The holidays are an amazing time of year! But the holidays can also be a trap. No, not a trap to make you spend unwanted time with annoying relatives, although yes it can be that. The holidays are a trap due to the fact that it is easy to get too busy to train or workout and can be a big hazard to the progress you’ve made on your fitness all year.
I love time to disconnect from the gym and time to prioritize quality time with family and travel and connections that really matter. But I also understand that those times don’t last a whole month or even weeks at a time. The biggest pitfall of the holidays isn’t that we are really too busy, it is often that we don’t deal with setbacks well. Most people, when forced to miss back to back days of training, don’t just miss training but then they also eat like crap, sleep like crap and drink like crap. Then what happens? Well not only did you burn the calories your body uses but you also just added a ton of extra calories your body isn’t used to and also under slept so it starts to affect your focus, energy and body functions. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Several wrongs don’t make a right. During the next few weeks remember that when 1 thing is off like your training routine, it doesn’t mean you should simply submit to treating your body like it doesn’t matter. On days you can’t train or even weeks, remember to do your best with your hydration, nutrition and sleep. Yes it is ok to have a few drinks, yes it is ok to indulge at big meals to celebrate with family or parties with friends. But, this doesn’t mean that if you eat 3 meals a day, that they should all be “party meals”. For some reason, humans struggle with this depiction of “all or none” all the time. This approach is far more problematic than helpful.
Here are my tips for maintaining your fitness through the new year!
- Have a plan. Know when and where you can train through the holiday, especially if you are traveling.
- Eat or drink protein early and often. We know that no matter what you ought to be eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight you have in order to keep the muscles you’ve worked hard for. Even when you plan on being in a caloric surplus, protein should NOT BE LOW. And in most cases at parties or gatherings you’ll get plenty of carbs and fat but likely be low on protein.
- Drink reburst/ electrolytes each day you plan to have alcohol or lots of caffeine. If you don’t partake in alcohol, it’s likely you have a fond attraction to canned caffeinated beverages. The bad news is that both have side effects when not used wisely. Stay hydrated by making sure you get plenty of sodium in your water and potassium. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that can lead to dehydration. Drink plenty of water and electrolytes.
- Sleep more. Hey if you don’t have to work and don’t have infants, do what you can to get more sleep. Most often people use holidays to stay up late to commune with friends and family or just stay up late to binge watch shows they normally don’t have time to watch! And I am as guilty as any, during the week of Christmas and New Years I get the least sleep I’ll have all year, but that doesn’t make it ok! My advice is to get what sleep you can when you can. If there is nothing to stay up for, don’t stay up, get your butt to bed! And if you can sleep in, do it. If you cannot sleep in, catch a nap! I don’t need to go into depth on all the good things sleep does for us, but it's really everything. Sleep enhances your alertness, mood, brain function but also regulates your hormones, increases lean body mass, helps you burn more body fat and the more you sleep the less likely you are to binge eat later in the day!
- Move in your day to day activities. I don’t like to make a big deal about getting time at the gym when I’m with my family away or we are hosting family. But what I do is to try to get everyone moving with me if I can. I suggest going on walks after big meals, waking up and getting outdoors alone on a quick run or something that can last under 30:00. If you have a family that likes to move or not, you can always come up with fun challenges that can be physical. Every first down during a football game everyone does 10 air squats or push ups or every hour that passes during the day, drop down and knock out 20 push ups. The bottom line is that we need to MOVE. It’s natural to be sluggish and lazy, but it’ll bring energy to your day, blood to your muscles and keep your contraction volume higher than doing nothing at all!
The most important thing to remember is that something is better than nothing!
Have a Merry Christmas!