How To Stay Fit During The Holidays
Autumn is finally upon us, and the year is rapidly coming to a close – which can only mean one thing… Pumpkin spice! Yes, the basic white girl seizure-inducing items have made their triumphant return with a comeback harder than a slap from Will Smith himself.
Let’s be honest, we all love our pumpkin spice – there’s no need to hide it. Fall has arrived, and so have many of our other seasonal favorite food items and treats. Now, if you’re a gym rat this is both a great thing and also a bad thing.
Why, you ask? Well, as we start to inch our way closer to the Holidays, we’re getting into dicey territory as Halloween parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's start to make their way into our lives. With that being said, there’s a lot of food consumption during this timeframe and it’s typically the unhealthiest time of year.
Great food, especially during the Holidays, is always relaxing and enjoyable but there’s a high chance that you could overdo it and make many mistakes during this time. Standard protocol for us gym-goers is always to ‘take it easy’ or ‘make better choices’ but let’s get real for a moment – there’s no way we can be 100% consistent during the Holidays unless we are completely dialed in.
Now, that’s not to say most people get fat during the Holidays but it is a common trend to see people get severely off track and ruin a lot of progress made. What if I told you there are some basic general guidelines you can follow to help you stay in shape while enjoying your favorite seasonal foods?
Let’s take a look at all the ways you can stay focused, and committed, and be able to indulge in your home-cooked Holiday buffet treats while still maintaining your gym bod.
The Ultimate Guide for Holiday Eating
Staying focused on your fitness goals during the final stretch of the year is always important, especially as our eyes and stomach are telling us to take a slice of that pumpkin pie or have a second serving of your Thanksgiving dinner. Those inner thoughts of “Oh, I’ll just workout harder tomorrow” or “One day won’t hurt” can eventually end up turning into multiple days and then weeks…
This is not a good way to stay on top of your goals at all and in fact, all that progress you made during the year can start to wither away as you stray further and further from your diet. Strategizing, creating, and adapting to a plan on how to attack the Holidays is going to be your best line of defense and it all starts with creating solutions and this is where we’ll begin.
Be Smart with Food Choices
As simple as it sounds, this is where most people go wrong and start to slip up. Making smart choices doesn’t mean you should adhere to an IIFYM type of lifestyle. Just because something fits your macros does not mean you should be following that structure during the Holidays. Your body still needs the proper nutritional resources to perform at an optimal rate.
If you’re shoveling down apple pie and sweet potato casserole to get to 2500 calories per day, you’re still not supplying your body with enough protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates you need. 2500 calories of garbage are not the same as 2500 calories of clean and nutritional food items. We can debate this for eternity but that’s factual. Calories in and calories out do not cross out the negatives of eating pure trash each day.
There will always be plenty of smarter options to choose from at the dinner table and/or restaurants you go to for family holiday parties. If you find that healthier food options are limited, try to eat your planned meals ahead of time and take part in a small treat if you still want to enjoy the festivities. This way, you can stay relatively full so you’re not thinking directly with your stomach only, and also reduce the desire to binge eat.
Have fun but be practical and always prepare ahead of time just on the off chance that there are minimal options that help you stay within your diet.
Use Glucose Disposal Agents
If you’re not keen on the idea of going off-plan a bit with those Holiday meal selections, fear not. As we all know, carb timing and carbohydrates, in general, are essential to giving our body the energy we need to go and have a good workout. That’s typically why you find that your workout the day after a cheat meal is always the best.
Your muscles are full, and your energy is much higher as a result. Glucose disposal agent supplements are the perfect addition to your Holiday survival guide as they can be used for every high-carb meal and cheat meal to help with nutrient partitioning and convert stored fat into energy.
That’s not to say that you should go and binge a ton of carbs and expect a GDA supplement to offset any of this or help keep weight off. However, the benefits of using GDAs are perfect for those pre-planned meals you’re expecting to eat around the Holidays – I mean, why not help use them to your advantage?
NuEthix Formulations leads the charge in this category specifically with the scientifically researched and cleverly formulated, GDA-Max+. Voted best for maintaining and restoring insulin sensitivity, GDA-Max+ is the ultimate addition to your Holiday preparation.
Now, if you’re looking for a great formulation without the complexity, NuEthix Formulations also offers their “little sister” to GDA-Max+ with the all-new and bestselling glucose disposal agent that just hit the market, Slin-Trol™.
Ramp Up Training Intensity
Maximizing muscle growth and strength is critical during the Holiday season and one simple yet effective method is to start training harder. Listen, if you’re going to eat big, you might as well lift big and train like a machine.
Use these larger meals to your advantage while not going overboard by focusing more time on your overall workout intensity. If you’re not training hard and you’re not burning those excess calories you’re giving your body, then you’re not going to be progressing very much.
Rewarding your hard work is excellent, and if you know you’re going to have a big week planned with the family that involves a lot of food – make sure you earn it. You’ll feel less guilty about the consumption of your favorite unhealthy foods, and you’ll be able to stay on track from a physique standpoint as you’re burning a lot of calories with harder training sessions.
If you don’t plan on going hard in the gym, then don’t plan on going hard at the dinner table. Make sure you’re increasing your cardio and really pushing your body to assist with muscle growth as your caloric intake starts to go up.
Bulking season is essential to building muscle, but you know what’s not cool? Gaining more fat than muscle. The whole “I’m bulking, bro.” doesn’t mean anything when you’re simply not busting your ass in the gym – if anything, you’re not going to make much progress in the strength department and it’s going to derail your physique when you hit shredding season.
I believe the quote is, “Train insane or remain the same. – Jillian Michaels” – Michael Scott
Portion Size, Plan Around Meals
This one is very simple, and I mean very simple. If you know that you have a party to attend where there’s going to be a massive platter of off-plan foods, just plan around it. By this, I mean make sure you accommodate your diet by understanding your daily macro goals and what meals you can either skip or workaround so you can add in some room for any non-diet foods while not going over your goals for the day.
Opting for smaller portions and adequately adjusting your meals around this will be your best option to avoid any diet-related problems. If you know you’re going to have a big meal, start to take away from your meals throughout the day and adjust accordingly. This way, you don’t have to sacrifice going over your macro goals and you’re still able to enjoy tasty food.
If you plan on having more fat at your family dinner, then cut back on your fat from your other meals and do the same for carbohydrates. Just be sure to get your protein in, don’t just go for sweets – always try to hit your protein goal and throw in some micronutrients like green beans and other fibrous vegetables.
Don’t Scare Yourself
This time of the year is meant for relaxation and enjoying good food and memories with family. It’s perfectly fine to live a little and let loose – we’re here for a good time, not a long time. Don’t miss out on fun just because you feel like you need to be strict on your diet.
Unless you’re competing, it’s normal and acceptable to stray away from your diet just a little bit. If you’re staying on top of everything the best you can, then enjoy yourself! Don’t go overboard and don’t stress if you feel guilty about indulging in a non-planned cheat meal.
The stress of the Holiday season is enough; don’t continue to add to it when you don’t need to. One or two cheat meals are not going to make you lose all progress. Constantly stressing and living inside of your head is going to do more damage than one cheat meal will as cortisol can play a huge role in weight loss and weight gain.
Kick back and let loose a little.
The Take Home
Holidays are tricky to work around if you’re big into health and fitness, but it doesn’t have to be a major obstacle in your path to gains. Coming up with a plan of attack while accommodating all of the essential events is pretty simple to navigate and still stay on track of everything.
Use these simple tips to your benefit and don’t overthink it, as long as you don’t stray too far off the path then you should have no problem balancing fitness and the Holidays.
Figure out what works best for you and adapt accordingly. Should you find yourself getting a bit too lax with everything, then revisit these methods and prep yourself mentally so you can get back on track because it certainly can happen.