It's upon us....
Silly season is here! That means more parties, more food, increased alcohol consumption and lots of celebration.
On average, we Aussies gain 0.8-1.5kg over the festive period. One to two kilograms might not sound like much but researchers have identified that weight gained over the silly season is rarely lost .
Fear not my friend, I'm on your side and I have your plan of action. In this article, I'll show you 10 tips that will actually help you avoid the silly season bulge.
Let The Celebrations Begin
To most, this is a fun time of year and I agree, I love Christmas. To others, well it's nothing new and for those who are on a health kick, the thought of partying coupled with food and alcohol may send a shiver down your spine. Just think of all those extra calories and temptations hindering your progress.
"One to two kilograms might not sound like much but researchers have identified that weight gained over the holiday period is rarely lost "
Okay so far it looks grim. But it really isn't. There's seriously no reason as to why you can't enjoy yourself, and still be healthy. I'll let you in on a secret most personal trainers won't tell you - we eat junk, we drink and we let our hair down. SHOCK HORROR! Na seriously, we do. What's the difference between the guys who seem to be fit all year round and those who struggle with weight gain over this period? Well, we practice balance, moderation and we don't change anything. The mindset over this period is still the same. What I mean is, training continues and life goes on.
"You shouldn't be worrying about what you eat between christmas and new year, you should be worrying about what you eat between new year and christmas" - Unknown
I can't remember where I read the above quote, but it's perfect. We worry too much about what we're eating over the festive period that we completely overlook the bigger picture.
Let Me Tell You A Quick Story...
This time in 2013, I was dieting for a bodybuilding show. From November to March, I was on a strict meal plan with very limited options food wise. That meant throughout Christmas and New Year, I was saying no to just about all my favourite foods and drink. Was it horrible at the time? Absolutely, but I had a goal and I was determined to not let a temporary time of year mess it up. So looking back now, do I regret it? No, because not only did it make me stronger mentally, but christmas will come around again, and again and so will many other opportunities to party and indulge in food.
Does that mean you need to be as strict as I was? No, definitely not, in fact I don't recommend it. The point is, it's certainly possible to remain lean over this period and if you follow these ten strategies I'm about to lay out for you, you're guaranteed to prevent any unwanted fat gain.
10 Tips That Will Actually Help You Avoid The Silly Season Bulge
Okay, I know you're thinking 'just cut to the chase Aidan, tell me how I can drink my wine and be healthy too'. Well, of course it's not as simple as that, but let me share with you my 10 tips that will actually help you avoid the silly season bulge.
#1 You Still Have A Goal – Why Change Your Mindset?
Look, this time of year is just like any other time of year. Yes okay there's more partying and socialising than normal, but why would you change what you normally did throughout the year? The only difference is this time of year has a fancy name – Christmas. Your mindset should remain the same as it's been all year. Use those extra calories to fuel a few extra workouts. Which leads us to tip number two.
#2 Keep Up The Exercise
Again, why stop what you're doing until this point? This is the most important time to keep up the exercise to burn off any excess. I believe one of the most common reasons why people put on weight over this period is because they stop exercising. Weight training will set you up for long term success so keep up the consistency. Keep exercise a high priority and you'll get through this period with no dramas at all. If you currently work with a personal trainer, try boosting up your sessions leading to Christmas to accelerate your results. No personal trainer? Make a regular schedule of meeting a friend for a walk or at the gym.
#3 Know When To Say No
Did you know, it's okay to say no? You're not hurting anyone. It's absolutely okay to have a couple of glasses of wine, but there's no reason to have excessive amounts of alcohol and food. This is when the weight creeps up and the bulge gets bigger. If you really can't say no for whatever reason, plan for it. Have a low carb day or low fat day to allow the extra calories or be the designated driver.
#4 Do I Really Have To Go To The Gym On Christmas Day?
NO! Far out enjoy the day with your family! Don't become one of these hardcore morons who claim they're tough by going to the gym on Christmas Day. There are many ways to exercise on the day. Go for a walk after lunch, play some backyard cricket, go to the beach, play some backyard soccer, go for a walk, play some backyard cricket – you get the idea.
#5 Be Prepared, Have a Plan
Cocktail party food is generally fatty and unsatisfying so eat something before you go – a salad, light meal, or even a protein shake. You won’t arrive starving and tempted to eat every nibbly in sight. Before you leave home, decide how many (if any) canapés you plan to eat. Then stick to that limit. You won’t feel deprived and you won’t have to face any guilt from unexpected excess calories the next day.
#6 Keep A 'Loose' Food Diary Over This Period
A 'loose' food diary is tracking the major food groups to give you a rough idea of your daily calorie intake. For example, instead of tracking every bit of food you eat, just track major sources of calories such as fats, carbs and alcohol. Or alternatively you could track just your minimum amount of protein and balance your carbohydrates and fats around that. I recommend using MyFitnessPal to do this. If you really don't trust yourself and love the accountability, keeping a food diary is perfect for you. It keeps you honest and when you can see everything you've eaten in the day, it helps you make educated choices moving forward. If you want something to use that's quicker than MyFitnessPal, download your free food tracker template below..
#7 Chew your food slowly
The more time you take to chew your food, the more time you give your body to digest and feel satisfied. This means less food is consumed and therefore, fewer calories on the love handles. Taking your time chewing also allows you to savour the flavours and enjoy each dish that has been prepared.
#8 Start the day right
Getting a healthy breakfast to start the day may help reduce cravings throughout the day. I personally enjoy a breakfast balanced in fat, protein and carbs. For example, oats, egg whites and chocolate protein powder all mixed together in a breakfast pudding. It fills me up and leaves me less likely to consume sugary foods later on. Your option doesn't end with breakfast though, try and get some exercise in first thing to get the endorphins flowing. Whatever you choose, start the day right and the rest will fall into place.
#9 Check The Menu First Before Going To A Restaurant
Know what you're having before you go, that way you're not stressing when you get there. You're planning ahead and factoring your meal into your daily intake. For example, if you're going somewhere and want a meal high in carbs, simply reduce your carbs in the day to 'spend' them on the evening meal. If you choose the best option available and play the balancing game, you can't fail.
I can't stress this enough (pun intended). Nobody likes a stress head. Plan ahead, do your shopping earlier and know what you're doing and where you're going. Relaxing helps you refocus and reflect on your goals. When you feel relaxed, you're more likely to have a kick arse session next time you're in the gym. Here's how we kickback in Australia at Christmas time...
At the end of the day, YOU are in complete control of your goals and the choices you make. If you have a bad meal or a bad day, move on. You cannot change what you did but you have complete control of your ACTIONS moving forward. If you can follow the tips laid out above, you will have no troubles staying healthy over the silly season. Come New Years Day, are you going to head into 2017 with your head held high knowing you're going to smash your health and fitness goals? Or will you wake up with a bulge wishing you had listened to Aidan? See you on the other side....
Aidan D'Arcy - Personal Trainer Frenchs Forest
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1 - Foodsense. Consumer Reports on Health: Dodge holiday weight gain without missing the merriment. Dec 2002.