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Christmas is a time of the year where a lot of us panic about gaining weight!
(Those Roses staring at you in the office!)
This often ends up in your diet and training going out the window.
“I’ll start again in January.”
The problem with this is you spend the whole of January working your ass off to shift all the weight gained at Christmas!
DID YOU KNOW?
Nearly all weight gain we gain during the year is during the holiday season on average!
We then basically maintain for the rest of the year!
Research shows that weight gained during the holiday season isn’t typically lost during the rest of the year as well.
That is why it is so important to have strategies in place to minimize this weight gain while still enjoying the festive period!
Here’s 12 simple tips that will help you to maintain over the Christmas (while still having a life!) and put you in a really good position for January.
1.)Practice restraint not restriction.
Restriction is not allowing yourself something you might you usually enjoy having (a slice of cake for example).
What does this do?? It makes you want the cake even more if you tell yourself you are not allowed to eat it. This never usually ends well and could result in a binge where you end up eating a whole cake and letting it spiral out of control into a few days.
”I’ve already ruined everything. I may as well keep going.”
Just put it behind you and go focus on making better decisions with your next meal.
Classing foods as good or bad is going to cause a very unhealthy relationship with food.
Restraint can be described as moderation.
It’s finding balance and knowing that you can have some cake but you are not going to eat the whole thing. Finding a happy medium and allowing yourself some flexibility with your diet choices by practicing mindful eating! This promotes dietary adherence.
We are all human and we all have cravings. If you like cake, allow yourself some cake every now and again but know your limits and do not allow yourself to feel guilty afterwards.
Put it behind you and move on!
2.) Avoid mindless snacking.
This is one of the biggest causes of fat gain over the holiday period!
Just eating for the sake of it when you might not even want it.
This is partly due to the increase in temptations and availability of foods during the festive season.
People will eat foods during the festive season that they wouldn’t usually consume throughout the year.
That box of Roses in work that you pick at all day?
They may be small but they add up very quickly!!
If you have one every hour and work an 8 hour day, that’s about 320 extra calories per day!!
1,600 extra calories across the working week.
Before any food, alcohol or nights out!!
Yes it is Christmas but you need to be smart with your choices and try to avoid mindless snacking.
If you really enjoy having Roses, at least sit down when you are eating them and enjoy them!
3.) Aim to maintain.
DO NOT TRY TO DIET OVER CHRISMTAS.
I REPEAT, DO NOT DIET OVER CHRISTMAS!!
Unless you are being paid a very large sum of money to look a certain way, it’s 100% unnecessary to diet during the Christmas period.
The goal is to maintain.
If you are currently dieting, move up to maintenance calories.
Even add in an extra few hundred to give you some wiggle room to enjoy the festivities!
For example, if you maintain your weight on 2,000 calories, set a target of 2,500 calories. That puts you in 500 calories per day of a surplus.
Over two weeks of Christmas, that’s abut 7,000 caloreis extra which is approx 2 lbs of fat gain!!
Gaining 2 lbs of fat over the Christmas is barely noticeable (very easy to lose that with a week or two of dieting) and you will have so much more flexibility to enjoy nights out/meals with friend and family etc with the extra 500 calories.
There is plenty of time in the new year to get back on track with your fat loss journey.
If you have only gained 2 lbs over Christmas, you will have that gone again before you know it and psychologically it’s much better as you planned it!
4.) Plan & prepare.
Plan your nights out!
Just having a rough idea of your schedule over Christmas will allow you to work around it.
There are going to be PLENTY of nights out, dinner parties and drinks so it’s important to try and stay on track as best you can outside of these events.
If you are going out Stephen’s night for example, prepare your meals for the following day. If you are organised, it will limit the chances of you ordering a takeaway.
Sure there are going to be times over the Christmas when you might have a takeaway, but plan them wisely so you can look forward to them!
There’s a big difference between planning a meal with friends vs just randomly getting a takeaway and eating your body weight in junk food!
5.) Bank your calories.
This is an option for someone who wants to stay on track as much as possible and not go too overboard with the festivities.
If you track calories, you can reduce by 2-300 in the days prior to or after to create more room for food/drink for the planned occasion.
If you don’t count calories, you can consciously eat a little less in the days before or after (increase lean meat & fruit/veg, decrease snacks/carbs/fats).
There are many variations of this so just do what’s best for you.
Using these types of strategies will help you to maintain your weight over Christmas while not stressing or being too strict (up to a point obviously).
Important note: When you use these strategies, your scale weight will most likely fluctuate greatly due to different factors like eating different foods, being in a different routine, stress, alcohol, meals out and much more.
So just keep that in mind and look at it objectively.
If the scales is up 3 lbs after a night out, it is not fat gain!! It’s water retention and will drop again once you are back eating well and hydrated.
6.) Choose low calorie drinks.
A vodka/gin and diet mixer for example is about 70 calories or a bottle of light beer such as Coors Light is 102 calories.
A large bottle of Bulmers is 250 calories.
That’s between 148-180 calories in the difference between both options if you make that switch.
Times that by the amount of drinks you are going to have each night.
Times that by the amount of nights you are going out.
It makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!
Other high calorie drinks to be careful of are cocktails or pints of beer, Guinness, Smithwicks etc.
Sure have a Christmas cocktail but switch back to a lower calorie alternative after one or two.
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7.) Keep active during the holidays.
We generally spend a lot of our time off over the Christmas lying around and relaxing.
(In by the warm fire!)
This ends up in people’s activity levels going way down.
So you get hit both ways here, you don’t burn as many calories each day as you are moving less and you are eating/snacking more!
For example you might overeat by 300 calories. But your activity levels are also down so your total energy expenditure might be down by 300 calories also.
This ends up being a 600 calorie shift in the wrong direction!!
You multiply that by 2 weeks and it makes a difference!
Try to keep as active as possible. This doesn’t have to be walking on a treadmill in a gym!
Playing with the kids.
Planned activities that are active.
Park further away.
There’s lots of different ways to get more active!
8.) Try high volume training.
I like to not focus on strength training over the Christmas period and instead use high volume training.
Try some higher rep work with more sets and shorter rest periods. (metabolite training).
Higher volume training will help to deplete glycogen stores so the extra carbs being consumed can go towards replenishing these stores.
Adding in intensity techniques like dropsets, supersets and myoreps can be useful during this time.
This will keep things fun and interesting, and you won’t feel pressure to go in and have to lift X amount on a certain day.
You also will probably be training less & resting more over the festive period so you don’t have to worry about recovery capabilities as much.
9.) Put those extra calories to good use.
You don’t need to be in the gym every day but do try get a few workouts in over the Christmas and put all those extra calories to good use.
A lot of people stop going to the gym altogether over the Christmas which is another reason why they gain weight.
Because you are in a calorie surplus (overeating), you are putting your body in the best position to gain muscle so why not fit in a workout here and there!
If you aren’t training, those extra calories will more than likely be stored as fat.
10.) Fill your plate with veg and lean protein.
This is a great way to prevent over eating. Fill up on lean cuts of meat and vegetables and then go back for the higher calorie food options after.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient so it will keep you full for longest. Vegetables are very low in calories and high in volume so you will feel a lot fuller by eating lots of veg.
Go back for the mashed potato and roast potato etc after but just be aware of portion control as these are much higher in calories than vegetables/lean cuts of meat.
11.) Try intermittent fasting or time restricted eating. (TRE)
Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating reduces the eating window you have in the day which can help with reducing your overall calories consumed.
If you usually have your breakfast at 7am.
Last snack before bed at 10:30pm.
Your eating window is 15.5 hours in the day.
Using TRE or fasting:
First meal at 10am.
Last meal at 8pm.
Your eating window is now 10 hours.
An easy way to implement this is If you normally have your breakfast at 8a.m., push that meal back to later in the day and just have tea/coffee and water for breakfast.
If you are going for a meal out/ to a party, this can be a great tool. By pushing that first meal back, you are eating less throughout the day and have more calories then for the night ahead.
This is only one way of doing it.
Intermittent fasting/ TRE works great for some people but others may not like it so do what’s best for you.
12.) Have no regrets.
Whatever you do over the Christmas, enjoy yourself and don’t feel guilty about the food choices you might have made. Appreciate all the memories you have made with family and friends.
Don’t try punish yourself by starving yourself in January or doing hours of endless cardio. Set yourself up to succeed by getting your diet and training on track.
Take a minute to think about what tips will you implement over the Christmas period?
You don’t need to implement all of them, even doing 3-4 of these will really help over the coming weeks!
I hope you found these tips helpful and be sure to share them with a friend if you enjoyed them.
Thanks guys and have a wonderful Christmas!
Coaches Matt & Eve.
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