Posted on December 12 2017
I love to eat - I always have. I especially love eating the food that is made for family holidays. I also used to love to eat a bit too much. After a bit of trial and error concerning diet and training each person discovers their stride, and keeping your bodyweight at an appropriate level isn’t necessarily as hard as it once seemed to be. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, many people will either look in the mirror, or step on the scale, and realize that the holiday weight is beginning to be packed on. For most Americans, for better or worse, this holiday weight is a normal thing. Many of us gather for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with family and friends. These gatherings consist of alcoholic drinks (for those 21 and over) and an abundance of food. Sometimes you are blessed (or not blessed) to have to attend multiple different events for one holiday. It is easy to consume more food and caloric beverages that your body is used to, and the weight seems to always pack on a bit easier this time of year. There are a couple of different things that go into finding an appropriate balance around the holiday season. Finding your balance can come from experience, having goals set for yourself, or simply changing your mindset going into the holiday season. There is definitely a way to enjoy yourself, while also keeping your body in reasonable shape and at an appropriate body weight.
First off, these statements should be prefaced with a disclaimer that everything in here is merely opinion and personal advice. Everyone here at the BPN HQ has had at least one miserable holiday from being to strict or a holiday season where we enjoyed ourselves a little too much and hit new highs on the scale. If you have made a personal choice to be overly strict or to embrace the dirty bulk, then there is nothing stopping you. People who are cutting weight for a competition for any reason are also in a different scenario than the rest of us. For those of us in between, here are some tips to keep in mind this holiday season to ensure you have a balanced, enjoyable holiday.
Try to keep in mind that your training sessions this time of year can actually be more intense and productive due to the fact that your body (most likely) is getting in more than enough calories to build muscle. The feeling is a bit bittersweet. You know you are putting up more weight than you ever have, but you also realize your body weight is rising, and you are a bit softer than usual. I like to look at this as a positive and take advantage of the time where the weights are moving well. Keeping intensity up during these training sessions can help balance your caloric intake to expenditure ratio. Keeping on the topic of training, turning training on the mornings of holidays into a tradition can be a way for you to mentally justify the big meals and also help that intake to expenditure ratio as well the morning before total food destruction. Sometimes people without 24 hour gyms can run into problems, but if you have a 24 hour gym in your local area, waking up early to train before the festivities can be a fun tradition. There are a couple of different options I have found on the food side of things to help mitigate the damage done by holiday season of feasting. The week before the big day it can’t hurt to try and keep the calories on the lower side. The meal will serve as a treat and the carbs will replenish your already low glycogen before “spilling over.” While that may sound a lot like bro science, I do find that big meals if used correctly can help me fill out instead of look soft. I personally enjoy utilizing fasting during the holiday season. Using fasting as a tool during the holidays makes it easier for me to enjoy my meals and not feel constantly full and bloated. I like using fasting in the summers as well in the mornings. I find I am not hungry first thing in the morning, and that delaying my first meal actually gives me more energy and better results concerning the diet and the gym.
It is an unfortunate fact for some of us that the act of eating and having drinks around the holidays can cause feelings of guilt. People who are too strict with their regiments, diets, macros, or any dietary limitation can experience feelings of guilt after a couple days of being off of the wagon. As much as I love routine and sticking to a plan, the holidays in my opinion should be a time of sharing experiences with your family and friends. This ultimately matters more to me than abstaining from certain foods or drinks during the holidays just to wake up the same body weight as the day before. If you have made a commitment to a plan or just enjoy the ultra-disciplined approach then nobody is stopping you. For the rest of us, finding that balance between completely abstaining and bingeing is key for the holiday season. Getting back on track with consistent training and proper nutrition is also key after the holidays. Balance is not only enjoying yourself, but also putting in the work and effort into your health and physique so when those days do come around, you can enjoy them.