THE SILLY SEASON HAS ARRIVED!
It can feel like a huge challenge to stay on track over the festive period, and while it’s really important to allow yourself time to relax and enjoy yourself, you don’t need to completely undo all of your hard work either.
Here are some simple tips to help you survive the silly season and reach January feeling your best self!
ASSESS YOUR INTAKE
Is dieting over this time going to be realistic for you? This is a conversation that I have with all of my clients. There is no point setting yourself up for failure or to feel like you are missing out. Often, increasing your calories to maintenance can do wonders for compliance and your mental state as you will feel less restricted. Ask yourself if taking a less restrictive approach and accepting that you will just maintain your weight over this time is a better option for you.
Set yourself up for success by planning ahead as much as possible. When planning what to eat for the day, try to factor in your meal out first. If you aren’t sure what you will be eating then it is best to save a good amount of calories (600-800) or an amount of each macronutrient (for example – 30P/60C/30F). If you are wanting to go all out then there are a few strategies to help you have up some extra calories:
- Reduce your calorie intake earlier in the day by drinking protein shakes or eating small servings of lean protein with low calorie salads/vegetables. This will help to keep you feeling full and allow you to save more carbs and fat macros for the meal out.
- Utilise fasting for a period of the day. This can decrease the window of eating, allowing more calories to be saved.
- Add in an extra training session or some cardio on the day of, or day after your party/event. It is important however to not turn this into a habit as it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
If you have the option of choosing what you will eat, choose something that is easy to track. Break it down into a basic ingredients list or search for something similar using the MyFitnessPal database. Remember, it is always better to track something than to track nothing at all. Also, it is better to overestimate the serving size than to underestimate from a calorie perspective. This gets easier with time and the more experience you have measuring portions at home, you will become more accurate at estimating the portions when eating food you haven’t prepared and weighed.
REDUCE CALORIES WHERE POSSIBLE
Be conscious of the calories you are consuming, and find ways you can make your choice a little less calorie dense. Think about leaner protein sources, less calorie dense carbs, and reducing fat where possible. Another way to reduce the caloric total of your meal is to limit sauces and dressings.
SET AN ALCOHOL BUDGET
Drinking is often a big part of eating out and socialising with friends at this time of the year. A few alcoholic beverages can take out a large amount of your daily calories. Alcohol is classified as a carbohydrate and is 7 calories per gram, so be aware of this and how quickly they can add up. Try and set yourself a calorie budget for alcohol for the party/event, alternate your alcoholic drinks with water and drink slowly. Check out my article on alcohol for more helpful tips!
Depending on where you are in the world, this time of year is HOT. It is very easy to become dehydrated – especially if you’re drinking alcohol too! Thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger so make sure you are constantly sipping on water throughout the day, especially before and during Christmas parties! Making an effort to drink more water on days after you have eaten high carb or high sodium foods will also help to minimise fluid retention.
Try to keep up with your normal training routine as much a possible throughout the festive period. If you’re on holidays and don’t have access to a gym, then mix it up with some body weight circuits or cardio to get your heart rate up and help you burn some calories. Find some fun ways to move that also gets friends and family involved – like a game of basketball at the park or beach cricket!
If you’re mindful about what you eat and drink, there’s no reason why can’t enjoy yourself at parties/events and stay on track. Going over your calories occasionally or not tracking a few meals isn’t going to make you gain an excessive amount of weight. As with everything, moderation is the key and if you follow the 80/20 rule, you will be fine.
Life is too short to miss out on fun, festivities and memories with loved ones!
If you want to learn more about how to fit your diet around your lifestyle and reach your health and fitness goals while still eating all of your favourite foods – check out my Fit & Flexible E-Book!