Holiday Survival Plan
Five moves to keep your health and fitness goals in check around the holidays.
Whether you’ve been dieting and working out for the better part of this year or are still trying to get back into the swing of things after partying all summer (it happens to the best of us), you’re probably dreading the seemingly inevitable holiday weight gain.
Without a plan, you could easily experience weight gain in the ballpark of 3-10 pounds over the next eight weeks. Add to that the fact that most people move far less and hit the gym less and you can expect to lose muscle, too. Definitely not a great way to enter the new year.
There are five reasons I’ve found that the holidays tend to destroy people’s best intentions and five good moves to avoid them this time of year.
Reason 1: You use the term “holiday season.”
If you use the season as an excuse to overeat at every turn – regular peppermint mochas and pumpkin spice lattes, eating holiday-size meals and goodies on non-holidays, for example – it’s going to add up.
Your move: Go grab your calendar, plan ahead.
Figure out each upcoming holiday party, event, gathering, etc. Now, determine the occasions worth “relaxed meals” – meals you’d like to splurge on a little bit – and what days aren’t worth asking Santa for bigger jeans.
Reason 2: All-or-nothing is your way of life.
Let’s be honest: Whether you were partying hard or “gyming” hard all summer, you probably went all in. But for fitness and quality of life, consistency is the name of the game. And the game should always be one that you win.
Your move: Stop striving for perfection. Be realistic.
Instead, create some parameters and only play games you can win. Commit to a certain number of days you can realistically work out per week and commit to limiting calories to 10 times your bodyweight for females, and 12 times your bodyweight for men as a good starting point. Track with an app like MyFitnessPal or FatSecret’s Calorie Counter so you stay consistent.
Reason 3: Eating “clean” is your strategy.
Aside from just about everyone having a different expectation of what “eating clean” even means, it’s not a measurable and trackable means of staying consistent. Combine this with overeating on the holidays and you’re set up to pack on the pounds.
Your move: Allow yourself a few relaxed meals.
Here’s what I encourage my gym’s clients to do: Pick a relaxed meal and enjoy it. The other meals, fill up on low-fat protein like chicken, tuna, egg whites, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, as well as leafy greens. Be sure to drink a bunch of water, as well. A good plan is one or two palm-size servings of protein, and two fist-sized servings of vegetables. Two of these before or after your relaxed meal will ensure you don’t go completely crazy without setting harsh parameters when you should be enjoying yourself.
Reason 4: You’re moving way less than you were earlier in the year.
It’s darker out earlier, colder and you’re less inclined to get up and go. If you’re moving less and eating the same (or, as we all know by now, more) as the summertime, you’re probably going to slowly gain weight. This isn’t about gym time, it’s about less down time.
Your move: MOVE! Literally, just move more.
Park further from the grocery store, commit to walking around the office for five minutes every hour or 20 minutes on your lunch break, or walk your dog each time it warms up enough to be tolerable. When you go out, bundle up really warm so you don’t mind the extra few minutes of walking.
Reason 5: You’re going solo.
Fitness can be a drag and doing it alone is even worse. Before you know it, you’ve dropped out.
Your move: Find your tribe.
Choose a gym that has a great atmosphere, quality trainers and one that actually has you looking forward to working out. Even writing this as a fitness professional for nearly a decade and a gym owner for half that time, I still have a trainer to keep me accountable and workout with people that push me to do better, or at least have fun while I get quality work in. Sign up for a trial at a few different gyms, or a few sessions with a trainer or a group training gym, and find a great fit. The investment might be more than a few dollars, but ask Santa for the gift of fitness, fat loss, and a higher quality of life because it’s well worth it.
Mike Spagnola opened Edge Fitness & Performance in Cary in 2011 at just 20 years old. Today, Edge has a client base of more than 150 men and women of all fitness levels, from athlete to beginner, ages 10 to 65-plus. The coaching staff at Edge has helped hundreds in McHenry County reach their fitness and fat loss goals. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.