The holidays is a time of indulgence, there is a way you can have fun and not completely derail from your fitness goals.
01 Nov 2021
Around every holiday season, one question we get asked on a daily basis is:
‘How do I stay lean over the festive season?’
For the majority of you, our answer is pretty simple:
Enjoy the celebrations, don’t stress, and DON’T feel guilty about it at all.
The reality is that if you work hard all year, one week won’t derail your physique. Remember, it’s only 5-10 meals ‘off plan’ compared to the 1500-2000 meals you’re typically having during the year.
You’ll be fine! In fact, if you truly enjoy it guilt-free, and focus on the meals as times to connect with friends and family, we wouldn’t be surprised if your body composition stays the same, or even improves.
So many of you are so restrictive and stressed out about food throughout the year that when you’re finally able to relax, and leave your Tupperware at home, good things happen.
The only time we’re more specific with our advice, and tell people to keep an eye on what they’re eating and drinking is in two situations:
1. You have a photoshoot, a big deadline or a physique competition soon after
If you’ve got a big deadline straight after the celebrations, you’ll need to plan a little more carefully. Depending on when it is, you should be able to structure a few meals here and there that are sensibly controlled. For the most part though, it’ll need to be kept closely monitored.
2. You’ve been eating terribly and sitting on the sofa all year, and have only just started your transformation to improve your health and body composition
If you’re new to your health and fitness journey, the last thing you want to do is completely derail yourself by going off plan. You’re still in the habit formation stage, and so endeavouring to be as sensible as possible is wise. Of course, meals can be built into the plan, but the aim is to exert portion control, be mindful of what you’re doing, and not fall back into old habits. Again, the key is not to stress!
For the rest of you, here are three great tips to keep you lean, healthy and happy over Christmas:
Keep Training Hard & Stay Active
While it can often get busy during the festive season with family events, socials and parties, it’s a good idea to keep your training up throughout.
Even if you’re short on time, a quick 30-minute blitz workout is better than nothing. The key is to get something done – whether it’s a weights workout, a HIIT session or even a short bodyweight circuit at home.
You will keep your activity habits going, get a big endorphin kick and most importantly, put yourself in a better headspace which will ultimately lead to better choices on the nutrition side of things.
Another good tip is to remain active. Don’t become a sofa sloth just because it’s the holidays. Stay active, go for walks and maybe try to maintain a step average of at least 8-10K a day.
If you’re with family and friends, now’s the perfect time to take everyone with you for a nice, long walk to help digest the feast you’ve all just tucked into!
Create Sensible Buffers
Over the week of celebrations you’ll probably have a few parties and events to attend at work and with friends and family.
It’s important we learn to navigate these situations by being sensible with our decisions. If you are currently investing or even midway through The Process Phase, simply eat like you normally would on these days and replace your largest meal with the main meal for the day. There is no need to stuff yourself or go overboard. Remember, these events are about spending time with loved ones so keep your focus on being an entertaining, sociable guest!
If you are approaching a checkpoint in the coming weeks and where everything matters, then implementing some buffering (outlined below) may be useful.
A simple strategy to implement during this time is to create ‘buffers’ in the week, where you intentionally lower calories from fats and carbs.
For example, let’s say you have a party on the Friday, here’s how you might set up the end of your week:
Wednesday – Normal eating
Thursday – Lower carbs & fats
Friday – Lower carbs & fats during the day, ENJOY at night!
Saturday – Lower carbs & fats
Sunday – Normal eating
When creating these buffers, the key is to NOT skip meals. The last thing you want to do is turn up to an event famished, stressed and ready to gorge.
Keep your protein and veggies up during the day. This way you’ll have created your ‘buffer’ but without the crazy hunger, which will only set you up for disaster and take away from the actual social experience.
On the contrary, there will be some who feel great by fasting all the way up to a big meal, so it will be a case of finding what works for you and your individual lifestyle.
You’ll probably be drinking a fair bit more alcohol at all these occasions. And that’s completely fine! Just make sure you’re keeping on top of your hydration.
We know it sounds like a boring tip, but it’ll help prevent hangovers, keep a check on any hangover cravings and make you feel a lot better overall.
Enjoy & Experience It All
While we could write a whole thesis on how to stay lean across the buzz of socal activity, the reality is, it doesn’t matter and isn’t practical.
The real key to coming out of the holidays is to be healthier and happier and not make it all about the food. Yes, the food is great, but it should be seen as more of a bonus rather than the star of the show.
Instead, make your focus become about spending as much quality time with your family and friends as possible. We guarantee that if you take this approach, you’ll automatically eat more ‘normally’, as opposed to creating a binge fest that the festive season has often become synonymous with.
So when you’re tucking into a range of delectable treats, enjoy it, savour every bite, and DON’T stress or feel guilty about it. You can get back on your plan next week!