During the holidays you pretty much can’t throw a wet cat without hitting some article about holiday weight gain. In fact, I’ve written my share of those articles with the same tips everyone gives you every year. Tips like:
- Eat something healthy before you go to the holiday party.
- Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage or, better yet, don’t drink at all.
- Fill your plate with vegetables first and then chow down on the mashed potatoes and stuffing.
- Only choose one or two indulgences so you don’t overdo it.
- Only eat and drink in moderation.
- Add time to your workout to mitigate the calories.
I could go on, but you get the point.
The thing about these rules is that they make sense. Of course they do. These are rules that any sensible, self-aware person would follow. The problem is, we don’t follow them.
We don’t follow them because it’s the holidays and that very word is synonymous with indulgence. Not only that, but there are other factors that make it extremely difficult to follow any of those rules.
Why These Rules Are Stupid
- You’re with family. You love your family, but being with family stresses you out. What do you do when you get stressed out? You drink away your stress. Then you eat away your stress. Then you drink some more. It’s what we do.
- Yummy food. The food during the holidays is yummy. It has fat and butter and cream and it tastes good. Do I want a plate full of raw carrots and celery or do I want a mound of potatoes and macaroni and cheese?
- Social pressure. And then there’s the fact that everyone around you is eating and drinking all the yummy stuff. Someone with an iron will may be able to stick to the carrots, but most of us will feel that as a kind of permission to do the same thing. If we’re all eating too much then it’s okay, right?
- Pent-up energy. The time leading up to Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, is kind of like a pressure cooker. We shop, we decorate, we go to parties, we run around like headless chickens and whammo! The lid comes off at that last family gathering and we pretty much say – Screw it! I’m done trying to keep myself sane! Bring on the EGG NOG!
The real goal during the holidays isn’t avoiding weight gain…it’s survival and we all need to do what we can to come out on the other side so we can get back to some kind of normal life.
To that end, make your own rules about the holidays, but make them rules you know you’ll follow. I’ve got some for you.
Rules That Aren’t Stupid
- Pick the yummiest thing on the buffet, the one thing you’re dying for, and eat it first. Eat slowly and savor every calorie-laden bite.
- Avoid stupid foods. I would put carrots and celery on the list, but I would also add anything else you can eat any old time. Potato chips, nuts, all the pre-game frou-frou stuff. Don’t waste your appetite on that…save it for the good stuff.
- Drink smart. If you’re a drinker, you’ll want a strategy for that holiday dinner. The idea is to enjoy your booze but don’t let it interfere with all the good food you want to eat. I would suggest keeping it light – Some wine, maybe a vodka and soda. Enjoy your booze. Don’t let it enjoy you.
- Save room. If you’re picky enough and eat only the foods you really like, you’ll have plenty of room for dessert. Hopefully, there are multiple options to try.
- Stay in the moment. Yes, there is a tomorrow, but who cares? Enjoy all that’s good about the holidays free of guilt. Didn’t this year kind of suck? Didn’t you work hard? Isn’t it fun to blow it out the old bloomer leg? Go for it.
Yes, my rules don’t resemble any rules that any personal trainer would ever give to a client, but let’s be honest: Even trainers would find it hard not to indulge this time of year.
With that in mind, go into your holiday celebration with a clear head and a solid strategy. Figure out how to enjoy everything you want, all while dealing with Drunk Uncle Joe or Aunt Motormouth Edna. Forget about holiday weight gain and focus more on getting through this thing with as few emotional scars as possible.
And now, something fun…
Fun Facts About the Holiday
- Most people only gain about 1.5 pounds during the holidays as opposed to the 7-10 pounds you always hear about.
- Drinking can actually have health benefits including a lower risk of heart disease, boosted libido and more. Sure, that’s for moderate drinking. but you get to decide your own definition of ‘moderate.’ See how this works?
- Eating turkey this year? Good for you! It’s one of the leanest meats you can choose and it’s a great source of protein. It also includes tryptophan, which helps you take a good long nap after eating.
- Having some stuffing? Again, good for you! Breadcrumbs are rich in an antioxidant, pronyl-lysine, that has anticancer properties.
- What about eggnog? It’s a great source of Vitamin D and protein. And there’s alcohol in there and remember that moderate alcohol intake is good for you. 2 birds? 1 stone.
- How about tequila? It’s the holidays, but there’s no reason not to grab some Jose Cuervo (actually, choose a higher quality tequila if you can) because tequila aids in digestion and it’s a probiotic, which makes your gut healthy and happy. Shots for everyone!
- Napping after the meal? Good for you! Sleep burns tons of calories – you could burn up to 65 calories per hour just by snoozing.