You have all worked incredibly hard this year. I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I have been asked by my online clients through various mediums, what is the best thing to do over Christmas to avoid weight gain and increased body fat? This is a subject that is really making some of you nervous, as you have worked extremely hard to drop weight and stay on track!
I want to remind every single one of you, the reason you started a dieting and training phase was to look better, drop weight, improve health and increase confidence. One day (maybe 2 or 3) spent with family, friends and loved ones will not cause a significant impact on your goals, if you can apply implement some simple habits and techniques around your mentality, food, exercise and social occasions!
The first thing you need to recognise with your mentality going into a social occasion or Christmas day is, have you already told yourself you are going to have a blow out? Have you already given yourself permission to binge and pig out? Or have you in fact told yourself, you will be sensible with your approach and make decisions that your body and mind will thank you for over the coming weeks?
Secondly remember this is an acute period of the year! Stop thinking short term and think about what can be achieved in the space of 30 days! Is a few days of higher calorie intake going to negatively impact a month or 3 months structured eating, training and positive lifestyle choices?
Try not to weigh yourself after Christmas day, there will most likely be a negative impact on your weight or body composition if you have increased your calorie intake, there may be increased water retention from a lot more carbohydrates from food or alcohol! Is it worth getting yourself down in the dumps the day after Christmas or would you prefer to just enjoy the occasion and know that you can flick the switch and get back into the habits that have aided you in your progression to date!
I genuinely think a short diet break can have a profound effect mentally on your state of mind. It is unhealthy, in my opinion, to be so fixated on a way of life that an incredible opportunity to have some down time with people you love and care about, will stand in the way of you enjoying yourself. We only have one life! Although, I have provided some key points in the next section to help you make positive decision around food and drink!
Whilst I know what I have said around your mentality, will resonate with a lot of you, I know that some of you will be very keen to stay on track with your intake. Use this basic formula to work out your calories per day over the Christmas period!
Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve/ Day
Bodyweight x 15 = Calorie Intake
E.g. 180x15= 2700kcals
The Limbo Days (in between Christmas and the new year)
Bodyweight x 10= Calorie Intake
E.g. 180*10= 1800kcals
If you would like to monitor your calorie intake, then try this method to allow you more flexibility on the days you are likely to be with family, whilst giving you the time to bring your weight back down!
Centre your food intake around protein and fibre, this combination can be filling… Try to keep this as the basis of each meal you eat, rather than absent mindedly snacking and bingeing on easily accessible snacks! It is crazy to think just how accessible these foods are at this time of the year, and like most occasions which involve getting together, food, drink and happiness, Indian families go all out!!! No doubt you have already been invited to the annual get togethers!
Do not limit yourself from social occasions or opportunities to meet friends and family, because you are worried about putting on weight! If you are concerned about increasing in weight, then simply plan ahead! You know you will be going out having a few drinks or going to a restaurant… That is the basis of most get togethers! So limit food prior to the occasion, ensure the food you do have is filling (lots of protein and fibre) and enjoy your meal out, guilt free!
Portion size is the key to most of my clients progress! Most people massively overestimate what a portion is, they have no idea how much they are meant to be eating or why they are over eating, it is just a normal way of life for them! Here is a portion guide taken from my guide to losing your first 10lbs (download here) for you to use:
I have discussed portion sizes with clients at length. A conversation with an online client who lost just shy of 2kg (around 4lbs this week), centred on how he managed to eat 2 desserts, 1 completely off plan meal and a few drinks, and still make progress. The answer was simple, he has mastered portion size and he has empowered himself to ask for smaller portions and avoid bingeing once the taste of his favourite foods have passed his lips!
Alcohol is ever present at this time of year! You will most likely have a drink or two or ten! The key to avoiding increased weight or poor health from drinking is centred around limiting inflammation, recognising a reduction in inhibitions and knowing how to avoid or control the hangover! I have covered this at length in my guide to losing 10lbs with 5 steps, ensure you download this guide!
Increased food intake and excessive carbs are known to make people feel a little bit lethargic! My clients know to put a few supplements to use around their foods to ensure they digest foods well and increase energy!
Digestive enzymes, Reflex Nutrition Glutamine (use code AFJUGGY32 for 40% off) and apple cider vinegar will optimise your gut health to avoid digestive distress, which will most likely keep you house (or toilet) bound.
Caffeine! This is a simple aid that will give you a little boost in energy.
I love using Reflex Nutrition Alpha Lipoic Acid as a glucose disposal agent (increasing uptake of glucose from the blood), as well as Berberine to control blood sugar levels, at a time where a lot of sugar is consumed!
I always advocate physical activity, regardless of the occasion! I love to be active and I struggle when I just sit around and do nothing! In fact, I have created a guide specifically on how to incorporate physical activity into your routine in my free guide to losing 10lbs! Try these tips for being active:
Track how many steps you are taking each day using an app on your phone (S Health on Samsung or Health in the App Store on iPhone), on Christmas day or any other day you know you will be overeating, ensure you increase the steps you are taking!
If you are already training, then don’t stop just because it’s the festive period! Go to the gym, try to perform full body workouts especially if the days you are training is limited and increase the amount of times you hit each muscle group within your workout!
When training, I have seen a lot of people advocate lower rep ranges to utilise more carbohydrates, however, this would only be applicable if you are capable of performing exercises safely without causing injury! If you struggle structurally with exercises like squats, bench press or deadlifts, find similar alternative movements that allow you to retain stability throughout (consider reverse banded hack squats, smith machine presses or rack pulls).
Time your training where possible to coincide with your meal out or social activities! Train before you go out, to put you into a calorie deficit and increase your uptake of carbohydrates!
Use physical activity as damage control for the days you over do it! I like to implement a fast on the days after a heavy intake of food and before breaking my fast, have a 20-30 minute walk, this has the obvious effect of lowering calorie intake the next day, but also gives the gut time to assimilate the foods you have consumed!
Guys, you will encounter incredible support from some people that care about you and your happiness, at the same time you may face problems with people who just don’t get where you are coming from or why you are controlling yourself! This is normal!!! When you are getting healthier or leaner, there will always be someone in the room with a negative view on your journey. This is where people express and impose their ideologies on your choices without asking you what you are doing or why? This could be tradition or because they hold a particular food in high regard.
If you want to maintain a level of consistency with your plan and you are struggling to get people to accept your decision, you have to be honest and truthful as to what you are doing any why. Strong, confident replies make people back off will make people think twice about broaching the subject again.
Avoid discussing diets and food when the audience in the room clearly do not hold these areas of health in high regard. Instead, people will come to you and ask what you are doing (you will inspire people with your persistence and results).
Eat foods that help you achieve the results you intend to achieve. If you can afford a few off plan foods then go for it, but make a note of what you can or can’t eat depending on how they make you feel! If you prefer to eat before you go then do that! Make your own choices in life, there is nothing worse for your happiness than conforming to other people’s values!
You can also try to remove yourself from situations that compromise what you want to achieve and be around people that have similar goals to you!
The gift you receive are typically going to be chocolate or biscuits. Everytime I go to a family party I come back with a tub of Celebrations, Ferrero Roche or even a box barfi! I will put this out there now, most of the time, these gifts don’t enter the house, if the food you are trying to avoid is easily accessible, if your will power is down, you better believe they will be eaten! Control your environment, don’t bring them into the house! Re-gift them or give them away to those in need!