Winning The Holidays! Holiday Tips For Staying On Track

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Welcome back to another hot topic, staying on track throughout the holidays! As a personal trainer, I pride myself on living a relatively balanced lifestyle but this doesn’t mean I don’t indulge in some of life’s pleasures. Not everyone enjoys drinking or partying but when the holidays come around it almost feels like it’s not even our choice anymore! Peer pressure is a real thing and I’ve heard countless stories from people who work in sales about how they have to keep up the “act” year-round. I believe to some degree that we are all likely to experience this around the holiday season. Clients or colleagues asking us out to a Christmas party that we’re not particularly privy to (or maybe you are!) but have to go to anyway. So, with that in mind, how do we stay on track? If you’re someone who loves the holidays and loves to indulge, or if you are someone who can’t wait for it to be over, I’ve got some key pointers to help you get through this and stay on target! 

Note: If your goal is to gain weight or put on muscle, most of these points will likely be less relevant to you. Although, just because you’re looking to gain, doesn’t mean your diet or exercise routine has to suffer. Weight gain is a different topic that I’m willing to cover in the future. The information in this article might be less relevant to you but that does not render it useless! 

 

Planning

 

Let’s start with what you can do today. As with every challenge in life, it’s always better to have a plan! If you know that you will be attending events over the holidays that serve food and drinks, it’s not a bad idea to have a mental checklist of some items that align with your goals. Whether you’re on a weight loss journey or just trying not to go fully off the rails, consider these points:

  • Exercise

Get it done first thing in the day! This might be obvious but with things getting so busy around this time of the year, it’s easy to miss. So, the best strategy is to look ahead at your week and be sure to schedule your workouts around your events. This means that if you know there’s a party on Friday and you’ll be drinking, get your workouts in before then. Yes, you might be hungover on Saturday too so if you had a workout planned for then, expect it won’t happen and move it to Sunday. This is a simple concept, but I see people using the “not enough time” excuse all too often when all you had to do was plan around it. If your health is a priority, make a plan that reflects it, don’t lie to yourself about why you couldn’t get a workout in. We all know you can, you just need a plan! 

  • Hard alcohol over beer or wine. 

You’ve probably heard this one before—bodybuilders and personal trainers that only drink vodka soda. Well, there’s a reason for that, it tends to be fewer calories than the other options. I’ve even seen people do vodka water…ew! I’m not saying that you must drink hard alcohol like vodka, tequila, or whiskey. No, if you want to drink beer or wine then go ahead! Just keep in mind that if you’re on a calorie-strict diet, this will mean you have to eat even less that week/day. Therefore, when planning to drink, it just makes life easier when your drinks have fewer calories too. It’s less stressful and easier to stay on track because you can have more space for meals that fill you up, unlike alcohol. So before you go out, do some research on low-calorie drinks and have a mental list of some choices that better suit your personal goals. Oh and one more thing, drink lots of water! 

  • Protein, fruits, and vegetables first.

Cake, donuts, cookies, etc. I love all of these things. Unfortunately, they sometimes don’t align with our goals. So, when you walk into a room and these kinds of foods are the only option, I hope you saved room! Because I don’t think it’s fair to expect anyone to abstain from enjoying a cookie or two! If you arrive with the expectation that you’ll be eating cake and cookies then just plan for it. When you’re planning your meals for the day or week just consider that you’ll be consuming some high-calorie dense foods at the party. In addition to this, if there are options at the party that entail protein, fruits, or vegetables, I would highly recommend targeting these first and then moving on to the high-calorie stuff later. If you fill up on protein before having cake then you will be less inclined to have additional slices. This is a great way to still feel satisfied because now you’ve hit your protein goal for the day and you got to enjoy some cake too! 

 

One day at a time

 

Okay, so what if the plan doesn’t work out? What if you have an eating disorder and don’t feel comfortable tracking food? Or maybe coming up with a plan is just too stressful! That’s okay because it doesn’t matter as much as you think. Let’s put this into perspective: there are 365 days in a year and in Canada around 5 of those days are national holidays. That’s only 1.3% of the year. But let’s be real, we’re having more “cheat” days than 5 in a year. So let’s use my December schedule as an example, I have 7 events planned for December, the most I’ve ever had! That would mean 18.9% of my month could potentially be a write-off concerning my goals. If you’re like me and look at the calendar like “holy crap how am I going to survive this?” – don’t worry, I got your back. Because although 18.9% seems like a lot, that means you can still be winning 81.1% of the time and if my kids (which I don’t have) came home with an average like that in school, I would be proud. So don’t focus on the failures, focus on the success. What are you going to do for the other 24 days of the month? The biggest thing to avoid is falling into an endless spiral of failure. Failing is only failure if you let it continue. If you learn from it, get back on your feet, and move on, then failure is just a lesson or a pit stop. It doesn’t own you, it does not define you, it’s what makes you better. So go ahead, fall on your face, and land in the pie! Eat the cake, drink the beer, and have fun! That’s what the holidays are for. But just remember that’s not who you are year-round, you’re someone who has a goal with the drive to accomplish it! Go get ’em, tiger! 

 

Abstaining

 

On the surface, this seems almost pointless to talk about. But out of all the ideas discussed here, this one is probably the strongest. Some of us don’t want to drink, party, or fall out of our routine. We’ve worked so hard to get into a rhythm so why mess it up now? I feel the same way. I like routine and enjoy my life more when I’ve got a solid plan that’s inching me closer to my goals every day. So if you want to abstain completely from indulging in the holidays, then do it. Nobody can force you to cheat, and nowadays I find that a lot of people are quite supportive of this notion. For those that aren’t, well I have some tips for that too! 

In cases where you want to stand your ground but you have peers pressuring you to indulge in what they like, the best approach is usually honesty. If you’re surrounded by people who support and care for you, just explain where you are coming from and why you don’t want to participate in activities that don’t align with your goals. If they care and have a certain level of maturity, they will understand. In cases where this doesn’t work, there are some tricks of the trade that you can try. 

Being the designated driver! This is always an easy out, you can’t drink if you’re driving right? This has worked extremely well for me when I don’t want to drink. But what about food? When it comes to food, you can say that you’re on a diet, and in most cases, people will respect that without any questions asked. You can also say that you’re part of a diet study and signed an NDA (I’ve never used this one, so use it sparingly). Lastly, another tactic that I’ve seen used is the good ol’ fake drinking. Pull the bartender or server aside and ask that all of your future drinks are fakes, instead of rum and coke, it’s just diet coke (likewise for a vodka soda, just make it a soda). Although I don’t love the idea of lying, sometimes it’s necessary when dealing with pesky peers who might not understand where you’re coming from. So, hopefully, you’re surrounded by people who love you during the holidays and respect your choices, but in the odd chance that you’re not, there are some tricks for you! 

 

I hope you guys enjoyed today’s discussion. I was requested this topic by one of my clients. If you have any future requests for topics please feel free to reach out to me via text, email, or social media. I love talking about this stuff and providing value to those who need it! I appreciate your time and attention today and if you would like to support me please feel free to leave me a Google review or send me a testimonial via email. Thank you all for your support! 

See you soon,

Marc Calado