In part I of how not to gain weight over the holidays you learned how N.E.A.T. movement can benefit your daily calorie burn as well as proper strength training and public accountability. Now let’s talk about 5 more tips and strategies to keep you on track through the holidays.
1. Tracking what you eat: have you ever heard the phrase “what gets measured, gets managed?” Well it could not be any more applicable than this situation. I often tell people if you want flexibility then you need to have structure that allows you to be flexible. What I mean by that is if you do not have parameters of what your trying to accomplish, did you ever know if you were working outside those parameters and being too flexible? How would you know if you were operating within those parameters and enjoying the freedom and flexibility without any of the doubt and guilt of whether or not you are doing the right thing. If you have ever tried macro counting or what I like to call flexible dieting, it can be rather tedious to weigh and measure every calorie of food and drink you put into your body. Macro tracking is an excellent way to know exactly how much you are getting of not only calories but of each macronutrient. It does require some skill and time. If you want to further your education on this topic you can check out the webinar I did earlier this year on it.
Bottom line: Use any method to measure how many calories you are getting of the 3 different macronutrients, carbs, fat, and protein. You can use containers, you can weigh and measure on a scale, or you can simply use the hand, fist, thumb method. Once you know this baseline then you can make adjustments from there and this will give you the flexibility to add or subtract calories when you have big meals planned later that day like Thanksgiving or for the various holiday parties and gatherings.
2. Where do you want to spend your calories: Building off the last concept of tracking what you eat, your body composition is directly affected by caloric balance. If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight, if you eat less calories than you burn you will lose weight. Yes, there are a lot of hormonal things in play as well but the law of Thermodynamics is never wrong. To put it simply, when you know you are going to have a big Thanksgiving dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon on Thursday, pull the calories back on Wednesday and Thursday morning so that you have some extra calories to “spend” on Thanksgiving dinner. This will provide balance in your overall calorie budget for the week and calories are about the law of averages. If you average 14,000 calories a week it doesn’t matter whether you ate 2000 cal a day over those 7 days or if you ate 1000 cal for 3 days, 2,000 cal for 3 days, and 3,000 cal on 1 day.
Bottom line: if you can keep the calories you eat around what your body needs for maintenance of your current weight over the average of the week, you won’t gain weight.
3. Have a plan: I know this seems like it’s so simple it shouldn’t even be mentioned but if you don’t have a plan for what you are going to eat, when you are going to work out, and how all the other various things are going to happen throughout the day...nobody will plan for you. This can be as detailed as how many calories you are going to eat, at what time your going to eat, what your workout is going to be and when you are going to do it OR it can be as basic as eat protein and veggies with every meal, get at least 12,000 steps and don’t sit still for more than one hour. This is where a basic planning worksheet can help you plan your holidays and your workouts. Check out our Holiday planning worksheet (hyperlink to it) and the "how to" video (hyperlink for video) to help out.
Bottom line: take some time to plan out your holidays, this will be a well spent 15-20 minutes. Whatever holidays you celebrate, plan out the day before and the day of the holiday. Use some of the other strategies to plan your calories, plan your workouts/movement on those days, and how you are going to enjoy friends, family and food on those days.
4. Look at the big picture: When we set a goal of losing weight, building muscle, eating healthy and getting 8 hours of sleep a night it can be a little intimidating. There is a nearly 100% failure rate when we try to change 3 or more habits in our life at once. The simple answer to that is patience, the functional answer is to look at your overall outcome goal and break it into manageable daily habits you can start to implement in a systematic approach. Maybe you start with drinking 80 oz of water a day. After 2 weeks, you have developed a system with your new 20oz water bottle and drinking one of them every 3 hours, 4 times a day. Then you move on to the next habit of eating 800g of veggies and/or fruits every day. Once this is systematized into your life then you can move on to the next habit. The side effect of developing these systematic habits is losing weight and eating healthy.
Bottom line: Look at your outcome goal and decide what behaviors you need to do in order to move towards that goal. Break it into small manageable habits that can be implemented over weeks and months, not days or dependent on the season. How important are the next 6 weeks going to be in the overall outcome of your health? Start now because it's all about consistency over time.
5. Stop Making Excuses: Change the story you are telling yourself! The holidays are not 6-7 weeks long, the holidays are only 5 days, maybe 6 if you stretch it (I’m being generous here). Thanksgiving day, the day after, Christmas eve, Christmas day, New Year’s eve, New Year’s day. Using some of the strategies I have given you in the last article and in this one you can plan for those days and really enjoy yourself but not completely lose control. Once that day is done, get back to working on your healthy habits and keep working towards your goals. Don’t let each one of those holidays turn into 3, 4 or more days of going off the rails and slipping back into unhealthy habits.
Bottom line: It's a holi-day, not a holi-week or holi-month. The moment you stop telling yourself "It’s the holiday season so I’m just going to over eat and worry about my health at the beginning of January” and stop putting off improving your health, you'll start proving to yourself that you can do it. You’ll start building integrity with yourself and success will build on success.
I hope you have gotten a few good strategies and things to think about through this holiday season. Not to overstress this point but you should not have to try to figure all of this out on your own. Having a guide as well as someone to hold you accountable and maximize your efficiency through this whole process is paramount to not only success over the next 6 to 8 weeks but long-term success throughout your lifetime. If you want to find out more about what working with a coach can do for you, sign up for a free discovery call so we can answer all your questions.
Eat Smart, Be Happy