Only four more days to the biggest party period of the year, everyone. I speak, of course, about Christmas, which for me really begins Friday evening when family starts coming into town, and doesn't actually end until after New Year's Day. It is a fantastic part of the year, and as anyone in the box will tell you, I'm visibly excited and anxious. Now, there is a small downside: the inevitable step back I, and I would bet you, take in fitness and health around the holidays. We're going to tackle that problem together here in this post.
1. Reassess Your Goals for This Season: Here is something that seems almost self-explanatory after you hear it, but before I heard it for the first time on a podcast recently, I had never really thought of it this way. During the holidays, your main goal is probably not going to be in the best shape you've been in all year. Unless you're about to do a body building contest, you don't need to be the leanest you. That probably is not your goal this season. Your goal may be to spend quality time with friends and family. Remember that, and don't beat yourself up for having that extra cookie from grandma.
2. Make Time to Sweat: I know, you're traveling, you have family commitments, there just isn't time. Except there is. Here is my rule of thumb on working out while hanging out with family: it only happens if it is the very first thing you do. My plan is to just get up and hit a quick body weight workout or run some intervals outside. This puts me in a great mood all day long, makes me more fun to be around, and also primes my body to deal with the food I'm absolutely going to be eating.
3. Bring a Jump Rope and Kettlebell: You may not have a kettlebell, but failing to prepare is preparing to fail (cue cliche face palm) and not having a jump rope is a cheap excuse. They are literally $10 and give you an infinite amount of cardio to be able to do in any situation. Combine double (or single) unders with some burpees, squat jumps, and push ups, and you'll be sweating up a storm in no time.
4. Prepare for that big holiday feast: Trying to practice restraint during your favorite meals of the year is silly. If you manage to somehow do it, you may only feel resentment toward your nutrition after, which sets you up for failure. Plus, it is almost impossible to resist those favorite foods you really only get once per year. So, instead, be incredible strict before it. For example, my favorite meal is Christmas Eve dinner. That day, I eat vegetables and protein. That's it until the party starts. My body is primed to handle the insulin spike, I've pumped myself full of healthy fiber and nutrients, and that meal tastes even better because of what I had eaten earlier.
5. Don't Turn that Two Day Celebration into Two Weeks: Look, what you do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in the long run, is probably not going to make or break your fat loss and fitness efforts. However, if you decide that every meal for the next two weeks is going to be unhealthy, you can do some long term damage. This article from Men's Health Magazine talks about how just six days of binge eating causes you to develop insulin resistance (prediabetic symptom) and the people in the study gained 8 pounds in those six days. That is a lot. Don't do that to yourself. Enjoy those few meals that are full of tradition and your favorite people, and leave it there.