We all know the cliches:
There’s just too much food around me this time of year.
I need to enjoy myself, I’ll start a weight loss plan come January.
I need to go to these holiday parties and if everyone else is going to indulge so am I.
And the list goes on…
They’re the things we tell ourselves once the weather starts getting colder and the holiday season comes screeching to a halt there, all of a sudden – right in front of our noses.
We try to face it down, the holiday cheer, and all of the pressure that comes with it, but it’s usually a challenge.
Sometimes trying to even bother worrying about sticking with any level of positive habits – let alone starting new ones – seems like, well, a worry.
So we dig ourselves into a little hole, and hunker down for the duration of the holiday season. Then we continue to put off accepting awareness and responsibility for our unhealthy actions – if only for a little while longer.
Only until Christmas passes, or until that final party on New Year’s Eve. Then we’ll really get on the horse.
Yes, then we’ll take a stand and fight the battle towards getting fit.
Rethink your Approach (and Get a Head Start)
The problem with being like everyone else and thinking about things the same way you always have been is that this probably won’t elicit a change.
And if change doesn’t happen, you often end up throwing in the towel on your goals. This is true even if you were closer to actually accomplishing them then you might have thought.
When it comes to how you look at things during the holidays, let’s analyze the big picture. Really, when it comes down to it, November, December and January are just like the other nine months of the year.
Sure there might be more social gatherings, more food, and more booze. And yes there might be pressure (whether real or imagined) to partake in a little more consumption than you normally otherwise would.
But ask yourself two things:
1.Do you really have to eat more and drink more this time of year?
Of course not, it’s a crazy question but that’s the point – the answer is simple.
2.Even if you do feel pressure to eat and drink more or even if you naturally fall into this habit, are there not things you can do to reverse the trend?
Or, what are things you can do to counteract the bad habits that you may continue on with until the holidays are finished, despite your best intentions?
The bottom line is there are quite a few simple things you can do to get a head start on whatever goals you may have for the new year in terms of your health and fitness.
The bonus is that these behaviors can help prevent you from overindulging or – at the very least – undo some of the damage when you do.
And if you start with these habits now, you’ll build momentum and be less likely to feel like you’re getting sucked into a black hole of weight gain this – or any other holiday season.
The extra benefit here?
All of the things that I’m going to recommend you start doing are things that you can do year round to continue to reach and stay on top of your health and fitness goals.
Take a Stand: 5 Things you Can Do to Avoid Putting on Pounds this Season
1.Think Less. The idea here of course, is centered around consuming less food, but the goal to begin with is to look at what a baseline day of calories would be for you.
What would you eat on an average day – one where you weren’t indulging?
Then look at how you might indulge. Is it beer or wine, or is it desert? Maybe it’s just tons of extra bread and carbs?
The trick here is not to feel guilty for eating or drinking more at occasionally.
The aim instead is to see how and when you’re doing it.
That is the information you need. Once you know how much extra food you’re consuming and when then you can:
2.Back off (on carbs, and total calories). The goal here (especially this time of year) is not so much to restrict yourself in general.
This is almost impossible, so instead try to restrict your consumption strategically.
Here’s what I mean: the primary and most important objective is not to not overeat or overindulge, but to not overeat or overindulge consistently over a long period of time.
It’s when you do this that you put on weight and cause your health and metabolism to suffer.
The easiest way to avoid doing this is to…
3.Feast then fast. What this means is that if you go to a party and eat too much food, you have to let the calorie “math” balance out the next day.
In other words if you ate a lot one night, take some time and wait before eating the next day (perhaps doing a slight fast), and eat less calories than you did the night before (NOT the same).
So, not only are you dropping your carbs and total calories compared to the day prior where you overate (which is great in and of itself), but you’re also using intermittent fasting where you try to take longer periods (several hours or more) where you don’t eat at all.
So if you feast at night, try to extend the time you would normally eat breakfast until later (while also eating less total calories).
Alternatively, if you ate a big breakfast or lunch then try to eat that much later in the day, and, again, really focus on eating a much smaller amount.
This brings us to:
4.Not Eating as Much Food at Night (or during the day). This is almost a repeat of the advice recommended in number 3, but it’s meant to be a more general recommendation.
The idea here is to, even on days where you aren’t partying or boozing and taking in extra calories, only allow yourself one bigger meal per day. In other words no matter how many meals you consume, make sure you’re trying for only one that’s on the larger side.
So for instance, if you eat a larger breakfast or lunch, go for a smaller dinner. Or if you eat a big diner, back off on breakfast or lunch.
People will argue whether it’s better to eat big meals in the morning or at night, but that’s not the point here.
The focus is to simply be balancing your consumption in a simple, logical fashion.
5. Treat Alcohol like Carbs and Protein Like Desert. If you happen to indulge in alcohol and heavy amounts of calories over the holidays, two of the most powerful things you can do are to remember first that alcoholic drinks are basically just carbs (empty calories).
Secondly, remember that any time you can opt for a tasty snack that is high in protein you will be avoiding much of the blood sugar havoc that is wrought on your body when eat a more typical desert.
Both of these tactics alone are effective enough, if done right, to minimize much of the damage done to your metabolism and the weight gain with which it follows.
The idea is that when you pay attention to the carbs and calories in alcohol and hence cut back on carbs and calories elsewhere those (or hopefully the next day), you avoid the fat packing effect of the high or even slightly high carb consumption.
At the same time, if you focus on the deserts that contain protein, you’re reducing the total number of simple sugars you consume in the meal and, simultaneously, you improve the glycemic load of the meal.
What this means is that you’re reducing the negative impact the desert has on raising your blood sugar because of the slower digesting rate of the protein found in the meal.