So I had a conversation earlier and thought it might be some good information to pass along in a blog post. These are 4 tips that are somewhat unconventional from what I might normally say, but I think they will be very helpful.
The holidays are coming and you know that means a lot of foods we don’t typically consume are coming at us. I thought I’d write up a little guide to help navigate us through the season without undoing all of our hard effort in the gym.
There’s a saying, “fail to plan and you plan to fail.” So let’s make a plan. First, let’s lay out the facts on the table:
Sugar will soon be available in every form imaginable. Cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, stuffing, gravy, latkes, and carb and fat dense foods are going to be everywhere we look. They’ll be laid out all over the break room table at work and in our own kitchens with people baking for each other and giving edible gifts. We’ll be attending shows, bazaars, and all kinds of themed events. Good times, joy and socializing will be associated with food and sweets for almost two months straight from work holiday parties, family holiday parties, and even decorating the tree with hot chocolate and candy canes in hand.
Now, we can either approach the season telling ourselves we will not eat these things, or we can acknowledge that we're going to and not stress about it. Instead, we can choose to indulge in a smart way that does not derail us completely. Here are my top 4 tips for making it through the season of indulgence without adding pounds of unwanted weight.
1. Write down your plan and prioritize your goals. First off, plan how you’re going to stick to your schedule. You’re going to get busy with shopping, partying, festivities, drinking, cooking, etc. Write down a plan now and adhere to it with no exceptions. Set realistic goals. Plan and write down exactly which days/how many hours per week you will come to the gym and don’t allow anything to distract you from doing so. Other things will pop up. However, you must prioritize this hour per day and completely block it off. Treat it like your job. You don’t make plans between 9-5 on Monday through Friday. You should not make plans during your hour of gym time either. This is your hour to take care of yourself and you must commit to staying in the routine. Don’t be “that guy (or girl)” on January 1. Stay consistent with your schedule.
2. Keep calories balanced. If you know you’re going to be eating big meals and extra treats, eat a little less at other meals. Plan on eating like a regular person does on Thanksgiving, but maybe the couple of days before and after you’re eating smaller portions than usual, focusing on meats, vegetables, quality fats, etc. Have a bunch of cookies on your kitchen table? How about just eating a couple after you just worked out and lifted weights? Modifying your consumption this way will keep overall caloric intake balanced so you don’t gain a bunch of unwanted fat. Unless you’re trying to bulk up, in which case, go you and please save some turkey for the rest of us!
3. Prioritize protein and micronutrients. Normally I would refer to this as priority #1. Make sure to plan and prep some Tupperware with lean meats and vegetables on your day off. Bring these meals from home to work so you are still getting the necessary nutrients. Protein keeps you feeling full, so you won’t keep reaching for the cookies when you don’t have anything planned and ready to eat. Be prepared and have nutrient-dense meals and snacks with you always.
4. Don’t let the marketing get to you. As much fun as it all is, remember your goals and keep in mind that half the junk that will tempt you is all marketing. Your aunt’s famous homemade cookies are totally worthy of the splurge, but red and green Oreos are just the same as Oreos the other 364 days of the year, except with added food coloring. Come on. You don’t need that in your life! Don’t even fall for it. Before you mindlessly consume some of that junk, literally ask yourself, “does this contribute to my health and goals?”
Those are my top 4 tips for making it through the holidays without unwanted fat gain and forgetting what the gym looks like.
Amanda has recently become a Precision Nutrition certified coach (Pn1). If you need help with meal planning for health, body composition and/or performance goals, we will be adding nutrition coaching as a service here at CFB mid January.