THE RIGHT MINDSET TO APPROACH CHRISTMAS (or any other Holiday)
Here’s the truth:
You’re not going to be able to out-train this. You’re not going to get away with just doing some extra cardio.
Here’s the problem:
Every holiday is just a 24-hour window, and every calorie you eat in excess turns into adipose tissue. Since your body doesn’t resort to using calories from fat when you first walk in the gym, trying to out-train the Christmas day calories is useless.
Christmas and New Year’s are two holidays notorious for heavy eating and alcohol consumption. And whether you’re going overboard on food and you’re getting extra calories from that, or you like to enjoy an extra glass of wine at dinner, everything above your daily calorie threshold will be stored as fat.
Here’s the solution:
What you should be doing instead is finding smarter ways to approach your day.
Since you can’t out-train these extra calories and there’s no point in feeling guilty, what you should be trying to do is make good, informed decisions. If you make the conscious decision to take a rest day or enjoy a snack, you won’t walk out of it feeling puzzled, guilty, or ashamed.
The whole concept about feeling ashamed of eating too much has nothing to do with food. It has to do with you, and the labels you’re using and the way you’re viewing things.
It’s not that you “didn’t need to eat that extra piece of cake.” It’s that you could have stopped yourself from doing it, or at least approached it with mindfulness. It’s not about food, it’s about you.
Here’s what you should do:
Always go back to these three tips…
- Eat and chew your meals with thoughtfulness so you’re registering fullness and satiety.
- Sit down with a plate and think about the maximum number of calories you’re going to eat that day.
- Never eat past the point of feeling full – there’s simply no point.
(Eat mindfully. Eat with purpose. Stop when full.)
If you’re worried about going overboard with calories on a holiday, construct a plate that starts with protein, add plants, and finish off with the holiday treat you’d like to enjoy. Focus on the 80/20 principle and leave that 20 for the delicious holiday snacks.
If you’re going out with family or friends, plan accordingly. Always focus on having protein be the first thing on your plate, else you will walk around looking for carbs and fats to munch on for the rest of the day. If you want extra carbohydrates, you have to make sure they come from somewhere else – decrease your fats a bit.
And remember, don’t lie to yourself – be honest with your tracking and logging, and log everything. Even that one single little spoon of nut butter.
If you’re juggling multiple homes or your schedule is just chaotic, train first thing in the morning and then allocate your food toward your biggest food sitting for that day.
Start your day off with protein, healthy carbs, and fiber, and then allocate the rest of your calories to things you’d like to indulge in.
You can’t just be careful with food – be careful with your headspace. If you feel like you’re out of track on the holidays, this can derail you for weeks to come and create a yo-yo effect of feeling guilty and ashamed.
Just realize that indulgences will bring you back, there’s no outrunning them, and there’s no outworking them.
Just make informed decisions and weigh the odds mindfully so you can (1) not feel guilty later and (2) actually enjoy that decision.
Contrary to popular belief, you can approach your day in a way that suits you, your family, and your commitments.
If you’re willing to accept that you’ll plateau or maybe even gain weight for a week or two, your headspace will be clear and you’ll be free to enjoy the holiday moments and get back on track to your progress much more easily.
Question from Hillary: What’s the best way to allocate for your wine or alcohol on Christmas?
Take from fats. If you’re going to be drinking, go heavy on plants and protein and minimize your fat intake.
As a golden rule of thumb, if you have alcohol, you get no dessert. Otherwise, you’re creating a sugary mess inside your body.
Remember: Inhibitions go down with alcohol. While alcohol isn’t going to make you fat per se, the inhibitions and the struggle that the body goes through to process it will result in extra storing of calories. A lot of the time, you’re not going to regret drinking, but you’re going to regret getting lost in the moment and eating something just because you feel like you’re hungry for a moment.
Question from Alana: about activity on Christmas morning…
If you’re planning to go train, go train. But you don’t have to do it to offset your eating. If it’s in your program and you feel like ticking boxes is good for you, get up and do it.
If you’re just want to make the day a comfortable and relaxed holiday with family, do that.
What you shouldn’t be doing is saying “I have to go do it, I have to get ready, so I can earn my food.” Don’t get up and try to burn off. Don’t prepare for it or make up for it. Just make a mindful choice, then wake up the next morning as if you’re going straight back into your routine.
It’s okay to indulge – it’s NOT okay to shame yourself for it. Make an informed decision. Enjoy the day for what it was (because that’s why you made the choice.)
Then, after you go back to the gym, you can put to work that break into getting some bigger lifts or getting better recovery.
Question from Josh: For high-allergenic diets, is it okay to switch meals with protein, for example, to get your macros on the day in which the food options aren’t good enough?
You can find yourself in situations in which you can’t just have anything straight off of a table at an event or a function.
You can either (1) create a you-friendly portion of the table or (2) you’re in a situation where you can’t, take your own stuff. Take the essential things and bring them in large portions.
When you do have allergies, taking a friendly plate for yourself is seriously advisable. And even if you do happen to run into something that triggers inflammation, just remember you’ll be fine. And you do have a slight reaction to something, don’t panic. You’ll be okay in a few days.
The bottom line…
You’re going to have countless more birthday parties, Christmas parties, and events throughout your life. That’s why the most important thing is to get yourself in a head space where you feel comfortable and you don’t feel angst about your food choices. Instead, you’re making informed decisions, so you don’t have to feel bad about the consequences, and you’re always, always focusing on the 80/20 principle.
Have another question?
If you’re worried about something, just send me a message and say: here’s what the situation is, these are the parameters, this is what I see as my challenge, and this is the conversation I’m having with myself about it.
Send it to me, and I’ll be here to help.