space between foods means less room to pile on calories.

The Last Word

While many people elect to adopt healthier behaviors in order to look better, or to fit in the 34” kilt gathering dust in the back of the closet, the reality is that a non-active lifestyle and poor eating habits don’t just add girth, they increase health risk factors. And, men are notorious for not perceiving their own health risk by being overweight – with potentially fatal implications due to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers (C. Gregory, et al. 2008). Let 2016 be the year you take positive steps to improve your health and keep those hearts a-fluttering as you stride by in your slimmer kilt.

— Maria Fernandez

Page 1 of 212