Studies show the average person eats as upwards of 7,000 calories, or more, on Christmas day. This intake is more than three times your typical daily-recommended calorie total. The average Christmas dinner contains over 1500 calories. Fear not! Your holidays need not be full of weight gain, self-loathing and a fitness catastrophe.
If you have already started to freak out, Blanton Brown, Atlas Fitness’s nutrition guru wants you to, stop, take a breath and remember, “There are ways to enjoy yourself, take control of your life, your diet and your fitness to achieve your goals, even when temptation is everywhere.”
Here are Blanton’s principles and rules for keeping on track with your nutrition and fitness during the holidays, and beyond. Remember, food is not like alcohol or drugs; everybody has to eat every day. The overwhelming amount of choices and daily time pressures everyone has make it tough to consistently make good choices.
Lots of Blanton’s personal training clients start holiday workouts by asking, ‘How can I control my diet during the holidays?’ Many come up with outrageous and unreasonable solutions, anything and everything other than modifying their behavior.
Holiday food deprivation is not the answer. Food and drink are critical parts of holidays, family and social events, and traditional occasions. These events trigger warm nostalgic feelings, where without food, those feelings may disappear. (You will like this next part) So, don’t skip food and drink that brings you joy and satisfies those nostalgic feelings. But! Don’t go overboard.
It’s not fair to put yourself in a situation where you are just eating broccoli while everyone else is feasting during a holiday meal or any major food oriented event.
Instead, with your trainers at Atlas Fitness, come up with a workout program to do every morning and plan to eat some of your favorite foods, without going crazy.
There is no doubt that being with family and friends during the holidays can be both joyous and stressful. Blanton advises clients to create coping tools to deal with stress that don’t involve food. Remind yourself that you have goals and don’t use food as a coping mechanism for stress.
Blanton’s Holiday Food Strategy
1. Start your day with some kind of a cardio burn. Burn some calories. A holiday is the best day to work out. Why skip it? It’s not about the calories burned. It’s about starting the day with a positive behavior and developing positive behaviors. By starting your with a positive behavior you are more likely to have a positive day.
2. EVEN IF YOU ARE COOKING, START YOUR DAY WITH CARDIO! This may be the only part of your day that is all about you. Everybody has time for 30 minutes of cardio.
3. Watch your portions! Eat some of all the foods that you love. But just eat one serving of those foods. If you love sweet potatoes, have some. Blanton grew up eating sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Christmas is the only day each year she eats them.
4. Skimp on your second tier foods. Don’t eat very much of the food items that you just don’t care about very much.
5. Don’t count calories (during the holiday meal). It’s just not positive to count your calories. Better to enjoy your day and let it be an isolated event. If you are in a good nutrition and exercise routine, one day shouldn’t matter.
6. Don’t eat leftovers! Give them away! Feed the cat! Enjoy your day and that’s it!
7. No midnight eating! Blanton grew up with 4 brothers. They would come in drunk at midnight and eat everything. Don’t be her brothers!
8. Alcohol consumption – Alternate! Drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol you consume.
9. Don’t let the holidays derail your goals! It’s one day! Go back to your positive habits the next day and leave your day of eating as an isolated holiday event.
The holidays are more than just a single meal. If you know you are going to a party for dinner, make sure that your meals before the event are extremely healthy, lighter in calories, or are in line with your goals.
Don’t go to a party hungry! If you know you can’t control yourself when you get to the party eat beforehand so you go to the party full. “This works great for women; you don’t want to be full while wearing a tight dress,” she explained.
What about drinking? Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Blanton is not trying to encourage drinking, but notes that if you sip on a glass of wine, you are less likely to hit the buffet. And if you drink before you eat, you will keep drinking. As a figure competitor, Blanton always eats before she goes to a party.
Travel in Triumph
Blanton has plenty of clients who live healthy at home, but throw everything out the window when they travel. When traveling, take a walk with your family, find a community center, go sledding with the kids, get your ass whooped in Wii by some children. Play games that involve physical activity. For every commercial you see while watching TV, do 5 jumping jacks. Watch (and exercise) with fitness videos on demand from your cable TV company. Just move!