There are many who believe that it is impossible to stay in shape and to eat healthily without turning into a Xmas scrooge over the holiday season. You may be one of them, choosing to sprawl across the couch watching festive movies as your knights in shining armour, chocolate and ice-cream always ready to answer your call rescue you from a hangover and a stressful year. This conditioned response to stress is one of the reasons why this year you are left dreaming of a slight Christmas but the good news is that you can enjoy your Christmas whilst still training and remaining healthy.
As someone passionate about health, I have a lot of discipline but at times I have to use an extra bit of will-power to resist devouring certain treats. Despite the temptation, I don’t pig out when I see a nice cake but I contend myself with a single slice savouring the mouth watering taste instead of polishing off the cake. All I need to do is say to myself is “nothing tastes as good as being lean and strong feels” and I’m right back on track.
Lately in the gym I hear many people who are writing off the month of December for training vowing to get in great shape in the New Year. This may be you and if so, you are failing to plan, and planning to fail. You expect to blow your diet and skip workouts over the holidays. You may expect to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, you won’t even make the effort. Instead of taking control, you resign yourself to maintenance at best, or back-sliding at worst. This negative expectancy leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the first week of January, you’re in the worst shape you have been in for a year and you frantically make New Year’s resolutions to shed the excess fat you’ve gained. Why not be the person whose New Year’s resolution is to be in the best shape of your life as opposed to the guilt-ridden person who wants to reclaim what you lost over the past year.
To accomplish this, you need to plan and schedule your workouts for the holiday season so it will keep you focussed. This way you are not trying to squeeze in a workout whenever you have time left over, you’ll find that there is never any time left over. You need to set compelling and written goals fitness and nutrition goals for the holiday period. The majority of people do not set goals of any sort over the Christmas period yet 80% of people who do are successful.
To achieve success, you need to plan, cheat meals or days in advance. Psychologically, you will be answering your cravings, and physiologically your body knows it will get excess calories so it can release fat cells whilst also boosting your metabolic rate. A few cheats a week over Xmas will not seriously affect your physique, that is once you are still training. If you do however fall completely off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up about it and give up all hope. No-one will ever be 100% strict with their diet and a slip up is no excuse to continue pigging out. To do that is like getting a puncture in your car and immediately get out of the car to puncture the other three wheels. That is how insane that line of thinking is!!
During the holiday season, you need to keep consistency with your eating patterns, even on Christmas day. Skipping breakfast to make room for the bigger dinner will be a great way to invite a binge that could set you back for days and lead to you having a bloated belly that rumbles like a bowlful of jelly while you open up the buckle on your belt as you sprawl yourself over the couch. By controlling your portion sizes, you have a better chance of beating the law of energy balance, i.e. calories in versus calories out. To drop body-fat, you must be in a caloric deficit.
Sure you’re friends will try and drag you down, but you must have high standards and don’t expect their standards to match yours. But, It is harder to soar like an eagle when you surround yourself with turkeys. The majority of people have planned in advance to fail over Christmas so you must not let their negative influence allow you to be dragged down.
No matter where you are, you will always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. If nothing else, you can choose to eat a small portion of something “bad” rather than a huge portion, thereby obeying the law of calorie balance. Chances are good that there’s probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. As you know, lean proteins and fibrous carbs are a great for getting lean, so fill up on the turkey breast, try to get a vegetable in there, and go easy on the desserts.
If you going to enjoy having a few drinks on special occasions, then go ahead and have a drink or two. But if you’re serious about your fitness goals, know that alcohol and muscles just don’t mix. It affects your energy levels to do workouts, your ability to burn fat, it is high in calories and it lowers testosterone for five days. By all means, toast in the New Year with a glass of wine, but know the one, that’s one too many and don’t binge drink.
In conclusion, there is no reason why health and fitness should spoil your holiday program neither should the holiday’s destroy your health and fitness program.