Halloween and Thanksgiving have come and gone. How did you do with your eating plan? Are you the type to just engorge all out on the holidays, or do you keep a cognitive journal and accountability for what and how much you eat? Christmas and New Years is now right around the corner and you and I both know those cookies, alcoholic beverages (if you drink), and home made casseroles are going to be wafting through the air left and right. How do you stay on track? Or do you even want to stay on track? I’m going to cover a few tips that I do during the holidays to keep fat gain to a minimum (since this is my goal) and then address some thought processes that many people go through during the holidays.
- How you should eat during the holidays will depend on your goal.
- Do you want to stay lean during the holidays and keep fat gain to a minimum? Well, then you will need to keep yourself accountable during your get-togethers and parties. You may have a mental checklist of how you’re going to eat, such as “I’m going to have 1 plate of dinner, 2 desserts, and 2 drinks for the night.” You may be the person to bring your food scale to the parties to precisely measure out portions (although, if you’re not in competition prep or dieting for something major or important, I think this is a bit extreme – just my opinion). You may be a bit more laid back and give yourself the right to eat whatever and however much you want… but in doing so, try and keep your carbs and fat intake earlier on in the day pretty minimal, to compensate for the big meal and desserts you’ll be having later. On the other side of the coin, if you don’t really care about gaining some body fat during the holidays, you won’t need much of a plan. Maybe you’ll continue on with your weight training program and nutrition plan all the way up until Christmas Eve and then go off and enjoy yourself for 2-3 days. How you’re going to eat during the holidays will reflect your priorities and goals. And again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. If you don’t care about added body fat and just want to “enjoy the holidays”, by all means, do that. If you want to stay lean and keep fat gain to a minimum, you will need a plan and will have to be more diligent in your approach.
- How much you exercise during the holidays will also depend on your goal.
- We’re coming right back to what your goals and priorities are. As of right now, I’m dieting for a photo shoot I have coming up early next year, so I’m still very consistent with training 5 times per week, while also doing cardio 6 times per week. However, I will likely save one of my free meals for Christmas day, so that I don’t really feel like I’m dieting. I’ll also do a cardio session later on in the day, once I’ve eaten all my meals and the night is coming to a close. If I weren’t getting ready for anything, I most likely would have taken Christmas off from training and just enjoyed the day with my family (this is what I usually do if I’m not prepping for anything). If your goal is maintenance and keeping fat gain at bay, try fasting in the morning for a few hours, performing some type of high intensity workout the night before, and keeping your water intake high on the day you’re enjoying a bunch of food.
- Eye-balling is still better than just saying, “Forget it. I’m eating whatever I want!”
- Even if you don’t take it to the extreme and bring a food scale with you, you can still do a pretty good job of maintaining by eye-balling portions and having some discipline. Instead of just saying, “Screw it!” and stuffing your face until your stomach explodes, mentally gauge how much you think 8 ounces of turkey looks like, what 1 cup of stuffing looks like, and how many grams you think 500 calories of chocolate looks like. Will you be 100% accurate? Of course not. But again, this is much better than just eating piece after piece of the chocolate and having 4 cups of mac n’ cheese simply because you didn’t feel like holding yourself accountable for your actions. The more diligent you are with your planning and cognitive guidelines, the better chance you have at keeping the fat off this holiday season.
- Remember the real meaning of Christmas and the holidays.
- The holidays aren’t about food and worrying about your weight. They are about family, showing kindness to people, caring for others, and celebrating the life that God gave us. If you are the type of person who gets super stressed out during the holidays because of all the food that is around, there is an underlying issue that you must address. If you can’t control yourself after you just tried some of the dessert and you end up eating thousands of calories after that, there is an issue that needs to be addressed. If all you are worrying about is, “I hope everything I eat tonight isn’t going to make me fat…” instead of just enjoying the company around you and having fun with the people you love, there is an issue that you need to address.
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum before; I’ve prepped and dieted through the holidays and brought my food scale and Tupperware with me to parties and I’ve also engorged on food and experienced some weight gain and depression after the holidays since I wasn’t dieting for anything and had no plan. Regardless of what your goals are this holiday season, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself and those around you. If that means not calculating any macros and having whatever and however much food you want, then do that. If that means exercising the night before, fasting the next morning, and having a plan of action to keep weight gain to a minimum, then do that. We will all have different priorities and goals and things that we consider “fun” for us, so follow what you want to do and enjoy doing it.