Ah, the holidays! What’s not to love? Food, gifts, Aunt Bethany, ugly sweaters, and food. Seriously there’s nothing I like better than going from house to house eating enough to garner concern, but the fact is my goals aren’t always on the “Man vs. Food” spectrum. I travel the world with my UFC clientele and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy myself in food and drink between after parties and celebrations. These days, I try to keep my diet clean when I’m home so that I can afford to splurge from time to time with my athletes. I’m guessing there are many of you like me who are trying to keep the train on the tracks this Christmas. If you’re unsure how to eat clean and enjoy Christmas, there is hope. Twas the night before Christmas and I formulated a plan.
Know Your Options
My recommendations for athletes are always to, "eat meat, fowl, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, roots, tubers, bulbs, herbs and spices, as well as animal fats, olives & olive oil, avocados, coconut, and dairy (maybe)".
For my general population, I recommend similar guidelines with lower allowance of roots, tubers and dairy. Looking at the typical holiday meals, you will find much of the above on the table. Sure, sweet potato casserole is a dolled up version of "roots and tubers", but we aren't stretching too far here.
Often times, thirst is mistaken as hunger. While you may want second helpings you may just need another drink- of water that is! Drink several glasses of water with your meals. Your daily amount should be no less than half your body weight in ounces per day.
Prioritize YOUR PLATE
Most of us have that one holiday food we struggle with the most. For me, it's mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole- It's better than your mom’s. Prioritize the foods you really want and say no to the ones you can live without. When you choose that item you have looked forward to all year do so in…
Sweet Potato Casserole is amazing. I love it. However, it doesn't take an entire dish of the stuff to recognize how good it is. More holidays are just around the corner. Eat some of what you love, but understand that you are stronger than your desire to eat and show some self control.
This one is crucial. When I am consulting a new client or athlete on performance or weight loss, my recommendation is almost always to "sleep more", regardless of how much they are currently sleeping. When you sleep your body not only fights sickness and disease, but releases hormones crucial to performance and lean body mass. Under sleeping deems you more likely to fall sick, diseased and overweight. The holidays are a time many of us are out of work and are able to sleep more than we typically would. If this is you, make up for lost time and stay in bed. I promise you a few extra hours of sleep will go a lot further than a few extra hours of mass consumerism.
The holidays shouldn't be a time of stress. When you stress you are more likely to stress eat. Under stress the body also produces the stress hormone cortisol which is bad for both your heart and your waistline.
You're probably going to eat a little more than you typically would even when following the above guidelines. Try not to pair increased eating with decreased activity. Yes, I want you to relax but you also need to stay active. You may not have time to get to the gym and that's fine. Play in the snow. Pick up a basketball and show the kids the "glory days" aren't too far behind. Do push-ups. A closed gym is an invitation to get creative.
Don't be weird
Now is not the time to pretentiously inform the table that your primal ancestors didn't eat Gran's Green Bean Casserole and since your “box” is closed you have to be "extra Paleo". Make the choices that are best for you and your goals, but don't ruin the holiday spirit with your soapbox. You were not sent to earth to fight Darwin's Law. Besides, after the holiday's you're much more likely to get your loved ones on board with this whole fitness thing if you didn't give a speech on grass fed butter at the dinner table.
Christmas should be a time of family and food. While some of you may certainly use this as prime time for bulking, many of us have goals counterproductive to gluttony. Go to Gram’s with a plan of attack and don’t let the side dishes sneak up on you. During this time it’s important to remember that Christmas should be enjoyed and cherished. Don’t let your fitness goals stand in the way of a good time and most certainly, “Don’t Be Weird”.