12 Ways To Stay Lean Over The Holidays
1. Train harder
If you are normally strict with your diet then you'll be craving the Christmas Holiday of indulgence all year. It might be a dent in your otherwise perfect diet but make it a positive one by using the extra energy in your workouts. Get aggressive in chasing after the gains, every single set, every single rep you better act like you want it. Incorporate drop sets, giant sets, pre-exhaust sets. Challenge yourself and you might actually get ahead over Christmas instead of going a little back.
2. Post workout cardio intervals
Before you get put off by the word 'cardio' during your time off, I am just talking about 10mins at the end of weight training. Get on the bike and do 6 intervals of 30 second sprints and 1 minute off. The extra metabolic hit will be just one more mechanism to keep you in check over the holidays.
3. Just eat the meat
This one is self explanatory. Christmas food holds a lot of indulgences, but the meaty elements are all good. Protein and Fat are actually in abundance at Christmas time (compared to Easter where there's just chocolate...), so instead of another helping of potato, have another hunk of bird.
4. Stick to spirits
We all love the Christmas beverages. Beer, mulled wine, eggnog, hot chocolate, desert wines etc. You must definitely have a few, it's Christmas after all. If you are the diligent kind, substitute a few with lower caloric options like white wine and gin and tonic. Most of your extra calories this Holiday will come from liquid, so keeping that fact in mind - you know what to do.
The best thing to do in literally any situation is to relax. Don't worry about things over Christmas, stress hormones are the worst things for fat gains. The holidays are about people, not perfect organisation and synchronised meal times and events. Chill out and be confident in your ability to burn off whatever tiny amount of fat you put on over the Holidays. There are 51 other weeks in the year when you can be as strict as you want, just not this week.
6. Use your feet
Start walking everywhere, even if it's cold. Think of the metabolic response in your body after a brisk walk to the store in the freezing cold for extra booze, ice or food. Your body uses fat as energy to keep warm, so force it to keep warm a little more. It's the perfect opportunity to take the whole family for a Holiday walk in the park. Take the dog, kids, girlfriend, boyfriend, cousins, grand parents or anyone who you are spending the holiday with. Disguise it as a sight seeing trip to see the park snow, build a snowman or visit friends down the road. Make it a daily thing. Get inventive, the more you do the better.
7, Chop some wood
This one really applies to everything and anything you can do to help out around the home to make it perfect for Christmas + New Year. Vacuuming, cleaning, washing up, chopping wood, clearing the snow, running to the store, clearing up, taking out the trash, fixing the lights, walking the dog, preparing the food, carrying relatives suitcases, making coffee/tea - literally anything you can do to move your body more, it all counts and it makes a difference. This way you can stay active and contribute to a stress free holiday!
8. Leave the popular TV until after Christmas + New Year
Many TV specials and shows are airing over the Christmas holidays, but don't contribute to the extra calories by becoming sedentary all week. Play some board games with everyone, take the lead and suggest activities you can all do so you can interact, laugh and have fun together. Go to the Christmas markets, go ice skating, build a snow man in the back yard. Take responsibility and urge people to do more than just watch the Christmas special.
9. Programmed indulgence
You have a diet plan correct? Do you just completely forget about 100% of it for the week or not? You can indulge in your diet but you can pretty much stick to most of your program. Protein will be easy to hit, fat also - carbs are always the killer but you can work them in by substituting all your carbs with Christmas carbs. You have carbs planned in a mid afternoon meal, but you also want a glass of wine or beer? No problem. Forget about the carb source in your meal and just have the beverage. This principle works with anything else too. It's not the way to live all year but it will help limit the damage over Christmas.
10. Change it up
There might be plenty of Turkey, Chicken and Duck around this Christmas but you'll want something else in between the massive festive platters. Try some different protein sources to challenge your digestive system, reduce inflammation and increase the thermogenic affect of digestion. If you eat a lot of meat and eggs, then eat fish and cottage cheese/yogurt, and maybe some soy or casein protein powder. This technique should be used often throughout the year too, for variation and to reduce inflammation during digestion.
11. Eat instinctively
This concept only works if your food choices are 100% natural and whole - it does not apply to including any form of junk food whatsoever in your diet. This is going to be a long experimentation process that you can take with you into the new year. Vince Gironda - the first bodybuilding guru, and guru to the greats like Arnold and Frank Zane etc. - would have his clients eat 4 times a day, with always the same approach, as much meat and eggs you can eat in one sitting, and that's it. Whether you can eat a mountain of food or you can only fit in a few bites, that would be it, meal over. It is a fine balance between giving your body only functional food sources and only as much as it wants in the time frame of a meal. You never have to force feed yourself if you only give your body what it needs. This approach saw all the best classical physiques embed themselves into the history books forever.
12. Re-assess your priorities
We've exhausted the additions we can make to exercise, and the changes we can apply to our diets, now we need to assess the most important part - our minds. Ultimately, things happen because of our mind-set. So let's make it work for us, instead of against. What are your priorities? No, really... be honest. Is it career? Family? Friends? Health? It's time for a re-ordering of the things you most want from 2019. Once you really know - only then can you build upon it without any obstacles at all. Is it your body? Time to get serious, meal preparation, scheduled training sessions, reduced alcohol, increased rest. All angles must be covered without exception. Does a business owner get ahead just by getting up early in the morning? No, they need a good business plan, dedicated partners, affordable overheads, a healthy attitude, a reliable source of product/service, perfect identification of their market and so on - and above all they need to execute all of this right on queue. Become successful through good methodology, don't rely on luck.
Happy New Year!