I often talk a lot about how consistency is the key! It really is the truth and is also not easy to achieve, especially around the holidays!
I am here to tell you now that we ALL need to start making a game plan for Christmas time… Yes I know it’s only November and maybe this Christmas won’t be as heavy on the parties and get togethers, but by god there will be treats!
No COVID can stop us from making cookies, drinking baileys, and cooking up some five star comfort foods! This might actually be one of the hardest Christmas’s yet BECAUSE we are lacking the social stuff and potentially making up for it with the comfort food can bring.
As far as making a game plan for our exercise and nutrition, not everyones plan will look the same. For instance I personally do not do well with calorie cycling as I feel too restricted on days where I shouldn’t be consuming as much. I am not an intermittent faster as psychologically again I can’t deal with the restrictive hours, I’m to stubborn (haha).
But these methodologies may work really well for some and that is great! So let’s find what works best for you and stick to that and stay consistent. I will outline here a few strategies to avoid excessively over eating during the holidays, decide which one best fits your lifestyle and your personality, and start implementing them whenever you start to get into the Christmas fun and yum!
Strategy 1: Intermittent Fasting: The idea of intermittent fasting is picking a window to eat and picking a window too fast. Times can vary some examples being a 12:12, 14:10, 16:8. There is no right or wrong time scheme and will depend again on your lifestyle, your personality and also when you feel the most hungry. VERY important to note that if you choose to intermittent fast make sure you are eating a sufficient amount of protein as fasting can cause a muscle wasting effect. Try to hit 1.2g of protein per kg of weight at minimum. Also continue to drink lots of water even when you are fasting.
Strategy 2: Calorie Cycle: If you are someone who tracks your caloric intake this will be a very doable strategy. Pick two days out of the week where you are going to take in more calories and revolve these around your social events. For example you have a Christmas party on Wednesday and a family get together on Sunday. You will plan to eat more on those days by bringing your total caloric intake up and spreading out the caloric deficit throughout the rest of the days. This can be done easily with the carbon diet coach app. If you don’t use an app then add up your total calories for the week (daily calories x7), decide on your high calorie days and how much you will consume and subtract those two days from the weekly total. Next divide the rest of your calories by 5. VERY important again to try and hit those protein goals everyday despite what other foods you are indulging in or enjoying.
Strategy 3: Carb Cycling: This is similar to calorie cycling except it is more focused on macros. Because holiday foods and parties seem to be really carb heavy, this can be a great strategy to balance out your macro nutrients with low carb days. Pick 2 or 3 days out of the week where you will do a lower carb day. Make sure these days are NOT the Christmas party or get together days. Often I’ve benefitted from these days being the day AFTER the party to get you back on track of healthy eating. On low carb days you simply keep your protein intake the same, you raise the amounts of fat you are going to intake (preferably unsaturated fat). Simultaneously you lower the amount of carb intake for the day. Try to keep the carbs you do have earlier in the day and stick to a strict low to no carb at night (or last meal of the day).
Strategy 4: Flexible Dieting: This will personally be my strategy this year. Again keep your daily protein intake the same, making sure it’s sufficient. At the beginning of each day PLAN your treats! I always follow an 80/20 rule of eating being 80% whole, nutrient dense foods with 20% treat foods. Around Christmas time I am going to lower my standards to 70/30. Each morning or the day before (whenever you do your meal planning) figure out what kind of deliciousness you are going to consume that day- christmas cookies, pie, hot chocolate and baileys, Christmas Mac and cheese (this is making me hungry lol). ALLOW yourself a treat everyday because it’s fricken Christmas time! Then work your meals around this treat. Plan to have a nice healthy breakfast with lots of fruit, have some veggies for lunch and supper, get those micronutrients in and also… get your protein in:) Then ENJOY those treats everyday and feel the Christmas spirit.
IF YOU SLIP UP, if you overindulge, if you go over your calories, if you under consume protein, FORGIVE YOURSELF! Move on because every morning is a chance to start over and try again. If you wallow in shame or guilt you are more likely to just throw your hands up and say SCREW my health. Your mental health is the biggest priority, your physical health comes in at a close second so don’t give up and find that balance.
As for exercise, now is a great time to make a Christmas exercise schedule or hire a personal trainer to make one for you! If you go hard now and really challenge yourself with your workouts this month you are going to feel a lot better going into the dangerous delicious Christmas season. Mentally you will be better equip to handle the temptations and fight through the binge remorse if it happens. Physically your body will better handle the extra calories and maybe even build a little muscle if you stay consistent with your protein:)
Hope this is encouraging for you all to plan now! It’s almost time to get your Christmas cheer on, it will come sooner than you realize:)