‘Tis the Season…for getting together with our loved ones, Christmas work parties and functions, enjoying drinks and “appies” with friends, celebratory drinks after work, festive luncheons, and Christmas baking and goodies everywhere you turn. It’s for this reason that January is THE most popular month of the year to make plans to “get fit” and “shed some holiday pounds”. After all, WHO would ever start (or continue with) a fitness or nutrition plan during the month of December that is filled with celebrations??
The one thing that people don’t consider is that we don’t celebrate each day ALL DAY LONG. If you are looking to “navigate” all the celebrations and eating while still working towards your nutrition goals, here are some tips I recommend:
- Start the day off with a solid breakfast that contains at least 20-25g of protein. During the festive season, it is easy to go over on your carbohydrates and fats (as they are what make the Christmas goodies and baking so tasty), but protein is not always as accessible, so be sure to get that in for the day.
- Drink 3-4L of water a day – keeping hydrated is important during the dry winter season, and it helps the body combat stress. It will also keep you from mindlessly eating from the staff room goodies and candy bowls. Hunger is often confused with dehydration. Don’t wait to drink water until you are thirsty; just keep a water bottle going all day.
- When joining the gang for drinks, choose club soda and a splash of lime as a mix to keep calories and sugars down. Alternatively, choose a glass of wine to sip at social gatherings. An ounce of wine is about 20 calories. An ounce of most distilled liquors are 70 calories. Calories in alcoholic drinks can quickly add up. When you order your drink, order a glass of water or sparkling water as well so you can sip between the two.
- When eating out, choose an entrée beginning with a protein that is accompanied by a starchy carb for energy (ie. rice, quinoa, sweet potato, potato) and vegetables. Most restaurants serve 4oz chicken breast or 6-8oz of steak. Protein takes longer to digest and not only will it keep you feeling fuller longer, but it helps balance sugar levels from carbohydrates. Many people try to keep their calories low by ordering salads, but the reality of most salads are they are high in fats (dressings, cheese, nuts, seeds) and carbohydrates (dried fruits, noodles, fruits) while not providing adequate amounts of protein. If you do order a salad, consider customizing by ordering double the meat, dressing on the side, etc.
- Control the meals you can, and enjoy or be choosey about the meals you can’t – If you tend to eat 5-6 times a day and you know that one of those meals will be a lunch/dinner/potluck meal, then stay on track with your eating the remaining meals. Also, if you know the meal out will not have a lot of lean protein choices, then have your protein before you go so that you can enjoy the options available. Protein powder is easily portable and mixable to have on hand anytime of the day to hit that protein macro.
- Track what you eat – the only way to know for sure if you are keeping on track with your meal plan is to be aware of what and how much you are eating. If your goal is fat loss, then you need to be eating in a calorie deficit. Baked goodies and drinks are an easy way to go over your plan within a few bites or sips. Although a Nanaimo bar may be a tasty two-bite treat, it may hold as much as 200-300 calories a square. Tracking macros and calories may not be right for everyone, but when you have an idea of the caloric value of foods, you can decide if you want the treat at hand, or choose something else you may enjoy more.
- Do not try and “make up” for indulging by doing extra cardio or eating just lettuce the next day – Get back on track with your next meal (whether that be the same day or the next day). There is no need to punish yourself with negative thoughts just because you enjoyed some treats or drinks. Besides, you can’t out-train your diet; you don’t “earn” food with workouts.
- It does not have to be an “all or nothing” approach – you can enjoy some festive indulgences and still keep your nutrition on track for the majority of the time. This will not only serve your nutrition goals, but it will keep you fueled for energy through the holidays.
There will never be an IDEAL time to start a fitness or nutrition plan. There will always be celebrations, weekends, events and eating out. The best time?…it’s actually right now. Not sure how to get started? Email me anytime, I’m happy to help you begin your journey.