The Holidays: How To Say NO But Also Enjoy Yourself
The Holidays on a Diet
Before I go on what might seem like a rant about the Holidays and dieting, I’ll be clear up front that you can have the foods you like on a Holiday even on whatever diet you are on. It just comes with a catch unlike the times you were not on a diet. You start out the new year with a fresh diet, it works for you, you have lost consistent weight, you are consistently getting stronger with your workouts and you have success, but now, it has come. The one time of the year that everyone slows down, I always see it as the one time of the year on where you have the opportunity to define your success! They say everyone gains all the weight back during the Holidays and in fact, it can be true. But why? You work so hard during the year just to gain some of it back. Doesn’t it seem like a drag? Isn’t there something you can do to make the Holidays enjoyable and still maintain your results? Of course you can!
Here’s how. You need to be completely true to yourself. You need to be ready to test yourself and push that discipline that you have already started to have in place. Be consistent with your time in the gym or wherever you workout. Your key workouts will also be defined as well in this time. You need to ignore the noise, but also enjoy yourself, just do not push it too far where you may gain a few pounds. You will need to push yourself and be ready for anything, even if it is to avoid going nuts on your favorite dish.
Enjoy Yourself, but Don’t go Nuts!
The heading kind of explains itself as well as what I was just telling you, but let me go into a little more detail on that. YES, you can enjoy your favorite dish, you can even have seconds. But the one thing that kills us is that we go to nuts on what we eat and that is where it costs weight gain. When does this happen? It happens right when you eat over 3,600+ calories in one day on that Holiday, it also happens when we take leftovers home and smash on it and eat over your target calorie goal per day if you have one. Sometimes when we enjoy ourselves as much, we forget about the diet and throw it out the window for the next few days because it is the Holidays. Lets assume you are on a 2,000 caloric intake cut in a 12 week phase where you have one refeed / cheat day per week to keep your metabolism at its peak. You eat 3,600 on Thanksgiving (which is fine, but it’s 1,000 more than your refeed) and then 2,800 for the remainder of the week, that is you going nuts.
Being disciplined is key, you can enjoy that one day and even go beyond the scope of a refeed and even have two refeeds if you want. Enjoy your foods, moderate your calories. Enjoy yourself on the Holiday, eat that 3,600 calories / refeed calories. Likely if you are on a consistent diet and training regiment, you will rebound quickly as long as you go back down to your calories and remain consistent. You can even do your refeed. You will gain a couple and minimal weight, but also enjoy yourself. Track your calories, ask questions on what was in the ingredients, but don’t stress too much details, most of it is in apps like MyFitnessPal etc. Moderate your first and second plate or third if it fits.
Being in a IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diet benefits to a certain extent and it is also enjoyable. I did that for a year and a half and lost 63 pounds and got decent results. You can enjoy that turkey as your protein, the supplementary side dishes that are filled as carbs & fats and whatnot as long as it fits those macro nutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) in your daily caloric allowance. I did IF (Intermittent Fasting) to moderate the meals and it was surprisingly enjoyable. So in that extent, you can actually enjoy the meal on the day and the left overs on off days if this is your diet. I would definitely check out a few diets online that utilizes it.
Being in a stricter and more structured diet may make it a little more difficult. This is my current situation and with my personal trainer helping me, he told me go nuts, but have common sense. Don’t eat an entire pie by yourself or five plates. Be respectful to your body, have that common sense. I actually have literal meals in my day that are written in paper for now. Now I think with my current situation I feel a bit more disciplined and I rarely have the craving or even think about cheating on the diet. I am going to fast that day to the meal and even have a refeed this Saturday with some leftovers. I already know that I might gain one literal pound or two, but I know I will rebound because of my consistency. Keep in mind, that if you are too strict on yourself, you may actually find out that you might gain weight faster because you might be eating way too less than what you should be eating.
At the end of the day, you can enjoy yourself. Just be realistic, have common sense and respect your body like I have said before and I am certain you will make it through the holidays with gaining minimal weight or even not gaining weight at all, you may even lose weight if you are completely true to yourself, it just might not be as moderate as the other months in the year you are dieting. Treat this and next month as special months, but also like any other month and it will go over your head and thoughts better than you think.
Consistency is Key
If you have been consistent in your diet and your training regiment, you should be fine for the most part. If anything, you will gain a pound or two for a couple days, but will quickly rebound. If you are consistently in the gym on the days you go, you should be fine. That does not rule out excess weight gain if you eat way too much, but you will be fine if you gain a pound of fat, it’ll go away quicker than you think. Now if you gain five pounds of fat, you might have eaten way too much, but again, if you are consistently going to the gym and doing the right things, you will be back in track much faster than those who are inconsistent with their diet and training regiment or even those who let the Holidays stop them from exercising for a week or two.
Continue what you are doing and remain true to yourself about your diet. Know your expectations and keep your end goal in mind. If you focus on reality and truth, you will go places. Motivate yourself and you will make it happen. In these months you may even have to wake up earlier if you fast to make it to your family’s meal. But keep going to the gym and make it happen, get your gains and continue progress. Be happy and present as it is going to motivate somebody else to better themselves in the next year.
So you gain a pound, just another small roadblock, it will go away in no time. Be confident in yourself and you will make it happen!
Ignore the Noise and be a Role Model
We all have that aunt, uncle or parent or sibling that will rile you up about your diet and think you are not enjoying yourself. These are the types of people that will either be all about your diet or think you are completely doing it wrong. If you are dealing with someone who thinks you should not be so strict, you need to look at their current situation and either see where they are coming from or the reason why they might be at a bad situation with their bodies. Live your truth and know the truth and be respectful, but defend yourself. Treat it like the guy with drugs peer pressuring you, be respectful and tell them no. For the ones who think they know what they are talking about, your results even if its a one month difference should say enough to make that noise go away. Some might think you are eating too much.
Here are some examples in what I think are toxic mindsets coming from somebody:
Someone who Peer Pressures to eat too much
- “Oh come on, you can cheat today its the Holiday”
- “Live a little have this extra piece, I made it just for you”
- “Why are you not enjoying yourself, the diet can come later, live in the now, you are with your family, is that not enough”
- “That is so stupid, why are you even doing this, you look fine now.”
Someone who thinks you are eating too much
- “Aren’t you on a diet? You should be more careful”
- “Geez, that is a LOT of food”
- “If you are going to lose some weight, you need to stop eating this and go straight to the veggies”
Let’s face it, there is always going to be someone who is going to be a jerk or petty betty during the Holidays. Do not let them get to you, know that if you are getting results, this should not matter to you at all, especially if they are over-weight and have health problems. Truth is, they may think they are trying to help you because they care, but they do not know that it maybe hurtful to you or you may see it as ignorance. Ignore that noise, be true to your diet as long it is working and if it isnt at least you are trying to make something right happen. If someone is fit in your family, I think that would be the appropriate time to listen or ask questions, but don’t listen to cousin Karen who is 55 and weighs 255lbs. Appreciate their concern, but do not let it make you comeback with any sly comment. Be respectful to this person.
If you have results, do what I said earlier, enjoy your meal and you are going to get questions. Provide your answers with some parts of your diet and training regiment that will give you a better rebound and your consistency and they will likely look up to you and want to do what you are doing. Let’s face it, most people want to look better in the long run so they might listen to someone who is either lean or in great shape. Be a role model and the family might even see that you are enjoying your diet and actually are enjoying the day. If the person is just being petty, your results should shy their comments away.
Some More Advice
Drink lots of water! You are likely going to be consuming a lot of sodium so make sure you at least get a gallon or a gallon and a half of water in every day so that you can maintain and ensure excess water weight gain. As I have said earlier, you may gain a pound of fat, but you may gain five of water. This excess weight gain might make some people give up, just know if you gain excess and it is not fat and you feel bloated, it is because of your water weight gain. Try to drink as much water as you can or hit the least of a gallon per day and you should be fine!
Cardio! Not steady pace because if you do not know me already I am completely against that style of training where you run for an hour because that will do nothing but make you hungrier and work way too much on your muscles that you are already hitting too hard in the gym. But walk for an hour every day, do HIIT (High Intense Interval Training) on your off days and you should be fine.
Get enough sleep! Make sure you are sleeping at least 7 hours per day so your muscles can recoop after workouts and even with this extra food that is about to go into our bodies at this time!
Be present and consistent. Like I have said earlier, if you are consistent with your training regiment and getting stronger every week on your key lifts, you will be just fine and will rebound quick enough once the holidays are over. If you have gained excess weight and cannot come back, it is because you are on way too of an aggressive diet and training regiment or you have not been consistent.
The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time to be with your family, not a dreading one. So go enjoy yourself, but be respectful to your body and have some common sense!