[Nutrition] Holiday Struggle

This is a post for those who struggle with eating 'unhealthy' over the Holidays. I know some of you might struggle with this so much that it is detrimental to your Holiday enjoyment. I often hear friends, co-workers and clients talk about their diet struggles over the Holidays. Things usually go one of two ways:

  1. They'll be strict. Avoid any treats. They make it their goal to eat healthy through the holidays. When they eventually give in (even if it's a little treat) they chastise themselves.
  2. Others go BIG right out of the gate. December hits and it's a free for all. One treat in and they give up. Their mentality? "Well, it's already a shit show so there's no point in stopping now." 

Both of these lead to guilt. The guilt means that they'll then try to 'correct' the over-consumption of calories come the next day, next week or next year. 

Some of The Crap 'Corrections' You Might Try

  • Decreasing your calories. You might not even know how many calories you were eating before the Holidays, but if some health guru or health magazine says 1300 calories is the way to start you'll try it. This usually last a couples weeks into January and then you're freaking bored and hungry so screw that.
  • Cardio. Lots of cardio. Hours a week spent on a treadmill just watching the increase of the number of calories being burnt. That's the definition of boring. This likely won't last long.
  • Detoxes, pills and shakes. This again never lasts long and doesn't teach you healthy eating. Even if you achieve a few pounds weight loss it's likely not long before you gain the weight back.

My Suggestion?

I recently went to an out of town wedding. (Note: back when I was competing for bodybuilding shows an entire weekend of eating poorly would've seemed daunting -_-). I chose to not stress about it this time. I tried for 'healthier' options when able, but otherwise ate what was available. A lot of the trip was spent sitting in a car (+8 hour drive one way). When I returned from the trip I didn't dwell on the poor diet and I didn't go crazy on the treadmill. I also didn't  struggle mentally. I chose instead to focus on the NUTRIENTS that I provide my body and my PERFORMANCE in the gym and not worry about anything else. 

I simply returned to my routine.

Below are two pictures to show you how my body reacted to the 'off' eating and how it responded to my usual diet. I've also included the foods that I ate. 

Please note: This is NOT a weight loss comparison. I do not own a scale.

Picture taken December 11th @ 7 pm 

Picture taken December 11th @ 7 pm 

What do you notice? 

  • A 'softer' look
  • Distended abdomen

Food from December 9-11

Ate 2-3 meals/day

Most meals were random snacks: popcorn, soup, latte, jerky

  • 1-2 protein source(s)/day
  • Minimal water intake
  • Alcohol
  • Cupcakes + cake ;)
  • Wedding dinner
Picture taken December 12th @ 7 pm

Picture taken December 12th @ 7 pm

What do you notice? 

  • A 'leaner' appearance
  • No distension

Food for December 12th

  • Breakfast - coffee and pancakes (3 eggs + 1 banana + cinnamon)
  • Snack - Perfect Sports protein shake + apple
  • Lunch - chicken thighs + potatoes + mixed veggies
  • Snack - FAUXNOLA snack bar and salad (spinach + mushrooms + tomatoes + cucumber)
  • Supper - healthy 'nachos' (beef + black beans + cauliflower + bell peppers + avocado + salsa)
  • Water intake: >3L

How did I change to drastically in 24 hours??

I returned to my normal diet. 

I did NOT freak out. I did NOT submit myself to exercise punishment or caloric deprivation.

What does this tell you? 

When your everyday diet is healthy you don't need to stress out about 'slip-ups', 'cheat meals' or, as in my case, an entire weekend of random eats.  For those of you who might struggle mentally with post-Holiday weight gain - trust that the return to your routine will bring your body and its performance back to its norm. 

My Tips To 'Bounce Back' Throughout The Holidays

  1. Eat protein when it is available. 
  2. Drink lots of water.
  3. Try for the healthier option when its available.
  4. Eat a nutritious breakfast (avoid shopping with an empty stomach).
  5. Regular gym buff? Return to your routine. Don't add a bunch of workouts. Gym newbie? Start with 2-3 workouts a week. Any more than that and you'll likely quit. Somewhere in between? Try fun workout classes, workout with friends and aim for the same 2-3 workouts a week initially.
  6. Enjoy the treat and get over it. Christmas comes once a  year.

I hope that this helps some of you that I know are thinking about this or struggling with this. 

Feel free to give me your feedback/comments! 

Thank you for reading :)