You can and should enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy being with family and going out with friends. You can go to holiday parties and have fun. You can enjoy a few “naughty” meals. You can have pizza, cakes and cold coffee with ice-cream. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself AND stay healthy, lean and fit through the holidays. All it takes is some planning, some goal-setting and little dose of old-fashioned discipline.
I’d like to share with you 10 ways, you can follow in your diet and stay in great shape over the holidays. If you follow this advice, then you’ll be one of the proud few with the kind of body, you so keenly desire to possess.
Aim to stay on your fitness program over the holidays:
“Fail to plan and you plan to fail” is a time worn statement, but it’s still one of the best success advice you will ever hear.
Not only do most women fail to plan, they consciously plan to fail over the holidays. Most of them expect to “blow” their diet and skip workouts over the holidays. They expect to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, they don’t even make the effort.
You can avoid this trap by planning to succeed through your holidays. Set up a positive expectation. Keep your standards up and don’t settle! Not only can you plan to “stay in shape” over the holidays, you can plan to improve! All you have to do is make the right (realistic) decision and expect success.
Plan all your workouts in advance:
You know your schedule is going to get hectic over the holidays. You’ll be cooking, shopping, attending the haphazard routine of the family , going to parties, traveling, visiting friends, and so on. To stay on your training and nutrition regimen is definitely going to take some sound time management skills.
Plan your schedule in advance. Anticipate what’s coming up. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. By doing so, you won’t be caught unprepared.
Use a schedule book or monthly calendar and “make appointments” for ALL your workouts for the next six weeks well in advance. Then, paste a copy where you will be forced to look at it every day. This is a powerful exercise that will keep you focused and force you to think about and prepare for each upcoming workout.
If you try to squeeze in your workouts and meals whenever you have time left over, you’ll find that there never IS any time left over! Somehow your daily activities always seem to “expand” to fill the hours in every day. So schedule your workouts and meal times in your calendar just like you would any other appointment or event. Once you’ve done that, stick to your schedule religiously.
Set some compelling training and fitness goals over the holiday period:
Goal setting should not be a once a year affair, it should be a continuous on-going process. You should always have your goals in writing and your list should be regularly updated and rewritten. If you only set goals once a year, you’re not going to accomplish much in your life.
The problem is that very few women set goals during the holidays. Set some big (achievable) goals that you can start working on during the holidays:
- Set a goal to lose the 25 lbs you’ve always wanted to lose NOW
- Set the goal to gain 10 lbs of solid muscle NOW.
Give yourself permission to have a planned “cheat day”:
A planned “cheat day” helps you to stay on your program better in the long run. If you’re too strict all the time, you’re setting yourself up for cravings and bingeing.
One cheat meal per week will have only a minor effect on your physique. If you’ve been on a strict, low carb and/or low calorie regimen, a cheat meal might actually be good for you! It will boost your metabolic rate and give your body the signal that you’re not starving and that it’s ok to keep burning a lot of calories.
Over the holidays, schedule your dinners and parties so they fall on your cheat day. Then, on the other days of the week, be steadfast! Just the fact that you know you have a “cheat day” coming up will relieve the pressure of staying on a strict diet for a long time.
Also, when you do have your cheat meal – ENJOY IT! If you’re going to eat it and feel guilty, then don’t have it at all. If you’ve stayed with the program all week long, then when “cheat day” rolls around, you deserve it!
If you fall off the fitness wagon, get right back on it:
Even if you fall completely off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Get right back on your program without missing another second.
Many women think their entire diet is ruined by one fall. They feel as if everything they’ve done prior to that day was wasted and there’s no sense going on. Or even worse, they drop out . Just because you mess up once doesn’t mean you should quit! You’re only human. Don’t let one small slip keep you derailed. Firmly plant your wheels back on the tracks and start rolling again.
Maintain your consistent eating schedule:
If there’s one thing that all women who successfully get lean and stay lean have in common, it’s consistency. Without it, you never get any momentum going. It’s like taking two steps forward, only to take three steps back.
Many women allow the busy Holidays to throw them off their regular eating schedule. They completely veer off their usual five or six small meals per day, or they start eating foods they would normally never eat (because “it’s there”).
Remember, you have to keep your metabolic engine revving all year round. Once you have it going, it’s fairly easy to keep it going. But once you lose it, it’s very difficult to get it going again because you must overcome inertia all over again. (An object at rest tends to stay at rest!)
On the major holiday event, when there’s a big dinner scheduled, many women tend to skip their morning and afternoon meals to “save room” for the big one later thinking this is a good idea. It’s not. This is a sure-fire way to invite a binge that could set your back for days.
Don’t lose your consistency or your momentum. Continue with your pattern of eating small, frequent meals all year round. All you have to do is count your holiday dinners as one of your regular meals and keep them light.
Control your portion sizes:
One of the most important rules to remember all through the holiday season is the law of energy balance, which states: To lose body fat, you must consume fewer calories than you burn up each day.
There are two corollaries to the law of energy balance:
(i) Too much of ANYTHING gets stored as fat – even healthy food.
(ii) Small amounts of anything – even junk food – will probably NOT get stored as fat as long as you don’t indulge too frequently.
There’s no reason to deprive yourself of things you enjoy. Just make sure you don’t overindulge. As long as you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, and you keep working out, it probably won’t end up around your waistline.
Don’t buy into the low standards and expectations of others:
Keep your standards high, but don’t expect others standards to be as high as yours. Remember that unlike most people you’ve decided to stay strong. Don’t let their negative influence drag you down.
When you’ve reached your pre-ordained limit, say “no, I am already stuffed” . When they offer you seconds on dessert, politely say, “no thank you, it was absolutely delicious, but I’m full, I can’t eat another bite.”
Make the best choices possible in every situation:
You might have well noticed tables that are covered with yards of chips, dips, tikkas, rolls, salami, punch, liquor, and a seemingly endless assortment of other goodies at parties? Well, did you also notice that there is usually a tray full of carrot sticks, cauliflower, celery and other healthy snacks too?
No matter where you are, you always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. If nothing else, you can choose to eat a small portion of something bad rather than a huge portion, thereby obeying the law of calorie balance.
Chances are good that there’s probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. As you know, lean proteins and fibrous carbs are a great for getting lean, so fill up on the chicken breast, try to get a vegetable in there, and go easy on the desserts.
Drink, lot of water to beat the heat:
As a rule, drink at least eight glasses of water a day. When you plan to attend a big dinner engagement, drink a few extra glasses to keep your appetite under control. If you think you are hungry, drink a glass or two of water first; then decide if you really are hungry and not just thirsty.
Do not fill up on water with the intent of decreasing your appetite and/or hunger pangs. Filling up on water for this purpose is another example of the diet mentality. Filling up on water instead of eating a well-balanced meal will make you feel bloated and temporarily full. However, by the next meal, you may be so famished that you eat anything in sight. Filling up on water to feel artificially full is not dealing with your physical hunger, but rather avoiding it. It will only reappear even greater later on.
Many of the fluids we drink are in fact dehydrating. Alcohol, coffee, and tea are just some of the fluids that don’t return water to our system after it is lost; they simply do not work to re-hydrate us. Try to drink water throughout the day to maintain a steady state of hydration. If your body isn’t getting enough fluids, it may send signals to you to eat more to obtain these fluids.
There’s no reason to let your training and nutrition program spoil your holidays, but there’s also no reason to let your holidays spoil your training and nutrition program either!