It is the time of the year of large meals, drinks, desserts, and all kinds of fun when it comes to food. It’s also a time of year where you are traveling more, sitting more, stressing more, and moving less. These two forces combine in order to completely derail you and lead to the New Year’s resolution to get back in shape and lose weight.
So how can you navigate the next month and a half without coming out the other side in any worse shape than you are now?
If you are expecting me to tell you to lock yourself in your house for the next month and half or to go on some super restrictive diet or to skip all your traditional holiday meals, I am sorry but you will be disappointed.
I WANT YOU TO ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS!
And that includes the food, drink, and people you love!
In my mind, to successfully navigate the holidays there are 7 things you can do. If you do these 7 things, I promise you that you can still enjoy yourself, but also not go off the rails and beat yourself up come January.
From the end of November to the first few weeks of January it seems like there is at least one social gathering per week. With so many opportunities to get together there are going to be endless amounts of cakes, cookies, alcoholic drinks, snacks, and side dishes covered in crazy things like marshmallows.
In order to navigate these social gatherings and the food and drink that will be there you need to pick the ones where you are going to indulge and the ones you are going to pass on. Remember there are really just a handful of special days. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, there are 3 days where you may choose to indulge. If you have 12 parties you will be going to over the course of the holiday season that means the other 9 you won’t indulge…you will eat as you normally would in any other situation (which is hopefully based around whole foods).
How do you decide which parties you will indulge in and which ones you won’t?
I always ask clients…”Which ones mean the most to you?”
The ones where you are with the ones you love…those are the ones to pick….the ones where you are with a bunch of acquaintances….pass, there is likely less meaning in those.
One thing that works to your advantage during the holiday season is the main meals are based around an elaborate piece of protein. When putting together your dish LOAD UP ON THAT AND EAT IT FIRST!!! Protein is going to fill you up quicker than anything else you put on your plate, so go hog wild on it. After you have the protein on your plate, next pile on as many vegetables as possible. If you want to have that dish covered in marshmallows after that…go for it, but I bet you will eat less of it!
Normally my advice on movement is to try and get 7-10K steps a day, so why am I saying hit 10K steps now during this time of the year?
You are going to overeat, that’s OK, don’t sweat it.
However, more food means more movement!
Some people may subconsciously move more because they are eating more, however during this time of the year it’s also common to sit on the couch and watch our favorite movies and sports. By all means enjoy some relaxation, but now is not the time to sacrifice movement.
Try and organize a walk before/after a big meal. Take the kids and go play a game outside. Organize a family workout at some point in the day. Help clean, do the dishes, set the table, do things that help your hosts but also keep you moving your body!
The day after I choose to indulge, I have the most epic workouts. Calories are energy, if we move our bodies we can leverage that energy. If we don’t, our bodies will store that energy for another time. Hit the gym the next day, and I bet you will notice your strength will be better and you may even crush some PRs!
Sometimes we go to a social gathering and there really are no good food options. The solution is to offer to bring something, and don’t take no for an answer. I find if you bring an epic big ass salad it almost always goes over well. Pair that with the centerpiece of the meal, the protein, and you have everything you need!
One of the biggest problems with the holiday’s is all the leftovers. The marshmallow covered side dishes linger for days and weeks. The cookies and cakes hang around. And guess what? We will eat them for the next 2 months! Once the celebration is over, toss out the leftovers you know you shouldn’t be eating or give them away to guests, or take them to someone in need. Whatever you do, if you can’t self regulate yourself around them, GET THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE!
It’s easy to have the attitude of “SCREW IT WHY EVEN BOTHER!” during the holidays. Again if you are following #1 from above, there are only going to be 3 days that are really any different than what you were doing before the end of November. Yes you might be traveling a bit more, you might not be at home as much, you might not be eating perfectly, that doesn’t mean you give up on sleep, stop doing your workouts, and drop your stress management practices. You have 3 days to indulge, other than that, every other day should look pretty much like a “normal” day for you.
That’s it! Do these 7 things and I am sure you will be able to at the very least maintain your health over the holidays.
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