Just because it’s “a thing” doesn’t mean we have to submit to the typical winter hibernation… When the weather turns colder, the days retreat shorter, and the average person tends to pack on 5-7 pounds during the winter months (John’s Hopkins). Well, here at MikedUp Blog, we’re doing everything we can to avoid holiday weight gain.
As my 3 year old says, “No. No…” (she also waves her finger while saying this). No extra pounds are welcome on this guy. And they shouldn’t be welcome on you either.
Let me issue you a challenge right here and now
I’m not gaining a single pound this holiday season. In fact, I vow to lose those 5-7 pounds. Are you game for doing the same?
If so, here is our game plan to avoid holiday weight gain
1- We’re going to make healthy holiday choices
Last year we were fortunate to have our resident clinical research nurse (Mel) on the blog to discuss all the ins and outs of making healthy holiday choices. Click over to the post for the full details but here is a quick summary:
Mel does a deep dive on asking you about your history with holiday eating and the choices you’ve made in the past. From there she helps us better shape the mindset we have and the decisions we make in the future. It’s chock full of phenomenal advice that Mel puts to work every day with the patients she sees.
We need to make sure that our mindsets are calibrated appropriately, then we need to come up with a realistic and effective plan, then we need to stick to it.
I don’t care if your plan is no doughnuts, 1 doughnut per week, or something completely different – but damnit, we’re going to be intentional with our eating.
2- We’re not going to go with a “cheat quarter”
You’ve probably heard of a “cheat day” at some point in your life. Well, the concept is that after days, weeks, or months of hard work dieting and exercising – you grant yourself 1 cheat day. And on this day you can eat just like the lady with the ice cream above… But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Cheat days need to be earned. Diets don’t start with cheat days, and frankly – if you have yourself on an appropriate health and nutrition plan, you may come to find that your cheat day isn’t as rewarding as it may seem.
When I was on my quest to lose 65 pounds and keep them off – I didn’t want anything to do with ice cream, condiments, or anything that stood between me and the goal I had set for myself. After a cheat day early on in that process, I felt lethargic and unhealthy – then I thought to myself, “Why take a step backward if it’s not completely necessary?”
Well, when it comes to our plan to keep the weight in check during the holidays, we ain’t takin’ no cheat quarter (you know, a cheat day that extends for 3 months…). If cheat days are something that you are allowing yourself, make sure they are A) earned and B) spaced out appropriately.
Then, go get you some mint chocolate chip – and don’t feel guilty about it.
3- We’re going to thrive with the variable schedule
One reason I hear over and over again about “Why I didn’t stick to my nutrition plan over the holidays” is due to the variable schedule we all have. We’re creatures of habit and routine – us humans, but guess what… The holidays come around and throw our routine into a wood chipper.
So (are you sitting down – this may sting…), now we don’t get to use “variable schedule and lack of routine” as an excuse. It’s like not budgeting for Christmas gifts in the first place… Did we not expect Christmas to pop up on December 25 this year? We did – and we should plan accordingly.
Same is true for your holiday travel plans.
What I do:
First off, I have a vow with myself – that my family and now many of my readers know about… I absolutely and under no circumstances will take a Monday off from working out. Doesn’t happen.
Subpoint here is that I have a spouse that understands my drive and commitment to exercise. As with anything in relationships – communication is key.
I’ll take out a calendar in October (right about now) and start looking at our travel plans for the holidays, then plan my workout calendar accordingly… (Tougher to do weights here, cardio isn’t an option there, etc.)
Then I’ll make sure to pack my workout clothes. And whether it means I’m up at 0500 or sneaking in a run while the family is napping – I’ll make sure those workout clothes get used.
Do you know what gives me more pride than most things? Working out at 0530 on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning when everyone else is asleep and allegedly nursing a hangover that may or may not be related to the 5 White Russians they had last night…
Call me Sisyphus – I’ll be over here pushing my boulder.
4- Lay off the booze, brah
Hey – I’ve been there too. It’s the holidays, we see folks we don’t get to see all that often, parties ensue, and shenanigans can rule…
But as it turns out, my mom was right again when she said, “You don’t have to drink to have a good time.” (Moms are the best)
And she’s right. Replace the drink in your hand with a glass of water and make sure you’re staying hydrated for the Christmas Eve dance party that’s on its way in 47 minutes. (Oh – is that just our family??)
Here are some handy excuses to use (in case you would need them):
I’m the DD tonight
My wife is pregnant and who knows if we’d need to head to the doctor at some point
I’m pregnant (if roles are reversed) – (BTW – this can be an excellent conversation and party starter)
I’m on a health plan and the extra calories in that Michelob Ultra are still greater than 0. (Call me when you find the 0 calorie beverage, Michelob).
I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of my kids/family/fiancee/in-laws…
(and my personal favorite)
Wear the crop top, wait for the question, point to the abs, and say – “You think this is an accident?”
(I’ve got the gumption for the last one – just waiting for the abs…)
5- Embrace the elements
The number of calories you burn, your athletic ability, and endurance level all depend on a myriad of variables.
One of those variables (arguably) is external temperature. There is much debate about which temperature range (hot or cold) lends to more calories burned, but if there’s one thing that’s true – it’s easier to pack on layers in the cold weather than it is to remove them in the summer (you can only go so far…).
I’m working on a post around positive modeling weather to your kids – and the importance of not imprinting on their little minds that rain, snow, clouds, … automatically = bad weather.
So it’s not sunny outside… B F’in D?
It’s raining? We’ve all had a shower before.
Snowing? Even better!
My point in saying all of this is that how you set your mind in response to these different weather events will dramatically affect your outcome
It’s easier said than done, but we’ve worked hard with our daughter to show her that raining does not automatically = bad. We’ll strap on the rain gear and go pick weeds, for example. Go for a walk… You name it.
And your exercise regimen can also fight through the elements.
Take stock of the conditions, prepare your gear appropriately, then go get after it!
Final pregame speech
Ladies and gentlemen – the holidays are out there… Lurking… Waiting… And scheming for the exact right moment to spring up and snatch the precious gains you’ve earned over the course of the preceding 10 months. They don’t care about your goals, your plans, or where you see yourself in 5-years.
They care about 1 thing – a great time with family and friends.
And on its face, that may not seem so terrible. But let me tell you 1 thing right here and now! You want a lifetime full of memories and great moments with your family and friends!?!?
(You should stand up, fist pump, and yell, “YEAH!” in response to this question)
Then dang-nab-it – you need to take care of yourself! You need to make healthy choices! And you need to embrace the chaos that we know is headed our way!
The holidays are not coming with a surprise attack – they’re forming at our 12-o-clock and they’re coming to meet us head-on.
Are you prepared for that battle?
Are you prepared? For my first 25 years, I wasn’t – and ever since then, I’ve slipped up more than a few times. But I always try to recenter and get back on the path. What about you? Are there some tips up there that can help you out this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!