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Holiday Survival Guide

Winter is coming. The holidays are upon us. Here’s our guide to surviving the season: 

Get Your Mind Right 

Go in with a mindset of accountability rather than the mentality of “it’s the holidays, screw it.” Decide, “I’m going to enjoy myself and eat some unhealthy foods and not be as active as normal, but I’m not going to make that an excuse to eat irresponsibly until I feel sick and lay on the couch for an entire week.” Don’t underestimate this tip. Get your mind right.  

Make a Plan 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  - Ben Franklin 

Schedule what each day over the holidays consists of. Write it down: events, big meals, potential obstacles, times you can get away to workout, etc. Decide what meals your are going to indulge and decide what meals you are going to be strict. If you have a big meal planned one night, be more strict the rest of the day. When you have this planned and written down, you will be more likely to hold yourself accountable. It’s okay to stray from the itinerary slightly, but at least you have a blueprint.  

Also, have your plan made for getting back on track after the holidays. Do that now so you can pick up that first day after the holidays right where you left off. Plan what workouts you are going to do that first week back, when you will make a grocery run, and when you will do some meal prep. It can be easy that first week to say “I’ll start back up next week” and next thing you know it’s March. Don’t let that happen. 

Hit The Gym 

If you aren’t traveling, then you have no excuse! Your home gym will only be closed a day or two, so you should hardly miss a beat. If you are traveling for more than 3-4 days, it might be beneficial to get a multiple-day pass to a local gym; especially if you’re the type that lacks the motivation to workout at home. Bodyweight workouts, or ones with minimal equipment, can be tough and intense but there’s just no substitute for barbells and dumbbells and heavy weights. We all know that! 

Put Extra Calories to Good Use 

Since you will likely be eating more calories and carbs, which means more energy, your workouts should be kick ass! Your focus should be on high intensity and high density workouts (a lot of work in a short period of time). Utilize the compound movements and full body workouts with minimal rest. You don’t need to be gone long: get in, lift heavy, rest minimally, and get out. 

Be efficient with the timing of your workouts. If possible, plan your workouts around your heavy meals. It would be ideal to get a workout in 1-2 hours before a big dinner so that the carbs go towards muscle recovery. But you can also take advantage of the extra calories the next morning. Get up and crush a workout the morning after a big meal. Sounds like a great time to hit legs! 

Workouts at Home 

If you don’t have access to a gym, that’s not an excuse to do NOTHING for a week. You may have to put strength and bodybuilding gains to the side for now in place of maintenance, but you can still keep the intensity and density high by utilizing circuits, plyometrics, bodyweight strength training, and minimal rest. This might even be an excuse to give your body a break from heavy lifting. Your strength and bodybuilding gains will still be there after the holidays. Just don’t let this snowball into a lazy start to the new year. 

Try these home workouts if you need inspiration: 

Workout 1: 600 Reps 
300 squats 
200 sit ups 
100 push ups 
Break this up any way you wish. Just get the total number of reps for each exercise. Time yourself if you want so you have a goal to beat next time you do it.  
 
Workout 2: Tabata HIIT 
(Photo of burpees or jump lunges or someone tired or like stopwatch?) 
1 Round = 4 minutes consisting of 20 seconds of work : 10 seconds of rest (beginners can start at 15:15) 
Alternate between: 
1) Burpees (substitute: Squat to Push Up) 
2) Alt. Lunge Jumps (substitute: Reverse Lunges) 
So you’ll do 20 seconds of burpees, rest 10 seconds, then 20 seconds of alternating lunge jumps, rest 10 seconds, and repeat 4 times. Complete 2-3 rounds with a 2-4 minute rest in between rounds. 

 

Carb Deload  

Mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, buns, gravy, desserts, candy, beer, oh my! Carbohydrate intake will be high over the holidays (at least if you’re doing it right) which can lead to unwanted fat storage, especially when your training intensity, volume, and frequency are low. Reduce your carbohydrate portions significantly for the week (or two) prior to the holidays. When you do this, your metabolism will decrease. Then, the increased carbohydrates you’ll be eating over the holidays will actually help spike your metabolism back up and allow you to continue burning fat (or at least not put too much of it on).  

Keep Macros in Mind 

Even when indulging and eating relatively unhealthy foods, you can keep portions and macros in mind. Eat the mashed potatoes but keep it to one scoop (a heaping scoop of course). Have one or two rolls, not seven. Watch out for unwanted and unnecessary fats and oils. Pick and choose your favorite carb- and calorie-heavy foods. Only eat your favorites. Don’t eat the vegan mac and cheese just because you don’t want to make your friend feel bad. Finally, keep your lean protein portions high! Load up on the white meat turkey, chicken, fish, egg whites, etc. Utilize protein shakes throughout the day if lean proteins aren’t as accessibly.  

Have Fun, Drink Up 

Drink your beer, wine, and cocktails but drink your water with it too! Staying hydrated is key to maneuvering alcohol consumption. Not only does it help keep you hydrated but it will slow you down. It would be cliché to recommend that you only have one or two drinks per day/night but that’s not realistic for most. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And don’t let drinking be a reason to be a sloth the following day. Get up and move. And drink even more water.  

Feast and Famine 

Utilize Intermittent Fasting. If you don’t know what that is, we’ll save the in-depth explanation for a separate post. For now just see it as delaying your first meal of the day for a few hours. It could be only 2 hours or upwards of 6 hours. Because certain meals will be larger than normal, we want to eat less throughout the rest of the day, as well as give our gut a break from all that digesting and absorbing. It can be very beneficial and strategic to do an extended fast after a particularly gluttonous dinner. Drink lots of water when fasting.  

 

Get Back On Track 

Enjoy yourself over the holiday season. Indulge a little. Relax a little. But when it’s time to get back to work, it’s time to get back to work. Get out that plan you made before the holidays started and get after it!