The time of year is fast approaching when people deal with a lot of temptation that may derail them from their fitness goals. But you don’t have to feel helpless when it comes staying on course. January guilt and re-written New Year’s resolutions is not a fate carved in stone. Now is a great time to strategize a holiday fitness survival plan that keeps you moving, motivated, eating clean, indulging a little and most importantly feeling sexy and dashing at your Holiday parties!
But before I get started, let’s debunk the myth that the average person gains 5-10 pounds over the holiday season. This just isn’t true. It’s estimated at 0.8, which isn’t a lot but can add up year after year and it’s not good that about 50% of the average yearly gain of 1.5 pounds is occurring over the Holidays. Realizing that you are not doomed to gain massive weight will alleviate unnecessary stress and help you think more clearly while strategizing a survival plan. A word of caution, though, overweight and obese test subjects (14%) gained an average of 5 lbs! So there was some variance. That also means that a portion of the test subjects must not have gained any weight or just a small fraction.
It’s important to note, however, that most Holiday weight studies are measuring scale weight and not body fat. Our body composition educated peeps at F5 Fitness know that this is not the best tracking method to measure fitness goals. We get out body fat tested regularly using hydrostatic weighing for the most accurate measurement of progress (or slacking). Who knows what the average muscle loss and body fat gain are over the Holiday season, but I’m willing to bet its a little more shocking than 0.8 pounds.
Anyway, here are my top ten-holiday health and fitness tips:
1) Believe its possible to have a great Holiday season, workout, eat healthily and be awesome. It may sound obvious, but if you don’t believe it, you have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting to Jan 1st with a leg up on those couch potato-ers. See yourself being active and making good choices. Believe it and own it! Even if this is the first year in ages, you are committing to health and fitness over the holidays know that you can succeed. Some of my best clients that stuck with me and saw amazing life changing results started in November and December. I know firsthand when you truly believe in a goal you can achieve it any time of year. I’ve made weight, cutting 10-15 pounds over the Holidays, not eating a single teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of flour or ounce of alcohol. Where there is a will, there is a way. The first step is believing, and that belief will take you far.
2) Plan you snazzy planner, you! Put this on your calendar right now as a 30-minute appointment at a time where you can sit quietly and write things down: “Plan Holiday Survival.” You have it scheduled right??? Okay, we can move on… So now when you have that appointment with yourself this is the plan: write down what you think your Top 5 Holiday Pitfalls are and then record how you will avoid them. Be specific!!! For example, detail when and where you will go for a workout while visiting family, set alarms and reminders on your phone. Write down fitness items to pack or meals you will make and bring to parties. Write down who you will call or text for motivation! Even write down what you will say when a certain family member tries to insist you eat her (fill in the black junk food item). To survive the Holidays, you must personalize your strategy… I’m about to give you MY top tips – they will help you get some good ideas, but make sure after reading this guide that you have that appointment with yourself and make the strategy your own. Don’t skip this VITAL step.
3) Do a hard push with your fitness routine through November and mid-December. Don’t let Thanksgiving trip you up. You can have one day of feasting, and it won’t derail your diet. No one ever got fat off one meal unless they told themselves that EVERY DAY! I’m not suggesting you go easy on yourself and allow yourself to fall short of the goal day after day. What I am suggesting is more a “fitness pro” state of mind. Don’t let one feast day give you a case of the f@$#%k –its. Plan out a reasonable workout schedule and nutrition plan now that takes you up until Christmas or even New Years. My plan is to do two weight lifting sessions, 2 Muay Thai pad work/sparring sessions and one sprint session per week. I have a clear written out plan with exact workouts for all my weightlifting days. I have all my workouts scheduled and more importantly I have a workout partner for those days/times that will keep me accountable. Sure I might get really busy and skip one or two days over the next couple months, but the most important part is that I HAVE a plan and am putting it in action to the best of my ability every day. Come December 25th I am taking a vacation to visit my brother in the Caribbean for 1 week… all bets are off then… but I usually run, swim and even lift weights while on vacation. I often bring Thai pads and gloves! I can’t think of anything more relaxing than my favorite activities in a tropical paradise! What will your plan be this season?
4) Initiate the “School Nights Principle” aka “Healthy Rules for Grown-Ups”. It’s a great life and fitness plan that allows you to eat healthy M-F and then live a little (within reason) on the weekends. Think of it as the 80/20 principle. Eat well 80% of the time and you can live a little 20% of the time. I suggest keeping a food journal to make sure your “estimations” are not off!
5) Breaking a sweat makes things delicious. Want to know my favorite thing to do on Thanksgiving while the turkey is in the oven? Hit the gym! There is no better appetite stimulant to make all that delicious food taste amazing than a workout. No gym membership? Your regular gym closed? No problem! I always just pay a day free somewhere and go workout. A few sprints, some squats, deadlifts, pushups and pull ups help me earn my zinfandel and pumpkin pie with dinner (I just eat the filing with whip, hold the crust)!
6) Make it gluten-free! Those that know me know that I think that everyone should eliminate gluten from their diet for optimal health. It reduces body fat and weight among other benefits. Personally, I stay away from it all year round. But if you are looking for a simple way to reduce the amount of crap you eat over the holidays try a pact with yourself (and a friend if you can) to be gluten free. I’m bad at denying myself treats. Chocolate and ice cream are my kryptonite, but since making a pact with myself to be gluten free, it’s easy to avoid most party treats and family dinner pitfalls. I just say no, and I feel soooooo much better all around.
7) Is “healthy party-goer” an oxymoron? I don’t think so! Chances are you’ll have plenty of family get-togethers and Holiday social events where temptation will occur. For your sanity plan to give into a treat every so often, savor and relish the yumminess and get back on course afterward. But for those days where you want to be on your best behavior, be crafty… Offer to bring a dessert and bring a fruit plate to a party with a homemade whip. The fruit plate was my client’s idea (gold star for her!). The whip was my idea because I love whip cream and, in moderation, I believe pastured heavy whipping cream to be a delicious, and reasonable, treat in your life! You can also bring veggies and yogurt dip or your favorite sugar-free booze, like vodka, soda, and lime to the party. Or better yet, offer to drive, so you don’t over indulge! Always make sure you eat a meal before you go to a cocktail party. If not, you’ll be eating all the unhealthy appetizer junk you can find. Finally, if you are a lady go with a clutch purse to a Holiday party. If you have a cocktail in one hand and your purse in the other its hard to reach out for those mini quiches without having to set your purse down, which may prevent mindless party snacking. Guys, I have no specific wardrobe tips, but I will say that we find it classier when a guy doesn’t try to talk to us with his mouth full of pigs in a blanket.
8) Your sneakers fit in that suitcase, you know?! You can sprint or do body weight exercises almost anywhere. Need ideas check out my sprint workouts! No excuses. See #2 – make a plan and stick to it. If you can bring a mini foam roller with you when you travel that is perfect for getting all those car and airplane kinks out of your muscles. You can try to get your family involved too. Taking a family walk before dinner or playing sports with the kids is a good way to break up the day and stay active.
9) Sleeping beauty had one thing going for her… Sleep is healthy. It is also good for fat loss and muscle gain. If you are lucky enough to have time off work or school over the Holidays then try aiming for 8-9 hours of sleep a night. It will add to your overall health in a big way and maybe you’ll start to focus on sleep more throughout the year too.
10) 7 words that will save your health & your waistline. Avoid office, friends or family peer pressure with this simple phrase: “No thank you, I don’t eat ________ (fill in any unhealthy food item here) because when I do I don’t feel good.” This phrase deflects any argument about your food choices and leaves the host no choice but to look like an asshole if they press the issue. I mean what polite person in their right mind would be like, “NOOOOO! I want you to feel BAD!” I don’t see that happening. Avoid getting into discussions about your food choices. Proudly declaring you are Plaleo or gluten free and blathering on about it’s benefits isn’t the most jolly dinner topic (trust me I’ve made this mistake), unless you are at your gym’s party. Just let the above phrase be the end of the discussion and move on to being a fun party-goer. Pay the host a compliment right after you say it if you are worried about the response. I’m sure they will forget you declined right away!
Okay so who’s with me to make this Holiday season truly healthy & happy and come January already have a kick start on those bigger goals?! Let’s do this! 😀