Once you’ve seen the holidays through, you may need to get yourself back into your normal routine.
To make sure you don’t overturn all your hard work, you should make sure you know what to look out for throughout the holiday season.
Your main obstacles when it comes to the holidays will be unhealthy foods, like sweets and cakes, and possibly too much alcohol.
One thing that will be super useful is to plan the ideal weight you would like to be at the end of January before January gets here.
That will inform you how much ‘wiggle room' you have when it comes to the festive season.
Monitoring your weight throughout the holidays will give you the feedback loop you need to understand where you are each day and allow you to take the necessary actions to put anything right.
How To Navigate The Holiday Season
First things first, we don’t want you to BAN yourself completely from enjoying the festivities. This would likely lead to rebellion and binging!
What we want you to do is enjoy yourself, but take the correct steps to limit the impact. This will mean less hard work in January.
One thing that's useful to do is to add to your calendar all the dates of festive parties and gatherings you have coming up.
This will allow you to take full advantage of the 10 tips I'll give you below to keep you on track during the holidays:
Tip #1 – Have a smaller piece of dessert
Whenever you feel like you want to satisfy your cravings for something sweet, allow yourself to, but with a smaller piece of dessert than normal.
Having a smaller piece of cake, or 1 cookie instead of 3, will help to keep the calorie content down.
Knowing that you can have a piece of dessert will help keep you sane on the days where there is plenty on offer.
Tip #2 – Limit your indulgences to once per day
Leading on from the point above, understand that there is a limit to how much high-calorie food you should have.
Limiting yourself to one indulgence each day doesn't mean you should make sure you get that. It just gives you a buffer should the cravings prove too much.
If you feel confident you can avoid the sweets, cookies or desserts, then please follow that instinct instead.
Tip #3 – Avoid second helpings
Still running along the same vein here, if you do decide to have your small piece of dessert, make sure not to go back for a second helping.
Seconds can be one of the biggest contributors to adding extra weight over the holidays.
There is so much good food around that it's easy to justify that your second portion would only add up to the same calories as a normal portion anyway.
You need to dispel this myth from your own mind as two desserts equal double the calories. There's no getting around it.
Tip #4 – Have small, healthy meals leading up to parties or gatherings, so you're not starving when you get there
This tip alone will save you heaps of calories throughout the holiday season.
Arriving to a party hungry can spell instant disaster for even the most iron-disciplined of men.
You know you need to eat, but what greets you at every house you visit over the holidays? Snacks, candies, cookies, chips, desserts, gingerbread, and so much more.
If you're hungry, you'll end up throwing out your healthy oath and taking up a new one from the pages of Hansel and Gretel (eating a Gingerbread house, not burning a witch).
Tip #5 – Eat your meal slowly and make sure to eat until 90% full, rather than stuffed
When you sit down to enjoy a good meal with your family, take care to eat mindfully and slowly, until you're 90% full.
As you take time to chew your food, you'll be breaking it down, so your stomach doesn't need to do so much work when the food reaches there.
Eating slowly also allows your brain to understand your levels of fullness better, so you're not as likely to overindulge.
Mindful eating to 90% full will definitely make a difference to the number of calories you take in and in turn, will help keep your weight stable.
Tip #6 – Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Drinking water throughout the day is a great habit that will fix so many things.
Proper water intake (around 3 liters per day) will help you feel full for longer.
It will also help you digest your food better; if you're drinking alcohol, it will help with the symptoms of a hangover, and it will also keep your energy and alertness levels raised.
Keeping your daily water intake at this level will be something to work on over the holiday season, so it's already a habit come the New Year.
Tip #7 – Complete a strength workout on a day when you know you may eat more than usual
Completing a strength workout on a day when you know there will be lots of food around is a great way to get extra nutrients into your muscles.
When you do strength training, you break down your muscle fibers and put your body into a state of muscle (or protein) synthesis.
Muscle synthesis is when your body feeds the broken down fibers with the nutrients you take in throughout the day in order to repair them and make them bigger and stronger.
The additional calories taken in will be shipped into your muscles to help this process and are less likely to be stored.
Tip #8 – Fast, intermittently fast, or eat light the day after a big event
As a balance to any higher calorie days, you can choose to fast, intermittently fast, or eat light the following day.
Fasting, as most people will know, is simply not eating for the whole day following a feast. Including sleeping time, this will usually make the fast around 36 hours.
Intermittent fasting would be to fast from after the feast until the same meal the following day. So if you ate your feast at 5 pm, you would fast until 5 pm the following day.
Eating light is exactly as it sounds. You would have low-carb, light meals the day after the feast. The best type of meal would be a fibrous salad mixed with a protein.
Something like a seafood, chicken, or tofu salad is perfect.
Tip #9 – Weigh yourself daily to give yourself feedback
Weighing yourself each day throughout the holiday season will help by giving you a feedback loop to work with.
Knowing what the fluctuations are will give you the data you need to be able to make informed decisions about your food intake.
If you notice you've gained a few pounds after a big feast, fast the following day and see how that affects things.
If the full fast doesn't help too much, try intermittent fasting, more water, and a few more hours of sleep.
Pay attention to what the scales tell you about the approach you're taking. If the needle isn't moving, it's time to make a few tweaks.
Tip #10 – Make sure you get at least 7 hours sleep each night
Our final tip is one that we mention a lot here at Fit Father Project. Get your full 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Sleep is your body's natural repair, regrowth, and recharge agent. One of the main benefits of a good night's sleep is hormone balance.
Having your hormones balanced will allow your body to read its signals at their optimum, so you'll know when you're hungry, satiated, stressed, tired, etc.
Get in the habit of sleeping for an absolute minimum of 7 hours each night, and you'll find it easier to get back on track after the holidays.
Now you know what to do during the holidays, but what happens after?
Once the holidays are done, the fastest way to get back on track is to accept what has passed.
You can then re-evaluate your current position and future goals and proceed with your healthy lifestyle.
Don’t get stuck in the comfortable trap of eating badly and not making an effort to stay healthy.
Get back to your normal workout routine and healthy eating habits.
Re-evaluating your goals and journaling about what went well and what didn’t will give you better focus when you come up against similar issues in the future (vacations, illness or injury, other holidays like Easter and Halloween, etc.).
Now you know that the best way to get back on track after the holidays is to monitor your habits through them and utilize our 10 tips above.
Use these to limit the impact of bad decisions and to build strong habits that you can carry forward into the New Year.
If you have any questions about any of this information, please leave us a comment below.
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Here's to a fantastic festive season and an even better New Year.
Your new friend & health coach,
Small note about research cited in this article:
*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results/outcomes. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply well-researched information about how to get back on track. Thanks for reading!