Is staying lean this holiday season at the top of your Christmas wish list? If you'd rather not look like a schlubby, post-cookie-binge Santa, you'll want to put the following holiday fitness tips into action.
It takes a good dose of motivation, determination, and persistence to get through the next few months without overindulging, especially if many of the people close to you aren't leading the same lifestyle. While everyone else is slamming back eggnog and chocolates, you're more focused on egg whites and chicken. At times, you might feel like you're going through the battle alone.
Well, you're not. Use these strategies to stay on track. Come New Year's, you'll be thanking yourself.
Prioritize Your Time
Since it's the season of giving and socializing, you'll have event invites coming at you from all directions. Stop feeling bad about saying no. "You can start to feel guilty if you don't RSVP "yes" to all the invites, but at what cost?" asks fitness pro Jen Jewell.
Jen stresses the importance of carving out some "you" time as well. If you're constantly doing things to please others, you'll put your needs on the back burner. Training is usually the first thing to fall to the wayside.
It's understandable that something's got to give, but when your plate starts to fill up, make modifications instead of cutting things out completely. "If you can't manage to sneak away for your normal workouts, at least aim to do 30 minutes of activity first thing in the morning," Jen recommends. "That way, if the day gets hectic, at least you know you've already done something positive for yourself."
Ideally, carve out enough time to hit the gym 3-5 days a week to maintain your fitness and overall mental health.
Pick Your Indulgences Wisely
This holiday season, don't feel like you'll get coal in your stocking unless you avoid every trace of fat or added sugar. Doing so might only backfire on you, leading to a full-on binge of anything in sight.
Permission granted to indulge wisely and in moderation. Jen tells her clients to ask themselves one simple question: Is the goodie in question one you can eat year-round, or is it a seasonal special? There's no point blowing your diet on a cookie that comes from a box purchased from the supermarket. You can throw those in your cart at any time. But your grandma's top secret cookie recipe that only comes out once a year? That's worth the indulgence.
Assess Your Goals Regularly
Another important thing to do this holiday season is to keep current with your goals. "Check in with yourself often and ask why it is that you want to reach these particular goals," recommends WBFF Pro bodybuilder Calum Von Moger. "What are you trying to achieve and how badly do you want it? Reminding yourself of what you're striving for will help keep your mind focused on the end result," he explains.
Try writing a list of your goals for the holiday season and hanging it in a spot that you can reference daily. Doing so will help you keep striving onward.
You've already heard about how beneficial having a workout buddy can be, but having that extra support is especially crucial during the holidays.
"Find someone with similar goals, and work together to accomplish them," recommends Calum. "This will motivate you to stay on track. You'll be able to lean on each other for support, which will help you both stay focused."
People are often thrown off their diet and workout schedule when they feel like an outsider. While everyone else is off partying, they're left counting macros and tracking workouts. If you have that workout buddy, you won't feel alone any longer.
Get Wise With Your Macros
Another way to indulge in seasonal goodies is to calculate them into your daily macros. Instead of depriving yourself, follow the IIFYM plan, meaning, if it fits your macros, go for it. "The holidays are filled with amazing foods like cookies, pies, and pastries, so instead of turning down these foods and waiting for your cheat day to eat 75 servings in one sitting, fit them into your daily allowance," recommends Cellucor athlete Karina Baymiller.
The more restricted you feel during the holidays, the more problematic your cravings can be. "Eating the foods you love during the holiday season is easy when you actually allow yourself to eat them in moderation," Karina adds. Bye-bye deprivation.
Schedule Training Wisely
In addition to being smart with how you indulge, you should also be smart with when you train. Workout timing is important to be aware of, especially when you factor in big holiday meals. Put that turkey and stuffing to good use. Time your meals so you can use them as fuel or to replenish nutrients.
"I like getting a solid training session in before or after my feast to put the extra carbs and fats to good use," Karina explains. Using this logic might also remove some of the psychological guilt associated with indulging. Remember, food equals fuel and power.
If you slip, remember to maintain perspective. "Keep consistency in mind over perfection," Karina stresses. "If you eat a little too much stuffing or have an extra cinnamon roll on Christmas morning, oh well. A few days of letting your guard down and enjoying time with friends and family is what we call life."
Prep And Plan Ahead
Nutrition is the foundation of fitness. The holidays might mean baking treats and whipping up sauces, but that doesn't mean you should stop cooking. Use the weekend to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time as you normally would.
"If you get lazy on your meal prep, you are surely going to fall off your diet," says Cellucor athlete and strongman competitor Colton Leonard. "If you know you are going to be in the car traveling for a long time, for instance, pack healthy snacks."
The hustle and bustle of the holidays might make planning more difficult, but just know that it's not an optional task if you want to succeed in staying on track. With cookies, cake, and decadent dishes everywhere, temptation is likely to lead you astray now more than ever.
Avoid holiday diet "don'ts" by coming up with a sound meal and workout plan in advance. "Regardless of the goal and the direction you are trying to take with your physique, you have to have a plan and be devoted to following it," says Colton. List out your menu for each day of the week on Sunday, and then do your best to follow through. Treat your workouts in a similar manner.
Start Your Plan Early
Along with getting a plan in place, one quick tip that IFBB Pro Physique competitor Craig Capurso of Cellucor recommends is starting your plan early. By doing this, you'll allow yourself time to get into the groove so you won't have to deal with an "adjustment period" once the holidays roll around. This way you don't risk looking like the Grinch around family and friends.
Think about how you want to tackle the holidays. "Decide if you'd like to diet or ramp up your calorie burn before going into the feast," says Craig. "Maybe try a little bit of both." By creating a slight deficit leading into the holiday week, you'll allow yourself a bit of a cushion. That way, if you do indulge, it won't impact you as much, and you'll likely break even.