You’ve worked hard all year long. You’ve stuck with your healthy eating nutrition protocol, you’ve hit the gym regularly, and you’ve seen great results.
Now, the holidays loom before you and you may be experiencing quite a bit of anxiety. How will you ever keep yourself on track? You know you’ll be surrounded by mouth-watering holiday treats, so you start to wonder if it’s possible to ring in the New Year without the typical 5kg weight gain!
The great news is that it’s very much possible! Although you will need a game plan, a few simple rules and a smart approach so you can get through the festivities feeling your best and, more importantly having enjoyed what the holidays have to offer.
Let me share with you a few tips that are sure to make your holidays a success.
Focus on the People, Not the Food
Too many people put all the focus of the holidays on the food that’s served. While it’s great to look forward to the turkey stuffing, roasts, BBQs and all the chocolate goodies that float their way towards you this time of year, you simply shouldn’t make it the only thing that you look forward to.
Christmas or any holiday is really about enjoying friends and family, so always let that take centre stage. When you focus a little more on spending time with those you care about you might find that you focus less on the food.
Plan your Indulgences Ahead of Time
For most of us, we’re looking forward to the culinary delights that we just know will be served this time of year, after all you’ve waited all year for grandma’s famous stuffing, or mum’s delicious pudding dessert, or maybe those candy canes that you always ate as a kid and now you can’t seem to get enough of!
Choose a few items that you want to indulge in and make those your choices. Treating yourself to a few Christmas goodies isn’t going to derail all your progress. Treating yourself to all the Christmas goodies is.
Know the difference. Figure out what you’ll let yourself eat without guilt before the holidays start and stick to your game plan.
Cut Back, Don’t Starve
Which brings us to our next point – the approach to big meals. If you have a big meal ahead of you, for example your work Christmas party, do a little prep before this event. You want to build a calorie deficit going into the event so that if you do eat a little more than you should, you come out on track.
Don’t, however, starve yourself. Shaving 100-200 calories off each meal leading up to the event will get you a 500-800 calorie deficit to spend at that event. Starving yourself will get you a larger deficit, yes, but chances are you’ll be so hungry going in that you’ll want to eat everything in sight. This will really set you back.
It’s important that you can still maintain control over your eating but you simply can’t do that if you’re eating every bit of food in sight. Your best bet is to consume a few meals before the event that are focused on lean proteins and vegetables, things that fill you up and keep you satiated the most.
Eat Only Seasonal Items
Another thing that you’ll want to keep in mind is that you should only indulge in seasonal foods. Why spend calories on something you can get year round? It just doesn’t make sense when there are so many great seasonal foods to choose from.
Remember, you can only indulge in so much without suffering weight gain so make those choices carefully. Unless there are no seasonal foods you want to eat, back away from something that’s an everyday item.
Find Creative Ways to Get Active
The nutrition side is only half the equation to keeping yourself on track throughout the holidays. Exercise is the other half.
While it may be unrealistic to expect you to hit the gym four to five times per week this holiday season, that doesn’t mean you have to completely forgo activity.
Try coming up with fun ways to stay active during the month ahead. This might mean doing some window shopping with a friend instead of sitting down and catching up over coffee. It might mean taking the family out for a hike outside rather than sitting inside watching a movie. Or, it might mean cleaning the house from top to bottom to get ready for company (while it may not be a fun way to get active, it will definitely get you moving).
Get creative and see what you come up with. Always remember that you don’t have to be in the gym to burn calories or to make it ‘count’.
Finally, focus on staying positive. As hard as it may be when you experience a set-back and may start to feel like you’re gaining weight, remember that one small set-back doesn’t have to turn into a landslide.
Sure, gaining a kilo or two come the New Year is less than ideal and can be discouraging. But never forget, it’s a lot easier to lose a kilo or two than to lose 10 or 20 if you really let things go because of one small slip-up.
Remember that you are only human and can only do so much. Stay positive and know that you’re going to put in the effort, even if it means you don’t always succeed. Effort is what will get you through to the finish line.
Keep these tips in mind and you can walk into the New Year feeling great about your health and body composition, all the while having had one of the best holiday seasons yet.
...and remember, qualified nutritionists at Healthy Being are available to offer further general advice to help guide you in selecting the right products. So please, feel free to contact us at any time!
Shannon Clark is a qualified nutritionist and a regular contributor to Healthy Being Insights. She specialises in weight control and management as well as optimal fitness performance. She's devoted to helping readers obtain their own personal best health and fitness and stays on top the latest trends in the industry.