The holidays are just around the corner, which is typically a time when festive feasts and tasty treats become all too common in one’s diet. Because of this, many people attempt to go pretty hard in the gym, or tighten up on their nutrition, as they expect these things to not be prioritized from November to January.
If now seems like the best time to lose weight, and feel your best as we head into the holiday season, here are the top 3 strategies to remember to set you up for success.
Track Your Food
You want to be sure you’re in a calorie deficit; the number of calories you consume needs to be less than the amount of calories you expend for weight loss to occur. As always, there needs to be a heavy emphasis on reducing heavily processed foods, while ensuring you are consuming enough protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Let’s face it: you are not going to be honest with yourself when the holidays roll around, and you’re trying to track your nutrition. One cookie here or there, or an extra serving of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, will likely be long forgotten in the sea of calories you’ll consume over the holiday season.
I want to take this time to remind you that it is important to enjoy the holiday season, and avoid creating so much anxiety around calorie counting and eating clean all the time. It’s a time to celebrate, and not to be so concerned with looking our fittest.
This is why many people focus heavily on their nutrition beforehand. However, we don’t want to go TOO overboard on healthy eating. What do I mean, exactly? I’m talking about juice cleanses, extreme calorie-cutting, and bizarre diets that promise major weight loss–you know what I’m talking about. Do these things initially work when it comes to losing weight? Sure, but that is a recipe for disaster when you head into the holiday season. For many people, heavy restrictions leads to cravings and binging later.
Increase Your NEAT
You work out pretty regularly, and at a decent intensity, so it is really hard to recommend to people to just work out more than what they’re already doing. Someone who works out 5 days a week for 60 minutes likely doesn’t have another day to add in; in fact, those two rest days are probably more important for muscle growth and recovery than adding more workouts.
This is where non-exercise activity thermogenesis comes in. Adding more activity outside your workouts is an easy, non-intense way to get moving and burn more calories. If you like to read or listen to audiobooks, add in some movement by walking while listening to your audiobook, or read on your Kindle while walking on your treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike. If reading isn’t your thing, try streaming your favorite show on your phone or Ipad instead.
Don’t think of this time as exercise; you’re not coming out of this feeling like you normally would after a workout. Overall intensity shouldn’t be over 50% of maximum intensity; you should still be able to maintain a normal conversation for the entirety of the activity.
Other ways to include more movement during the day is taking the stairs when available, parking in a spot farthest from the door, or even just stretching for 15 to 20 minutes at some point during the day.
It doesn’t sound strenuous (and it shouldn’t), but these movement habits will only aid you on your weight loss journey, while offering heart-healthy benefits.
Cut Out The Alcohol
I don’t need to say a lot about this one!
I think we can all agree that alcohol doesn’t provide many benefits for one’s waistline. When consumed in moderation, some people will argue that alcohol isn’t entirely bad for our health, but it’s never going to be something that I would recommend for one’s nutrition plan.
Think of the number of calories you save by not drinking; 1 to 2 drinks daily comes out to 200 calories a day, or 1,400 calories a week–over time, that adds up! Not to mention, alcohol tends to make you bloat and crave fatty and salty foods. When was the last time you wanted a salad after drinking??
If you routinely drink, eliminating alcohol is almost a guaranteed way to start seeing weight loss.