’Tis the season for egg nog, deserts, meals of epic proportion, and of course, booze.
All of these things are magnificent. Slap on some quality time with friends and family, and you have most people’s favorite time of the year.
This is also the time of year when we tend to gain the most weight.
Some studies suggest people gain an average of 7 lbs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Others suggest it’s 5 lbs.
This doesn’t even include Halloween and New Year’s Eve.
By the time the holiday season is over, we’ve done some serious damage to our waistline, just in time for spring to roll around a few months later.
I would never suggest you delete things like deserts and alcohol from your holiday festivities.
That would make me a hypocrite since, if I’m being honest, I have been known to have an annual competition with my cousins to see who can eat the most at Christmas dinner.
Complete with before and after weigh-ins to dictate the champion, followed by any amount of alcohol I can pour on top of my newly conceived food baby.
I do have some fool-proof strategies though.
These are strategies that have helped many of my clients not only make it through the holidays with minimal damage. It also allowed them to enjoy all the debauchery and gluttony that accompanies this time of year.
Strategy 1: Pick Your Battles
Let’s be honest. Do you really need to eat en entire plate of sugar cookies for 8 days in a row?
Most of the weight we gain during the holidays can be eliminated if we just pick our battles wisely.
This means picking the days when we should forget our nutrition plan and enjoy the festivities, and tightening up on the other days.
Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years eve, try picking 5 days which you can relax and enjoy the holiday food and drinks. Get back on your usual eating plan on the other days.
5 days in the grand scheme of things will hardly make a dent. So kick back, undo your belt and crack open another beer.
The trick here is to actually schedule your relax and enjoy days. It’s way too easy for these days to bleed into the next day, so make sure to go in with a plan.
Strategy 2: Eliminate Grazing
If you’re going to eat yourself into a coma, at least enjoy it.
Way too many of our holiday calories are consumed mindlessly picking at desert and snack plates.
Laying out this simple ‘no grazing’ rule means you’re totally conscious and aware of the food you’ll be eating.
Instead of consuming 2000 calories without even thinking about it, save them for meal time.
Once meal time rolls around, strap on your bib, change into your sweats and enjoy.
Strategy 3: No Booze Until 6 p.m
Or 4 p.m, or 8 p.m.
The time you choose isn’t important. What matters is you’re cutting your calories-from-booze down to a fraction by not consuming fire water from morning to night.
Creating a No Booze Until a Certain Time rule will allow you to enjoy the lovingly warm embrace of red wine or whiskey. But it will also minimize the weight you gain this holiday season.
Strategy 4: Do Something
You’re going to be super-charged with calories during the next several weeks. You might as well take advantage of that and go set a strength record in the gym, play some hockey or take a long relaxing walk.
You don’t have to maintain your regular gym schedule during the holidays, but by working in some type of physical activity during the day you’ll burn off some of those calories by putting them to use.
Also, if you remember going back to work after last years festivities feeling like a bloated mess, incorporating some daily activity will help you feel better when this is all said and done.
The goal is simple:
Enjoy the heck out of the holiday season, but come out the other side with minimal weight gain, feeling great, and ready to crush your fitness plan in the months ahead.
Taking a super strict approach to your holiday eating is unrealistic for most of us.
And to be honest, doesn’t sound very fun.
But by implementing the above strategies, you can eat, drink and be merry without throwing your hard work in the gym out the window.
Written by Mitch Heaslip
FFL Results Trainer