In a couple of weeks, we are all going to be bombarded with commercials advertising yet another diet to follow in order to “get back on track”; and before this, the perfect diet to follow during the holiday season….
Every year , many dread the notorious “holiday season weight gain” , sure that by the time it’s all over, they will be as plump as the roasted turkey that was present at the Christmas diner table. And as usual, the coming of the new year will leave many will their heads full of good resolutions; resolutions most won’t stick to.
Is the holiday season really something to fear?
I don’t think so: extra pounds come from bad habits that have been followed for years, a contrario, if you are a devoted and conscientious athlete, a few days a year won’t make a difference.
What I mean by this is that your knowledge and common sense are tools that will help you make the right choices concerning your diet and occasional indulgences.
Fitness is not only a physical process, but also a mental one – for this reason, too much rigidity in your routine is often counterproductive.
For this reason, it is a better choice to enjoy once in a while than to maintain an ultra strict diet; refusing to eat your aunt’s pumpkin pie because it won’t fit your macros will do you more harm than good.
Diet, (from Latin
dieta: way of life) is something that should be a part of your lifestyle, and not something you “try” by following the latest fad (high-protein, low-fat, low carb, liquids only…) Consider these “diets” as just another marketing ploy: there to make you buy endless frozen WeightWatcher meals and “miracle” products, not to mention photo-shopped pictures of models. Hey, someone needs to purchase those glossy magazines…
Also learn and understand that your diet should be seen as a habit or a ritual, with codes and privileged moments. This practice is what will allow you to win in the long term : the most efficient diet is one you can follow your entire life!
By keeping this in mind, the holiday season becomes a time of the year like any other. If you know how to discipline yourself throughout the year, then you should have no problem at all, and you won’t be able to use the holidays as an excuse to put on 50 pounds.
So, to reply to the question, it’s not the holiday season that should be feared, but rather (possibly) the confrontation with your own level of discipline. It’s going to be easier to turn down your aunts cooking that to admit to yourself that you lack self control.
Your diet is the reflection of your lifestyle, and it’s this reflection that will be projected during the holiday season. For this reason, the holidays can be a good time to check in on your eating habits.
Changing bad habits into good ones is great, but you shouldn’t wait for the new year before you:
- Practice a physical activity
- Stop smoking
- Get fresh air every day
- Wake up before noon
- Be polite with your mother in law…
Be aware of the habits that shape your life, and be objective enough to change what needs to be changed, without waiting for the sky to fall down beforehand. It’s by doing this that you will realize that very often, the only barriers in the way of your goals are psychological.
The same thing goes for your diet: by changing the “bad” habits (you are free to decide what these are), you become closer every day to accomplishing your goals. For the athlete, I would add that if your caloric intake is consistent 90% of the time, then the remaining 10% will change nothing for most (the few affected being, of course, professional bodybuilders or fitness models)
In fact, you can consider the holidays as a well-deserved break after 355 days of dedication (yes, even buying whey on vacation) ; deload, or take this time to meet new people, spend time with your friends and family around a great meal… in short, enjoy.
For the beginning athlete who has a hard time finding a diet that works for him/her, keep in mind that one’s desired body or performance level are processes that occur throughout months, years… and well beyond micro-management (meal frequency, timing, macro-composition, etc) which complicates life more than anything else.
Careful, I am not suggesting that details aren’t important; I just believe that it is a good idea to acquire the right reflexes and to understand how your body works before getting down to the nitty gritty and falling into extreme rigidity (after having watched an interview with Ronnie or Jay )
Once these reflexes and this understanding acquired, you will have a solid foundation which will allow you to enjoy the holidays in a non-detrimental way.
A few tips
How to prevent massive gluttony and hit your macro-nutrients?
If you are the cautious type, or are going to be competing soon, here are a few tips:
- Get in the habit of consuming at least one shaker or having a high-protein meal right when you wake up. Add a shaker or two during the day, and you most likely will have reached your daily protein requirements.
- At the table, don’t hesitate to fill your plate with vegetables. Their volume and high fiber content will help leave you satisfied!
- Don’t skimp on water throughout the day: Hydrate yourself.
- If you are obsessed *>ahem*< driven, and you plan on working out before the turkey is carved, then prioritize large muscle groups for which the anabolic response is high (Legs/Back).
- Chew slowly- it takes over 30 minutes for your brain to process that your stomach is full. By taking your time while eating, you will surely eat less.
- If you go out, you can always burn calories dancing at the club
- Try to avoid heavy meals in the evening, instead eat something light and satiating (rich in vegetables for example). Heavy meals at night won’t cause weight gain, but may negatively impact your sleep.
- Keep the principal of moderation in mind; Eating is great, eating too much…less great.
- Endurance athletes, take advantage of high-carb meals to restock your glycogen stores.
- Plan to workout in the morning (you will probably be busy later on!)
- If you are cutting, avoid eating right after you work out- wait an hour or two. You can also take this opportunity to increase your thermogenesis (i.e caffeine).
In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires- Benjamin Franklin
As for everyone else…Translated from French version, originally posted by Razique.