This is always a favorite time of year! We get to see family, friends and loved ones. It should be one of the happiest times of the year, but for some people, it’s actually dreaded and a great source of stress when it comes to eating. It doesn’t have to be this way, and in fact shouldn’t be at all!
Here’s the thing I want everyone to understand– YOU CAN ENJOY THE HOLIDAY FOODS AND GATHERINGS WITHOUT GETTING FAT OR FEELING GUILTY.
A few “bad” or “cheat” meals will not drastically increase the number on the scale. Just like a few days of perfect nutrition or dieting will not drastically decrease the number on the scale. Where we run into issues though… is if those few bad meals turn into a few bad days. Then those days run into a week. If we stop working out… if we lose momentum… if we start 2019 off on a bad note, then that is where the issues come in.
I say “If” because it is ultimately up to you what happens over the next month of holidays and social gatherings. No one is going to make you eat or drink. No one is going to make you skip the gym or a workout of some sort. YOU, as always, are in control!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not ignorant to the fact that it can be difficult! That is why I am giving you my 5 best tips to help you enjoy the holidays while staying on track to your health and fitness goals!
1. Protein is King
Protein is important during the holidays because it will help keep you full, curbing cravings, and keep you in an anabolic state. When you eat a serving of protein about the size of your palm, it puts your body in an anabolic state. This has some great benefits for fat loss.
You will burn more calories and fat by being in an anabolic state longer throughout your day. This is ideal since we are going to be eating more food and different food than our typical nutrition plan. That is why you want to eat 4-6 protein-based snacks/meals a day, based around a palm-sized portion of a protein. Plus, by having protein at your meals and during the day, you will stay full longer. Which will eliminate mindless snacking and keep you from continually going back for more Christmas cookies!
2. Don’t Stuff Your Face
Remember, these dinners and gatherings are about the people you are with … not the food you eat! Don’t obsess over your food. Piling your plate as high as you can might get a few laughs as you pass through the kitchen … but 15 minutes later you are going to be stuffed and most likely miserable.
Have your favorite foods, no matter what they are, in an appropriate portion. Not 2-3 plates worth. As discussed in point number one, protein is king so let’s start there. Find a good protein source (Turkey, fish, Ham, Beef, etc) and put a palm-sized portion on your plate. Next, track down your favorite side and put a clenched fist size portion on your plate. The rest of the room on the plate can be filled with green beans, salad, or any vegetables being served.
3. Stay On Track When You Can
What you do in-between the holiday meals will have a big impact on how you start 2019. Like I mentioned at the beginning, where most people get into trouble is that they do not consciously focus on making good decisions when not at the party or dinner. Allowing a few meals, snowball into a few days of eating less than ideal foods.
Make sure that you are still getting your protein based meals and snacks in throughout the day! This is where having Level-1 for a quick shake in between holiday meals can help you out a lot. Or sticking a few Level-1 Bars in your travel bag for even more convenience is another great option. No matter what though, remember that all of your other choices during the day matter so make the best ones you can.
4. Stay Hydrated!
Being dehydrated not only leads to poor function of your body but it also leads to cravings and hunger. When you are thirsty, you are dehydrated and your body is signaling that it needs water. Unfortunately, that signal can be misinterpreted. Causing you to feel and believe that you need to eat when really all you need to do is drink water.
Many people will suggest that you should drink 2 cups of water before your meals to help you not overeat plus stay hydrated. I am not as concerned with whether you do that or not. I know one of the last things I will be concerned with at Christmas dinner is making sure to chug a few glasses of water before sitting down to eat. The main thing to concern yourself with is drinking 120oz of water during the day. If you are hydrated you will naturally feel full between meals, have fewer cravings, and therefore be less likely to indulge in mindless snacking.
5. Move Your Body
Driving in the car or flying on a plane does not count as moving your body. We all know the holidays can get hectic. Our schedules and routines will be interrupted. You may not get to have your “ideal” workout. That is ok. You can ALWAYS still do something to move your body, get a good sweat going, and take steps towards your goals.
By knowing this and understanding it will alleviate a lot of stress. No matter where you are, you can get a workout in. Don’t overlook the powerful benefits of a quick HIIT training session … body weight movements until failure … or simply going for a walk/jog with your family for a cardio workout. If you look back on the holidays and are disappointed that you “didn’t get to” workout … know that it is because YOU did not make it happen.
These 5 tips may be super simple, but they are very effective to help you enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty while staying on track to your health and fitness goals! This way you can make sure that you are starting January and 2019 off right! Recharged and ready to go!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer