Tom, the personal trainer who founded Waite Training in Leeds has many tips to help you get started on working for your fitness goals.
The holiday season is one of the most challenging times to keep maintaining your weight, let alone trying to lose some more. There are just way too many opportunities to eat junk food, holiday goodies and lose control of your diet.
So what can you do to avoid the holiday binge and regret it all in January next year? Have you heard the "by failing to prepare, you're preparing to fail" saying? It applies to your holiday diet as well. This is why the best way to prevent January guilt is to develop strategies that will keep you in control throughout December. In this article, I'll be listing tips to help you with precisely that.
#1. Set Your Expectations Right
Unless you are a competitive athlete of any sport, you're better to accept that the next month or so won't be a period when you'll make the most significant progress in your fat loss journey. And that is OK.
Instead, figure out how you can balance enjoying your time with loved ones while not overdoing the cakes, puddings and a heck of a lot of holiday drinks. If you are happy with maintaining your current weight into next year, that's great. Figure out how much food you can eat without heavily running into a calorie surplus.
#2. Focus on Portion Control
Portion control is one of the most significant factors you must keep in mind when aiming to maintain your weight loss success over the holiday period. There are many ways you can ensure that you don't eat more than your body uses. If you prefer calorie counting, do that. Ensure you ask your personal trainer to help you calculate your modified daily intake if you're unsure how to do it yourself.
You can also stick to the good old hand-measure method. A palm of protein, a cupped handful of starchy carbs, a thumb-sized healthy fat source and plenty of fibrous vegetables should be included in each of your meals, 3-4 times a day.
Now, if the structure of having workouts scheduled in the diary helps you stick to your exercise regime, do that. However, during the holidays there are plenty of options where you can combine being active with socialising or even working out at home.
Organising active meet-ups with your family and friend instead of sitting in a pub all night will contribute to your daily calorie expenditure, so you'll be able to have your favourite hot winter drink without guilt. Think of hitting the ice rink, organising a hike or even a cycle ride.
#4. Ditch the Scale (or Keep Using it)
I appreciate this point is a little contradictory but hear me out. Some people use the scale as a point of reference and have no emotional attachment to the numbers on it.
If you're one of those people, you might want to stick to checking your weight regularly to catch any upward changes. Just keep in mind that your hormones, hydration, your evening meal and even alcohol can result in a higher number on the scale, so look for a trend rather than a one-off jump.
If you are affected by the number on the scale, you probably shouldn't use it very often anyway but certainly not when you are meant to celebrate. So I'd say ditch it for the month and focus on other strategies in this article instead.
#5. Stick to a Plate
Make a point of not eating more than what fits on your plate when attending work, friends or family gatherings. This strategy will come especially handy at events where they have catering, and you can have multiple rounds around the serving table.
When that's the case, check what is available first, decide which dishes you want to try and then fill your plate with an average amount of food. Once that's finished, maybe have one serving of dessert and focus on chatting to people instead.
#6. Lean Protein is a Good Choice
A great approach to eating around the holidays is to focus on eating your proteins first. Then you can eat the rest of the meal until you feel satisfied. If you have the choice, aim for lean cuts like seafood, chicken breast and other lean meat options.
First of all, it will help you feel fuller for longer and provide your body with essential amino acids crucial for tissue recovery and repair. It will also help you stay energised, so you don't feel like missing your workouts.
#7. Go Easy on the Booze
Holiday times are full of all sorts of celebratory drinks that don't only harm your cognitive health, energy levels and digestion but also pack quite many calories. Especially cocktails that may have a variety of creamy and sugary drinks added to them.
I am not suggesting that you go tee-total. I understand many people enjoy letting their hair down this time of the year, which is OK. However, it's worth assessing what your drinks would mean to your daily calorie intake and finding options that are not as heavy on energy. Rose and white wine, prosecco and slim G&T aren't too high in calories, while they may still give you the festival feeling.
In a nutshell, if you've worked hard most of the year to get rid of some excess body fat, you might want to tread lightly for the holidays so you don't end up undoing all that you have achieved so far. However, aiming to lose more during the next 4-6 weeks might be too ambitious, so finding the right balance to keep hold of your results while enjoying December might be your best chance at achieving more in 2022. Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss your goals for the next year!