You have something called willpower; it’s what stops you from making stupid decisions, like face-planting into cake. Unfortunately, it’s not very good at stopping you from making too many stupid decisions, as it’s required in all decision making, such as what to eat for lunch, what to wear for the day, whether you'll go to the gym or not, any important business/work decisions etc. Willpower is limited and is like a battery that is recharged daily. If you spend too much energy on too many decisions in the day, your willpower will deteriorate real quick and your face may be in that cake before you even realise it! (FYI this is why avoiding chocolate at night is harder than in the morning). Therefore, we want to conserve our willpower as much as possible. Having your meals pre-planned and prepared will prevent you from having to make a decision as to what you’re going to eat, and therefore, even if you’ve had a long day and all your willpower is drained, you won’t fall off track – there’s no decision about what you’re going to eat; it’s already prepared and ready to go - you have no choice.
2. Balance high days with low days
Let's be real here; I don't care how disciplined and committed you are, there's going to be some days where you slip on your diet - it's pretty much inevitable at this time of the year. Good news is, it's not the end of the world! Fat gain/loss doesn’t just depend on what you’ve eaten today; it depends on what you’ve eaten over a course of multiple days, weeks, months and years. The trick is to learn to balance out your energy intake. If you overeat one day, you can eat slightly less the following day, or in the days leading up to a day you know you will overeat a bit. This doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself - nor do we recommend it either - it just means eating slightly less. That may be just as simple as replacing your potato with more veg at dinner, or having a chicken salad instead of a chicken sandwich. It’s small, so it won’t affect your hunger and mood too much, if at all, but will help to balance out the amount of energy you consume over a period of time and thus help to ensure you do not gain body fat in the long term.
3. Try not to miss a workout
Fairly obvious - exercise is always helpful for burning energy and maintaining/improving condition, but what you may not realise is its psychological impact for helping you to stay on track with your nutrition and goals. Training requires discipline and focus. By getting to the gym or hitting the road for a run, you’re subconsciously reinforcing your focus on your goals; getting fit, in-shape, and healthy. Performing a strenuous workout also releases many 'feel good' hormones and chemicals, which will help to make you feel better about yourself and will help encourage you to keep up your fitness regime and healthy, balanced eating.
4. Reserve your calories and limit alcohol
For the average adult, who works a sedentary job, does very little daily activity, and only gets 60 minutes of exercise (if that) per day, it’s very easy to consume more energy from food than you will burn in a day. Unfortunately, all the tasty food and alcohol at this time of year is absolutely crammed with calories, particularly from carbohydrates and fats. It’s incredibly easy to consume a normal whole days’ worth of calories in just one meal with dessert and alcohol. Just like balancing overeating in point 2, you can also balance your eating on a smaller time-scale during the day. If you know you’re going to splurge and enjoy yourself in the evening at a work party or dinner, focus on limiting your food choices to good quality protein sources such as poultry, fish, low fat meat etc. and load up on vegetables during the day. Doing so will limit the amount of carbohydrates and fats you consume, which will then allow you more room to consume more carbohydrates and fats later in the day. This will help prevent you from consuming excess energy from food for the entire day, whilst still keeping you full and satisfied throughout the day.
5. Be easy on yourself
The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years is not the best time to be expecting massive progress in fat loss, especially if you’re quite social. Many people find themselves having an 'all or nothing' attitude - they're either 100% on track, or 100% off track. Do yourself a favour and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you haven’t seen many of your family and friends for a long time, take advantage of the situation and shift your focus on spending quality time with loved ones, as opposed to excessively worrying about your physique. If it means you have one or two bad days, it's not the end of the world! The other five to six days of being on track will still prove to be extremely productive to your goals - don't throw in the towel for the entire weak just because you had a bad day. Take small progress as a win and consider maintaining condition as a great achievement in itself, just don’t let the festive season be an excuse to let go of yourself and store body fat unnecessarily.
As always, moderation and balance is key to building a fit, strong and healthy body, and to maintain it. Just like one good meal won't suddenly make you fit, healthy and lean, nor will one 'bad' meal make you unfit, fat and unhealthy. It's important to learn how to manage your energy intake from food, so that you can remain social and enjoy life. Being fit and healthy should compliment and fit into your life, not take over it.
Have a merry Christmas and happy New Year from the team at Recalibrated Bodies!
Daniel & Amanda