It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we here at OneUpped couldn’t be happier. The cold weather, the lights and decorations, the great winter style, and the food! My god, the food! Home-baked holiday cookies, pies, Christmas ham, wine – it’s all too good to pass up. But how do you manage to enjoy the plethora of pastries and dinners while sticking to your health and fitness regimen and keeping lean? It’s actually easier than you think, it just takes a bit of foresight. So here are three tips to ensure you stay a lean mean sugar cookie eating machine this year.
1. Do The Math
In my article Why You Don’t Have Abs, I talked extensively about calorie consumption and how to determine how many calories you need to consume in a day to either gain, lose, or maintain weight. The reason most people have such a problem with weight gain during the holidays is because they overindulge and consume far too many calories, creating a calorie surplus and thus packing on the pounds.
So how do you avoid this particular pitfall? You plug in the holiday calories to your daily caloric numbers and adjust accordingly. Going to a friend’s house for drinks and desserts? Do some quick math and factor in the calories from the egg nog, apple pie, and Christmas tree-shaped cookies to your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). If your nutrition plan has you consuming 2,000 calories per day and you’re about to shovel 600 calories of sweets and drinks into your mouth, just be sure that you’ve got 1,400 calories of clean food on your plate throughout the day to leave room in the budget for the fun stuff.
2. All Things In Moderation
Now we know we need to leave room in our dietary budget for the fun foods. But sometimes people can take this idea too far and decide to forgo their calories throughout the day, and show up to the party starving and ready to wolf down everything in sight.
Bad idea. Why? Because moderation is the key to a healthy and lean lifestyle and body. The beauty of being the fit and nutritionally knowledgeable son of a gun that you are is that you know you can live a little without wrecking all your wonderful progress. A slice of pie? Go for it! A cookie or two? Of course, champ! 12 cookies, five pieces of ham, a pound of mashed potatoes, and three slices of apple pie with ice cream on top? Calling you an idiot would be an insult to stupid people.
The foundation of any good nutrition plan is made up of good, clean, healthy foods; fruits, vegetables, lean meats, beans, and the like. Working in a couple hundred empty calories for the fun stuff is easy. Working in a couple thousand just isn’t going to happen; you’re not getting the proper balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates when you fill your diet with pastries, candy, and alcohol. Don’t restrict yourself and avoid the fun foods altogether, just have a bit of self-control and eat them moderately in conjunction with your typical healthy diet.
3. Don’t Skip Your Workouts
It can be easy to adopt a vacation mindset when this time of year rolls around. Let’s be honest here, between holiday shopping, arranging visits with family, decorating, making time for holiday activities, and everything else that the season brings with it, hitting the gym can sometimes slip down our list of priorities. But the fact is that if you want to get through the next month without sliding backwards and saying sayonara to all your hard work and results, you’ve got to tough it out and make time for your workouts.
Get up a little earlier and get your gym time in before your day gets started, find a few good at-home bodyweight workouts you can crank out if holiday plans jam up your schedule, throw on your favorite Christmas record and go for a run in the crisp cold air. Whatever you need to do to make your fitness a priority, do it. There is no worse feeling than slacking on your workouts and diet, then looking in the mirror when all the Christmas chaos has died down and realizing your laziness just created a mountain of work for you to do just to get back to where you were a month or two before. Don’t be that guy – stick to your fitness schedule and make time to stay healthy.
Surviving the holidays can be tough, but with a little bit of will power and armed with the right knowledge, you can get through the season without going up a pant size.