The season is dangerously close to that time of year again. The streets and stores are already decorated for the holidays. If you're friends with any Yankee immigrants, you may even sit down to a Christmas training meal, something they call Thanksgiving.
In no time, your workplace will be overflowing with cookies and cakes. You love to hate it or hate to love it, but you have some strong feelings about the holidays.
Every year you promise yourself this year will be different. This year you mean it. You’ve worked hard all year to stay in shape. You’re not gonna blow it over too much pavlova.
You may believe there are two ways to approach the holidays. You can indulge and suffer the consequences of those indulgences sometime around January 1st or you can not partake in any holiday cheer.
Those are some pretty sad prospects for living a happy and balanced life.
We propose instead, that you take the middle ground. With a little preparation, you can anticipate the annual surge in calories, dipping into the holiday party without falling into the eggnog.
It all starts by using November to prepare. When December hits, your plan is to give it all away like your life depends on it. (We’ll explain.) You’ll show to parties like you don’t even care what you eat. All it takes is a handful of simple tactics.
This is what your friends who stay fit do. They plan ahead. When you maintain a healthy physique, people assume your life exists without indulgences. Not true.
Most fitness folks are just as guilty for indulging as everybody else. They just know how to offset it. They’ve made a sport of planning for indulgences.
This is the month fitness folks drop anticipatory weight. They know that next month is gonna be tough, so they plan ahead by dropping as much unwanted body fat as possible. That way, when they put on five kilos, it’s no biggie.
Easier said than done, dropping body fat means suffering discipline in the next couple of weeks. It’s easier to stay on your plan if you can focus on the coming rewards of the holiday season. We’ll come back to that.
Give Until It Hurts
People love to gift food. It’s lovely, but hard on your intake. This starts as early as the first week in December.
Be polite; accept those gifts, but don’t plan to finish them without help. You cannot rely on your family for this one, but your social circle may help.
Get used to pulling out enough treats for you and your family to sample (you have to report back on how good they were), then repackage the rest. Bring them to the breakroom at work.
You don’t have to lie and say you made the treats. Just tell people, my friend _______ gave these to me and there is no way I can finish them. Please help me.
Be smart. Don’t do this if the treats were from someone at work.
Alternatively, you take them to another social event, like a party. You can also drop them off at any business you frequent (like the gym?) that has employees who would love a little holiday cheer in their break room.
Plan for Events
Okay, this is a big one. Starting today, through New Year’s Eve, eat a light intake of calories. Unless you’re at a holiday event, you’re on your most perfect nutrition plan, whatever that means to you.
Most people have a sense of what works in their life, but if you’re lost, here’s some help. Eat a diet rich in veggies, preferably raw veggies. Any time of day, you may eat as many raw veggies as you can stuff in your stomach.
At meal time, include small portions healthy fats like olive oil, fish oil, butter or avocado, but take it easy. A little goes a long way in the fat department. Skip the fatty meats, unless you are skipping other oil sources, but even then keep your portions of meat small.
If you eat out a lot, this is a good time to order some hearty salads with the dressing on the side.
The point of all this is you are gonna enjoy yourself when you go to holiday parties. There will cakes and there will be hors d'oeuvres on skewers. Planning and looking forward to these events is what helps you stay on your non-event nutrition plan.
Think “party coming” with every fork of salad you eat. Heck, say it out loud. When friends ask why you're being so weird, tell them, "I'm training."
Sleep and Hydrate
This is the lowest hanging fruit on this list, yet many act like it’s inconsequential. It is not. It's the most important step you can take.
Sleep and hydration are critical to your health. During the holidays we tend to spin out, lose track of these two, even downplay the importance.
Between braving the malls, to managing the above rules, who has time to sleep or drink water, right? Stop it. Your sleep time is when your body does some of its most important work.
Losing as little as thirty minutes per night can negatively impact your health. Do whatever it takes to keep water by your side, but get yourself to bed as early as you can.
Remember, you’re in training.
You could just throw caution to the wind, letting whatever happens, happen. After all, gaining a few kilos isn’t the end of the world, right?
The challenge is the ramifications of those kilos, where you gain them, how they stack up over the years. If you typically gain a few during the holidays but shed them in the beginning of the new year, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Considering you’ve made it this far in this blog, then we’re guessing that’s not you. Don’t stress. You can do this. Let's get training.
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