My favorite holiday dish is, without a doubt, pumpkin pie. But I don’t discriminate against any of the other holiday foods either! I love a juicy turkey or a rare prime rib and overfill the rest of my plate with the wonderful side dishes.
I love these without the guilt, because I know I will return to the gym, and I know I have tried and true habits to maintain the body composition I want. I believe that the way the fitness community can be, sometimes we have been led to believe that we have to feel guilty after eating like this, or else we will not be able to stay healthy or get the body composition that we are working tirelessly. at the gym. Or that attitude is all or nothing. So we have to give in to being unhealthy during the holidays, or we won’t enjoy it.
Thanksgiving rolls around, we overeat, and then the doom of what the next month and a half holds for our diets worries us. Holiday parties, sweets sitting around the workplace, peer pressure from family and friends to eat, Christmas and then New Years to top it off! And there’s probably some comfort eating to relieve the stress of the holidays to make your dreams of being healthy and having the body you deserve a reality. And it’s all justified around Thanksgiving when we say to ourselves, “It’s okay, I’ll get back in the gym in the New Year.”
It doesn’t have to be this way! You can still enjoy your holiday foods as well as stay healthy and still make progress towards your desired long-term body composition. Balance is key and honest self-reporting can and will hold you accountable for staying disciplined when needed. Studies show that people tend not to gain weight linearly throughout the year. Your average American will gain .5 to 2 kilos of body weight per year, but most of it happens during the 6 week period between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Here are a few tools to use, or concepts to keep in mind so you can stay on track during the holidays.
1.) The 80/20 principal. This principal uses moderation and some ground rules for consistency that help us stay on track toward our goals. This goal is not for people who are training for bodybuilding competitions. Waiting for a strict termination, your long-term goals are not realistic a strict diet that allows room for fun. This principal could also be called “Flexible God” that I wrote about before.
Basically, this principal says that as long as you are sticking to healthy and clean eating habits eighty percent of the time, then you will allow yourself to splurge about twenty percent of the time. This is a great way to eat some of your favorite foods and still maintain your path to fitness success. You can enjoy the pie after the meal at Thanksgiving, the milkshake with your kids, and the pizza on the weekend. This reduces shame when we spend a meal a day, or a few meals during the week, eating some extra calories.
There are limits to this! And the obvious danger would be that we might be a bit too flexible with our nutrition and under-report what we are eating to ourselves. Since you are not specifically counting your macronutrients when using this style of flexible dieting, it can be dangerous if you are not honest with yourself. When you eat certain foods, or when you eat in excess, you may feel and look a little more bloated temporarily, even though you’re eating healthy for the most part, and that’s okay . If you are staying active in the gym, you can change your attitude in that you are using these calories as fuel for a good workout. I always love eating a big personal record after a day of eating some junk the day before! Be specific about how often you’re using that “20%” to eat your fun foods and be honest about when you need to dial it back. And if you really have to, figure out the actual percentage of how often you are eating clean vs. eating for fun.
2.) Be active! You don’t have to be the one doing the 5k for gratitude, but if you do, I respect you and think you’re awesome! Sometimes it means you have to get back into the gym or get back into physical activity the day after the holiday or cheat meal. Personally, I’ve found that my best workouts come after a high-calorie day or a high-calorie meal a few hours before working out. This might not be possible on big days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but if you can be sure to exercise on a day when you know you’ll be enjoying the naughty treats, it’s you can make sure you’ll be good for those extra calories. use.
Overall, it comes with balance and self-awareness. If intuitive dieting or the flexible dieting method hasn’t worked for you in the past, it’s okay to be strict and measure your food and calories as long as you stick firmly to your limits. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Merry Christmas to you all!