“At first, creating a habit is unbearable; then it’s uncomfortable; if you are consistent, it becomes unbreakable.”Justin Su’a, Mental Performance Coach for the Tampa Bay Rays
Ah, Tis the Season: The Season of family gatherings, amazing food, counting blessings, counting gifts, and (the unfortunate reality for many of us) counting a few extra pounds after the New Year!
As beautiful as this time of year is, there’s no question it comes with the stress of backtracking on your gains.
However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.
My advice going into this piece? Remember the rest of the year.
What do you do to stay healthy, regardless of the time of year? You lean on habits you’ve worked hard to establish and worked hard to make unbreakable, such as eating well and on a schedule, working out and resting.
I also know that regardless of all of that, there’s the desire to “treat yourself” a little – and this is awesome! You should indulge a bit. That’s what this time is for.
However, when one indulgence turns into a binge or going overboard, that’s where we have the issue of undoing all of our previous gains for the year. And if this has ever happened to you, you aren’t alone: 47 percent of people drop their dedication to a diet for the last six weeks at the end of the year, to indulge in cookies, other treats and heavy-but-tasty home cooked meals.
As I mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with having a cheat meal – and if you were ever going to, the holidays are the time to do it! Keeping in mind your habits you’ve developed to get you this far, and also using these tips below, will keep you on track as we shred into 2021.
Tips to Stay Shredded for the Season
Keep your morning routine.
I know you know, but the message bears repeating: MORNING ROUTINES ARE CRITICAL. And the great thing about this advice is that holiday chaos doesn’t really affect the early morning (before everyone wakes, haha), so you really have no reason to drop this habit!
Not only does a solid morning routine help prevent weight gain and keep your productivity top notch, it also gives you reason to dodge out of parties early, away from extra tempting food and drinks, and gives you time to get in your workouts before any holiday activities begin.
Don’t skip the workout.
You’ve worked hard to develop a strong habit: don’t let it fall to the wayside this month. Besides keeping your gains on track (or preventing weight gain if you have indulged) and buffering holiday stress holiday, working out escalates your energy levels so you can bust through the busier month. A good gym effort also bolsters your immune system. According to a 2017 study, 20 minutes of exercise may be all you need to keep illness at bay.
Eat before you go.
Bring on the parties – just eat a healthy meal before you go. Then, show up, say hello to the host and socialize. If you never pick up a plate or take a bite, no one will likely know. This will help keep you from being tempted due to hunger, and even if you end up having to take a bite, you’ll have the willpower to grab much less.
… Or at least pre-game.
Not like you did during your college years, when pre-gaming meant a beer with your shower. Rather, down a protein smoothie before heading out. And the thicker and frothier the better, according to one study. Protein sates your hunger, and the creamier it is, the more your brain perceives a substantial meal.
Check out my Swole Shake here for an idea.
Alternate cocktails with a glass of water.
Alcohol dehydrates. Replenish your water stores with a glass of H2O between cocktails. This practice will also ward off hangovers. One reminder trick, as prescribed by holistic doctor Dr. Holly Lucille, is to set a 45-minute timer on your phone; chug eight ounces down when it dings.
Taste, don’t dine.
Approach a party buffet like someone may approach sample day at the grocery store: Don’t go to fill your belly. Go simply to sample your favorite holiday treats as prepared by your favorite friends.
Drinks or dessert?
Choose. If you pick alcohol, skip the beer. Generally loaded with more calories and carbohydrates than liquor or wine, beer is an easy pass to avoid holiday weight gain. If you pick dessert, don’t be fooled by any items with a tasty fruit filling, as they get that thick, syrupy middle with the addition of butter and sugar. Rather, see if you can satiate your craving with some fresh fruit. If that doesn’t work, take something small and preferably flour-less.
Bring your own dish.
The key here is to bring something everyone may also like, and in a big enough portion so no one asks too many questions. Aka: just drop your guac off on the buffet table, and dig in when you’re ready!
Other ideas include bringing your own keto cookies (sneaky, I know), roasted veggies, or a larger version of what you’d make at home, so you can fill most of your plate with it.
There are two things to remember during this time of year: Remember the rest of the year and why you started, and also remember that it’s okay to have a little indulgence (one or two pieces). Follow this rule and the tips above, and you’ll be golden!