With Thanksgiving now officially over for the year, it's time to start gearing up for the Christmas holiday season.
Shopping, baking, events and parties - all are going to be taking up your time and add additional stress to your holiday season. Along with this stress can be a fair amount of emotional eating, or eating out of convenience sake, since you don't have twenty minutes to sit down and prepare a normal, healthy cooked meal.
In order to prevent unwanted weight gain this season, so you can have a New Year's resolution that doesn't involve going on an incredibly strict diet immediately, you should take preventative measures, keeping the situation under control at all times.
It's without a doubt that you will indulge at some point this Christmas - everyone does it; it's a part of the holidays. It's the frequency at which you allow yourself these indulgences and what you do the rest of the time that make the difference between keeping the fat away over the next four week period.
Time Your Workouts Properly
If you know you're in for a heavy meal, particularly one that's very carb dense (mash potatoes, stuffing, perogies, and so on), try and have a really hard workout prior to the meal.
Further, with this workout, try and work through the higher rep range with your lifts, so you'll deplete more of your muscle glycogen stores - muscle glycogen stores that then have to be replaced.
Then, when you eat this carb-rich, high calorie meal, rather than being stored as body fat, the carbs will actually work to your benefit, replenishing your muscle glycogen levels and helping you get better results from your workout.
When done this way, you can actually work towards building more muscle tissue with your holiday meal.
Eat Some Protein Beforehand
The next thing you should consider doing if you know you're going to a big meal is have a small protein snack beforehand. Good options here include a can of tuna, some scrambled egg whites and veggies, a small chicken breast, or half a cup of cottage cheese.
Protein is the macronutrient that tends to be most satisfying, blunting hunger signals, so it will work to your benefit when trying to keep the amount you eat at the party under control.
Bring Your Own Dish
If you're going to a meal that's hosted by close friends or family, offer to prepare your own dish to bring to the event.
Not only will this get you in their good books as you're helping them out, but it will also help put your mind at ease knowing there is at least one healthy thing you can fill your plate up with.
Watch The Drinks
Not only is the food bad enough at most holiday parties, but the drinks can really add up quickly. Egg Nog, the most popular traditional Christmas beverage, rakes in at 343 calories per 8 fluid ounces with 19 grams of fat and 34.4 grams of sugar. Definitely not something a sound diet can take more than a couple of times over the holidays.
Egg Nog is not the only drink to be aware of however, many of the fancier cocktails that individuals opt for can easily pack 200 or more calories per glass.
Do yourself a favor and plan to either treat yourself to something food-related or something drink-related. Not both. This will at least limit the amount of additional calories you are taking in at any given meal.
Do Damage Control The Day After
Finally, the last thing that will help keep your weight at a reasonable level this holiday season is doing damage control immediately after things get out of line.
Don't ever cut back on protein intake the next day however, as that is what is going to promote lean tissue maintenance, which virtually forms the base of your metabolic rate and helps keep the fat off the rest of the year.
If you eat 500 calories over your maintenance intake one day and eat 500 calories under your maintenance intake, things will balance out over time and no weight gain will be seen.
Obviously it won't always be this perfect - calories over versus calories under, but taking steps to get it close to where it should be is going to put you in a lot better of a position in the new year than if you simply opted to 'put the day behind you'.
Put the meal behind you - don't let it lead to a week-long binge or completely giving up on trying to remain healthy over the holiday season, but don't neglect to take action the next day to 'fix' the previous day's eating.
So, this Christmas season don't get overly frantic about going slightly off your usual diet plan, just be smart in the approach you take with your diet and workouts, being sure to make a little extra room when needed or making up for eating a bit more the next day when you go to the gym.
By tracking your intake over the month, rather than just dealing with it when the New Year's hits, you'll save yourself a great day of frustration in the long run and will feel better throughout the season as well.