by Will Grumke November 22, 2021 6 min read
This is always one of my favorite times of year!
Between Thanksgiving, the holiday's, and the social events based around Christmas and the holiday season we get to see family, friends and loved ones!
In my opinion, it should be one of the happiest times of the year! Unfortunately, though, that wasn't always my opinion...
Like many people who are into fitness, this time of year can actually be dreaded and a great source of stress!
It could be stress about what to eat, what to drink, how to work out, or maybe the overall fear of losing results you've worked so hard for!
For me, it was always the fear of eating "bad" food, regaining the weight I lost, and getting fat again.
But ... there's good news. 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, and so on.
If we stop working out … if we lose the momentum … if we justify "giving up" for the year, or taking a break until the start of 2022.
That is a recipe for disaster and where the issues come into play.
I say “If” because what happens over the next month of holidays and social gatherings is ultimately up to you.
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 know it can be difficult! As I said above, I struggled with this for many holiday seasons.
I don't want that to happen to you this year. That is why I am giving you my 5 best tips to help you enjoy Thanksgiving while staying on track toward your health and fitness goals!
Eating adequate amounts of protein is important every day ... and it's especially important during the holidays! Protein will help keep you full, curb cravings, and keep you in an anabolic state. This can be very beneficial for fat loss!
When you add in travel, different schedules, and other factors that disrupt your normal routine it will be even more challenging! In normal, day-to-day routines, one of the most common struggles for people is getting in enough protein.
On top of that, many of the holiday favorite foods (other than the turkey) are not good sources of protein. You will easily be able to get the carbs and fats you need for hitting your macros ... just don't forget about protein! This is true for both men and women, people who want to lose weight, and people who want to gain weight.
Plus, by having protein at your meals and during the day, you will stay full longer ... which will help eliminate mindless snacking and keep you from continually going back for more Christmas cookies!
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 … or make for an interesting IG Story ... but 15 minutes later you are going to be stuffed and most likely miserable.
Instead, a more sensible approach that won't leave you feeling unsatisfied or guilty is to simply have your favorite foods, no matter what they are, in an appropriate portion.
Not 2-3 plates worth.
When you do make your plate, a helpful tip is to start with your protein source. I think for most of us, it will be Turkey ... but if it's not, make sure to get a good serving of protein on your plate first, so you don't forget it.
Now, I am not taking a food scale to Thanksgiving and I don't recommend you do either ... so for a portion of protein, make sure it is at least the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.
Next, add your favorite sides and put a normal-sized portion on your plate. These portions can be something along the lines of half, to a full, clenched fist-sized serving.
The rest of the room on the plate can be filled with green beans, salad, or any vegetables being served.
What you do in-between the holiday meals will have a big impact on how you feel mentally and physically!
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 to snowball into a few days and before long ... way off track.
If you are someone who is used to eating smaller meals spaced out throughout the day, try to maintain that and base them around protein.
You might want to lower your calories or macros from these meals if you know you are going to have a few large, untracked meals ... but I would make sure you keep your protein number as consistent as you can.
No matter what though, remember that all of your other choices during the day matter, so make the best ones you can.
Try your best to stick to your routine when you can, and don't stress when you can't!
Being dehydrated not only leads to poor digestion and function of your body, but it can also lead to cravings and hunger.
When you are thirsty, this can be a signal from your body that you are dehydrated and that it needs water. Unfortunately, that signal can be easily 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 while also staying hydrated.
I am not as concerned with whether you do that or not (I know I'm not thinking about trying to slam water before I eat, while also hanging out with my friends and family).
The main thing to concern yourself with is drinking 100oz or more of water during the day.
This will help with proper digestion, regularity, energy levels, minimizing cravings, feeling full, and will help you avoid mindless snacking!
So drink up!
And to be clear ... driving in the car or flying on a plane does not count as moving your body. haha
We all know the holidays can get hectic. Our schedules and routines will be interrupted. You may not get to have your “ideal” workout every day ... or hardly at all.
This means you have two options, complain about it ... let it frustrate you ... and allow it to negatively impact your holidays and the people around you...
OR, you simply accept the fact that it is going to happen and it's ok.
Choosing to not get upset and remembering that you can ALWAYS do something.
Every day, you can do something to move your body, get a good sweat going, and take steps toward your goals.
The 1st Phorm App has a few different "non-gym" workout programs (didn't want to call them "at home" because you can do these at home, at a hotel, or anywhere your holidays take you) that are available!
No matter where you are, you can get a workout in.
Don’t overlook the powerful benefits of a quick HIIT training session … whether it's on cardio equipment, outside, doing burpees, or some sort of bodyweight movement, you can always knock this out in 10 minutes or less if you have to.
Bodyweight movements — when's the last time you did a few hundred push-ups for a chest workout?
Bet it's been a while ... and it would smoke you. haha I know it was for me, because while seeing my brother in Atlanta one year, I did 200 push-ups and 200 dips in the guest bedroom before everyone got up and yea ... it worked.
Better yet, get the family involved.
You simply go for a pre or post-dinner walk around the block ... get them to sign up for a local 5k ... or try a new fitness class together!
In a nutshell ... it's your fault if you don't work out through the holidays. As I said above, it might not be perfect, but when is anything in life perfect?
These 5 tips may be simple, but they can be very effective when it comes to helping you enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty.
The difficult part will be staying disciplined and consistent, as well as NOT beating yourself up or feeling guilty.
Remember, your results weren't earned in a meal or a day, and they won't be lost or ruined by a meal or a day.
Focus on controlling what you can control. Focus on ENJOYING the time with loved ones.
By doing so, you can make sure that you are closing out 2021 strong and ready to start January and 2022 off right!
Recharged and ready to go!
NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, NASM VCS Virtual Coaching Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer