Some holiday advice, guidance, motivation and links to good things – written by coach Taylor
It’s December, ergo Christmas festivities are in full bloom. This is the time of year to celebrate your year and life with family and friends – and with this comes delicious food, ‘beverages’ and LOTS of desserts. Enjoy yourself, you worked hard this year and it’s your life; live it.
Now, that being said (TBS) here it comes… Our body, mind and physique take an absolute beating this time of year. We are under slept, over scheduled with social activity and over indulged in the alcohol, desserts and Christmas cheer… But don’t worry, there are things you can do or at least be cognizant of, during this season to minimize some of the health impacts or at least start the new year off on the right foot once it’s over.
Why? Availability, simplicity and applicability to the every-day person. Work is going to slow down, possibly become borderline painful, so use some extra time to cruise the blogosphere for the top 5 or 10 ways to stay fit and make healthier choices through the holidays. There are some pretty creative ideas out there and why not use those to get the brain thinking, think of it as warm up. That Being Said (TBS)… these are not scholarly researched articles or written by anyone who is even an expert or even who has experience with the subject matter in many cases – these days many writers are SEO/SEM professions trolling other blogs/articles amassing information, simplifying it and spitting it out for us in a brand-friendly version with pretty pictures (rant over). BUT what these can do is spark some ideas and motivation that closely relate to the lifestyle habits of the masses.
Appetizer: Xmas Activity
Try not to drop off the fitness and nutrition map completely. If you’re a 3-4 day a week exerciser, try to make it in 2-3 days still – let’s call it at least 80% of what your regular schedule is – and let’s pair that with choosing some outdoor activities, weather permitting, when possible to stay active. And when looking for something to do, dinner/drinks is great but maybe incorporate some skating, doing the river walk, cooking on your feet or playing a game that keeps you active.
At concerts, events, etc. stand, walk and socialize vs. sitting and drinking. Move around, dance and get out of your comfort zone. Your heart rate will go up (burn some extra cals, why not) and you’ll have a great time! TBS there’s no need to feel terrible about ourself, drop what you’re doing to do 30 burpees for time in public. Apparently people think this is weird, personal experience. And when you do make it out to exercise, enjoy it. Don’t be discouraged if the you’re not operating to your full potential, just give it all you got when you go in and leave happy. We’ll tackle the rest in the new year.
You’re going to have some Christmas beverages, admit it.. it’s fine. It’s social, it makes for a great night and it’s down right delicious. TBS choose your drinks and more importantly your mix wisely. Cut out the pop, fruit juice when possible. Instead mix with water (or part water) and some light lemon, lime or mint. Maybe grab some full bodied craft beers or wine instead of a twelve pack and for the love of fitness and health.. DRINK WATER while DRINKING! Your body, mind and potential hang over will LOVE you for it. Try to have a half-to-full glass of water for every hour while out, plus one before bed and one immediately upon waking. And if/when you wake up feeling a little off, don’t waste the day away with pizza and television. Just shower, get moving and try to get some water and whole foods into you.
Same goes for food.. indulge, a little, and try to keep 80% of your regular eating habits. What does this mean? Well, if you normally eat 3-4 meals a day, keep 2-3 of those consistent with your regular habits and keep the indulging to once a day – later in the day the better because once you break your normal routine, the rest of the day IS GOING TO BE TOUGH. Load up in the mornings with fats and proteins and it’ll help curb some of those cravings. If you don’t eat breakfast, we have some work to do… EAT BREAKFAST.
And if you really want to stay on top of it, do some minor meal prep one a week or better yet that I have found is try to make a well rounded home cooked meal once or twice a week and make double… enough for you to have once or twice again. Why?
- If you cooked it, paid for it and it’s in your fridge you are going to eat it. It may hold you back from grabbing something on the go or worse eating nothing at all.
- It’s more economical (less $) to eat what you cook. Save you cash for presents, nights out at events and good wine, quality scotch, etc.
- When cooking at home, we can cook better portions that are more conducive to keeping up with our ‘diet’. Example: Over estimate how much chicken, steak, fish, etc. to make; cook two type of fresh vegetable, add nuts, oils, etc. and keep the rice, bread, grains to a minimum.
Keep Up With Your Sleep
I cannot express this enough. You’re going to have some late nights, early mornings and LONG days. Enjoy your social time with family and friends; enjoy every second of it and laugh, smile, etc. for as long as possible. TBS try to take at least a day a week to sleep in and ‘catch up’ even if it’s only for an extra hour or two once a week to recharge. When we are under slept, we do and crave weird things. We are more stressed, generally eat poorly and make snap decisions that can have lingering effects in body and mind. So try to pick an evening, stay in, relax and sleep well once in while. Throw on some comedy or Netflix and chill.
Main Course: The New Year & Nutrition
Back to Business
When the holiday’s are over, revisit this post because it’s time to get back on track and time to get to work. Some of us will set well defined fitness goals based on weight, body fat, etc. and others will simply say I want to be in better shape, look better naked or simply be healthier – whatever your goals may be, there are some fundamentals to zone-in on and look at first before jumping into a program or even setting a goal. There is no use setting a goal if you don’t have a foundation, plan or general direction to achieve it. One of the most common things is to have a goal, jump in 100% and fall off in the first couple weeks. It happens and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Learn from it. Find out what worked and what didn’t and make an adjustment – taste/preference, lifestyle and habits differ, so you need to find something that is tailored to you. TBS there are some fundamentals that significantly impact the effectiveness of a program and your overall progress.
Health, wellness, whatever – any lasting change requires gradual development; it means changing our mindset, habits and lifestyle.
When I am approached by someone for advice, a nutrition plan, workout plan, etc. there are some set topics we cover ever BEFORE we talk about goals. Why? Because regardless of the goal, your ability to reach that goal rests on the dedication, mindfulness and determination of reaching those goals – and this is a great initial diagnostic to find out where you and how much effort you want to put it.
- Sleep Schedule
How many hours a day are you sleeping? And what do you do before you go to bed and immediately upon waking. If you’re answer is less than 8 hours, your program and goals will suffer. You will fall off the rails before the 4-6 week mark and you will tire out.
- Physical Activity
What are you already doing for physical activity and what time do you have available?
- Alcohol Consumption
How much alcohol do you consume regularly? In my opinion, next to sleep, this is probably the second most important impact to reaching your potential. That’s right, ahead of exercise. It impacts your body, mind, hormone production, sleep, blah, blah, blah. Now, I’m not saying suck the fun out of life but just be aware of it’s impact compared to your level of dedication to whatever your goal may be.
- Sugar Intake
How much sugar to do consume? Baked goods, fruit, sauces, alcohol (again), etc. because this is usually one of the easiest things to target for weight loss or athletic performance. We need a combination of both complex and simple carbohydrates, we don’t need excess sugars. Once we acknowledge how much we are taking over a day, it usually surprises us.
Do you eat breakfast? If not, start eating breakfast. Start the day of right in body and mind with fats and proteins vs. a major insulin spike or nothing at all. Fill the gas tank up for what will be the day’s adventure.
What’s your goal? Set a goal, anything. And make it specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound. We may succeed or fail. Either way, we will learn something and progress forward knowing we did it with intent.
Want some tips to rule your diet…
Dessert: Bonus Points
Foods we should find in your kitchen:
- Steak, ground beef
- Chicken, Fish, Avocados
- Pears, Apples, Bananas
- Broccoli, Spinach, carrots, green stuff!
- Natural Almond/Peanut Butter
That’s all for today, stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where I’ll do a general overview of a few nutrition programs out there, my experience with them and give you a link to a 75min Nutrition 101 video that is a must-watch for everyone.
Happy Holidays! See you next week.