Now that we are right in the middle of the holiday season, it’s no surprise that most people are going to eat more and exercise less. This is the time of year that we all like to enjoy the great food and drinks at social gatherings and everyone is extra busy with shopping, traveling, etc. It’s all good, but one down side to all this fun is the well -known holiday weight gain. I recently read a study that stated the average American will gain about 5 lbs. between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Now that doesn’t sound like much, but the study also found that most adults never completely shed that excess weight and people who are already overweight, tended to gain more and lose less afterward. So it would make sense to try avoiding the increase in the first place, rather than trying to work it off later.
One of things I pride myself on in my book Corps Strength, is that when it comes to diet and exercise I stay away bullshit; I.E. scientific double talk, complicated routines and weird diets that no normal person can stick too. I only go with I know works from own experience, and what I seen with my own eyes, on those I train. Keeping in shape around the holidays is no exception. Having said that, it’s not impossible to fully enjoy the holidays and keep your weight in check. I do it every year, and I’ve never been known to miss a dessert or adult beverage.
First off, keep in mind that every day between Thanksgiving and Jan 1st isn’t a holiday. The fact is there are only a couple of actual “holidays” during this time frame. I know they’re at least a few parties in there also, but come on man, not every day and night. So get a grip Bad Santa, you don’t have a built in excuse to stuff yourself like a North Carolina deer tick, and skip PT for over a month. For the most part, you should stick to your normal routine.
For the days of a big get together I have a simple routine that I have followed for many years with good success. The first thing I do is get up early and go for a run. Whenever possible I like to do this in a local Turkey Trot, Santa’s Run, New Year’s 10k, etc. Every place I’ve ever been stationed has had one of these runs and you can take you family too. Even if you participate just by walking, it’s the best way to get yourself moving. In place of running I have also gone hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, skiing, hunting, etc. The point is to get some cardio (calorie burning) type of activity in to start your day. After which I have a light breakfast (skip the Breakfast Buffet) and I also eat very little the rest of the day. I’ve heard other recommendations that you should eat something just before a holiday dinner so you will start off kind of full and not eat as much. In theory that sounds good, but the fact is it never stopped me from eating like an escaped hostage at these things, and I doubt it really works well for anyone else either.
My plan is to go in hungry, but to just eat a little bit of everything, and I mean everything. Now at the type of dinners that my family has, this usually means dozens of different items. So I just will have a small portion of each, but in the end this will add up to a huge plate full. I find that I will eat less and be satisfied quicker if I go with the most variety. I also try to eat slower than normal, and enjoy the debates, gossip and other BS that you usually have at these things. I always stop at one helping and will save dessert for later when I will enjoy it more when I’m not so full.
Right after dinner grab someone, and go for a walk. This is the best way to settle your food. Doesn’t mean I don’t watch football, but at some point after the I will get a walk in.
As far as drinks go, try to go easy on the alcohol. 2-3 drinks of your choice, at the most. I go with 1 before and 1 after dinner. Now before you say it, as a career Marine trust me when I tell you that in the past I have drank much more than that at holiday events. Sometimes way too much. However time has granted me some hard learned wisdom on this subject, and I’ve found its better NOT to drink too much at these gatherings, for a variety of reasons, weight gain being the least of your worries in that respect.
The bottom line is; enjoy your time off and especially the time you get to spend with your friends and family. Just keep in mind that you don’t have out-eat and out-drink everyone to have a good time. You’ll thank yourself when you step on the scale Jan 2.
From my family to yours have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.