It’s December,in the event you’ve been away from earth. Yes, the lauded and dreaded holiday season is here, which means that average person is about to pack on an extra 5, 7, 10 or 12 pounds—depending on which source you listen to.
Personally, I think it’s a bunch of over-hyped phooeee intended to drive hysteria in preparation for the annual “diet season” of January. And of course, the assault of holiday diet tips has begun—the sort of silliness like, “eat yams over mash potatoes, as their orange color is from a cartinoid pigment known to up regulate metabolism and reduce appetite.”
I made up that story about yams, so you can put down the yam recipes now. I did so to provide an example of the drivel that is invading your mental space this time of year.
My advice is simple: Stop reacting or over-reacting to it all. Relax and enjoy the season. Spend quality time with the people you love, and love the people you’re with. Don’t beat yourself up with fearful, contracted dieting advice.
And don’t be a damned fool either. How do you not be a fool? Well, here’s my personal, and unique list of The 5 Most Damaging Health & Fitness Mistakes People Will Make This Month.
5. No Snowballing
No, that’s not a hazing ritual at Santa’s workshop. It’s something I talked about in Strength for LIFE, all too common during Transformations and when people are in the holiday cheer. Picture a small ball of snow rolling down hill, gaining size and speed with each turn.
Snowballing is when a slip turn into a slide and you wind up stumbling about in a gravy induced haze, mouth full of buttered rolls. It’s the slice that becomes the whole pie and then a license to unleash the hounds.
At the root of snowballing is guilt and self-sabotage. We feel bad so we decide we just as well “Go Big.” We’ve all done it but you’re not going to do it this year, right? Because you know better.
Accept that you’re going to go big now and then. And leave it. learn from it. Feel the discomfort of overeating and remind yourself why you don’t. When you slip a little, know you’re allowed to. It’s not like you’re on a diet any way, right?
When you indulge, name it, feel it and move on. Done. No big thing. Next.
4. Never “Too Busy” to Train
Ho, ho, ho… this is the month of go, go, go!
You’re busier than ever. Stressed, running, moving, on the go, making up for lost time.
This is no time for working out. Right? Wrong! I hate to be one of the hard liners but fact is someone needs to bust your ass to make sure you are busting your ass this month.
You don’t have to be on a peaking phase or setting any bench press PR’s, but you damned well better be training with focus and intensity, regularly. If ever there was time that you need some attention, when your body needs some release, this is it.
The stress alone is enough to bring down a full grown grizzly bear. Respect yourself and your body—get in the gym, on the bike, crank out some P90. Whatever it takes. Work out the energy, the food, the stress.
This is no time to be off and you’re not getting off the hook. Train! Be the ONE this year who enters the year going strong.
3. No Skipping Meals
In my experience this is one of the most common mistakes people make during this time of year—in part because it’s tricky because it will seem logical. Skipping meals can seem like a masterful strategy when in you’re actually setting yourself up for major failure here.
The thinking is that since you know you’re going to over eat later, just as well skip breakfast and just snack around lunch. The result is you jumble up your system, stock pile cravings and justification, and get your blood sugar tanking. You’ve created a perfect storm for a nutritional train wreck, which hits you after you’ve eaten the ginger bread house only to realize it was Styrofoam.
The holidays are a time of tradition. Stick with that theme and follow your nutritional rituals. Eat well 80% of time. I encourage you to start your day, every day, with a sound, complete nutrition shake—for me and many others it’s Full Strength. It helps up regulate your metabolism, provides hours of high energy satiety, stabilizes your blood sugar all day long, and nourishes your body and mind.
And eat a sound, balanced lunch. Basically, stick to what you would most normally do. Hold the ritual. A well nourished body-mind is going to have loads more willpower and freedom when it comes time for the parties and such.
2. Why The Hot Toddy is Not
I’m not sure when booze got all mixed up in love and celebration but based on the strength of connection I imagine it dates back to the first distillation of alcohol.
‘Tis the season for cheer, and a drink and a drink and another… drink. Seems it’s every where we go. And you know what, that’s fine and dandy so long as we can keep our wits about us—and face it, some won’t.
I don’t want to nag or scare you, or suggest you should never have a glass of cabernet. Fact is, it’s not going to kill most of us. But a few too many can lead to some very disastrous consequences—ones that make obesity look like a picnic.
So, in the interest of encouraging sobriety I offer a few logical motivators: Alcohol is one of the worst things you can consume when it comes to fat loss. Unlike carbs which are 4 calories per gram, alcohol is 7 calories—nearer to fat which is 9. And alcohol doesn’t have to be digested. Unlike most foods, it passes straight through the stomach into the blood, causing a steep and rapid rise in blood sugar and an equally aggressive insulin response. The result is turbo-charged fat-storage.
The simple-truth is that drinking is bad, bad, bad for your body, your mind and it packs on fat. Sure, a drink now and then is fine and dandy but I really encourage you to be incredibly mindful this holiday season. This is the time of year when there are more accidents, more domestic issues, more stress, more legal issues are created in this one month than any other.
Please, don’t be a statistic. Drink wisely and eat in abundance if you think you might be prone to have a few. Eating more will lessen the effect of alcohol and likely slow the desire to drink.
Here’s to your safe and sober holiday season. And remember, nothing good happens after three drinks. Never has, never will.
1. Skip “The Mistletoe Diet”
Have you heard of the Mistletoe—kiss your fat goodbye—Diet?
No? That’s because I just made it up. Ah… but it does sound like something you’d hear about on the radio, right?
There is a diet for every season, and every reason but while I’m no fan of diets for the other 11 months of the year, I’m even less so in December.
Dieting in December is like dragging your feet, Fred Flintstone style, to stop a top fuel dragster. It’s not gonna work but it is gonna leave a mark. Instead of setting yourself up for an emotional tug-of-war with food, follow the other four tips in this list, hold your rituals in regard, eat well, drink light, train regularly, don’t let a slip turn into a slide and enjoy a healthy, happy holiday season.
Wishing You and Yours Family All The Best of Life,
Start 2012 Strong