It’s that time of year again. Believe it or not, the average American gains 10-15 lbs during the holidays (and we are talking primarily between Thanksgiving and Christmas!). But chances are that your holiday festivities are starting even sooner, with Halloween right behind us.
In my opinion, there’s no sense in gaining all this weight and letting go during the next few months only to commit to some New Year’s Resolution a month later. Let’s avoid the traps altogether and set you up for success this year, so you can really crush those New Year’s goals.
(^Don’t be this guy, lol)
Here are 3 Tips for Preparing for Holiday Festivities:
Tip#1: Create Exercise Micro-Commitments
Working out consistently can be a challenge for anyone, especially during the holidays. But it doesn’t always have to be a zero-sum game. Give yourself permission to do less, and I bet you’ll be surprised by how much your work ethic will begin to work for you rather than against you.
For example, instead of committing to hitting the gym for an hour and a half every day at 5am, make the commitment that you will do at least 5 minutes of some form of activity every day.
When you dissect your commitments into tiny micro commitments like this, you’ll end up not only sticking to your routine, but you will almost always end up doing more than just that micro commitment.
It seems futile to commit to 5 minutes of exercise, but I guarantee that once you get moving or once you get to the gym you will end up leaving an hour later because just getting there was the real obstacle.
Here are some exercise tips if you are a:
- Traveler: If you’re a busy traveler (whether it’s for business or pleasure) you need something versatile. You could do chair/bed/couch tricep dips, push ups, and even curls and presses (if you have a small resistance band). For lower body you could do single leg split squats (with your leg on a chair), body weight squats, lunges, wall sits, etc. The key is to move quickly and keep your heart rate up.
- Blue Collar Worker: Since you’re already pretty active by the nature of your work, a great addition to your routine would be to wear a weight vest or ankle weights while you work to amplify your resistance and results.
- White Collar Worker: Since the nature of your work is more sedentary, you would benefit from getting up once every hour to do at least 5 minutes of some activity. We usually think exercise has to be in the form of a 60 minute gym session, but you could actually split it up throughout the day into 5 minute micro sessions at your desk.
- Stay At Home Mom: In between chasing your kids or running errands, you would benefit from light stretching or yoga. Sometimes less is more when it comes to weight loss and reducing stress can be really helpful, especially during the holidays.
- Stay At Home Dad: You could do isometrics (wear you push against the wall, or do a plank). Isometrics are a tried and true method for building strength and strength endurance (which is important if you want to bulletproof your joints and prevent injuries while gaining muscle).
Tip #2: Manage Your Carbs
To understand how to lose weight we have to first understand why we gain weight. And although calories in vs. calories burned plays a role, one of the largest and most overlooked factors is the role of insulin in weight gain.
When we eat proteins and fats we don’t really spike insulin levels, but when we eat carbohydrates (especially the high glycemic, processed kind) we spike our insulin and signal the brain to store energy in the form of fat.
Our liver can hold about 100 grams of carbs and our skeletal muscle stores about 300-500 grams (in the form of glycogen). And during the holidays, most people are consuming much more than this, while reducing their activity level, creating the perfect storm for your body to store the excess.
So try to stick with slow digesting carbohydrates such as squashes and sweet potato, and try to fill up on cruciferous vegetables, greens, meats, good fats, etc. These will keep your insulin in check which will help keep your weight in check.
Also, if you are going to drink alcohol, try to limit yourself to two drinks per festivity.
Here are some specific tips depending on your body type:
- Ectomorph (I Type): You tend to be taller and skinner naturally, and have a higher tolerance to carbs. You will do best with a ratio of about 55% carbs, 20% protein and 25% fats in your diet.
- Endomorph (O Type): You tend to have a naturally slower metabolism, are more susceptible to weight gain, and have a lower tolerance to carbs. You will do best with a ratio of about 30% carbs, 35% protein and 35% fats in your diet.
- Mesomorph (M Type): You tend to be more muscular naturally, and have a moderate tolerance to carbs. You will do best with a ratio of about 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats in your diet.
Tip #3: Sleep Smarter
Everyone knows they need to eat well and exercise more in order to get fit. But few people talk about the other side of the equation which is recovery. In order to keep your metabolic furnace burning hot and your muscles growing, you need to manage your sleep.
And most of the time, the easiest place to begin is your sleep hygiene. Sure, you want to try and limit caffeine intake (especially past 2pm), but the things that are really wrecking your sleep are:
- Electronics – Digital devices such as your TV, Computer, and Smartphone emit primary light in the blue wavelength part of the spectrum, which makes your brain think you’re constantly jet lagged even though you haven’t travelled anywhere (except for maybe to the fridge). Try limiting the use of electronics, use the F.lux app on your computer, add a blue blocking screen protector to your smartphone, and even try wearing blue blocking glasses in the evening.
- Temperature – The ideal sleep temperature is 68-72 degrees F. So if your room is too hot, your body is going to have a hard time entering the deeper, more restorative states of sleep. I also really like devices like the ChiliPad or BedJet which can control your bed climate really easily throughout the night.
- Light – Absolutely darkness is best for telling your brain it is time to get into a deep sleep. Try wearing a sleep mask to make sure no light is getting to the eyes.
Give these tips a try and let me know how it helped you during your crazy holiday festivities!
To your gains,
Kusha Karvandi, PES, CES, CSCS