Each year in November, as the temperature drops, the days get shorter and the Holidays begin, many people fear they will sabotage everything they’ve worked for during the year in terms of health and any weight loss. They are afraid they’ll gain back 3-5 pounds and have to work again to get it off again in the New Year.
But, it doesn’t have to. This year, you can enjoy the Holidays and still maintain a lean weight. You can take a bit of a break from a heavy training load to allow mental and physical recovery, and stay lean without losing ground. Here’s how.
5 Stay-Lean Holiday Tips:
1) Find ways to incorporate lots of vegetables rather than going for winter “Comfort Foods.” Although vegetables and salads may seem like the stuff of summer, a great way to stay lean in the winter is to continue to load up your dinner plate with them year-round. It’s easy to gravitate toward warmer foods in the winter – and although a variety of cooked and fresh vegetables is great, it’s okay to depend on warmer cooked vegetables if needed in the winter. Why keep the veggies? There are many reasons to keep them as the stars of your dinner:
- Vegetables fill you up and help you control portions of the other foods. Vegetables add volume to your meal. Most people will eat a similar volume at meals, whether it’s of lower-calorie vegetables, high-carbohydrate foods, or calorie-laden, rich foods. So, if you’re trying to say lean, use this to your advantage and eat your veggies at dinner. Of course, this is not all you’ll eat. I recommend healthy protein sources, healthy fats, and vegetables at dinner for a balanced, satisfying meal while minimizing refined carbohydrates and grains.
- If cooked right, they are delicious. This recipe is a great example. If you don’t enjoy vegetables, you’re probably not preparing them or dressing them right…keep trying!
If you’re looking for a great cold-weather vegetable recipe, try this easy Delicious Spicy Broccoli Soup.
2) Eat like it’s a Holiday, only on the Holidays. Here’s your free pass: Eat whatever you’d like, without worry, on the actual Holidays you celebrate. Then, in terms of eating, treat all the days in between the Holidays as business as usual. This means healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, and a Light at Night” at dinner. To eat “Light at Night,” pile vegetables onto at least 50% of your dinner plate, add lean protein to the vegetables, skip the carbohydrates or grains, and be careful not to “drink” tons of extra calories in the form rich hot drinks, alcohol, or sugary drinks. In addition, it means choosing between dessert and alcohol, and then keeping this portion moderate. Again, on Holidays, eat like it’s a party. During the rest of the “Holiday Season,” enjoy the festivities without all the extra foods.
3) If you’re an athlete and usually add in extra foods for “training,” keep Training Nutrition and Daily Nutrition Separate especially if training decreases in the Winter. What do you get when you eat like you’re summer-training even when you’re not? You’ve guessed it; most athletes get unwanted pounds. At the heart of the issue is the idea that athletes can, and should, eat a certain way and non-athletes should eat another. I disagree.
I recommend that everyone eats a whole-food, low-processed, nourishing, healthy diet day to day. Athletes should not eat like they are at an all-you-can-eat-pasta-bar for carb loading when they are not, in fact, carb-loading. And even when choosing healthy carbohydrates, there is plenty of evidence that supports that over-eating carbs simply taxes our bodies, from hormone response to fat storage to heart disease.
Instead, eat a healthy diet day to day with a balance of whole-food carbohydrates, fats, and proteins at meals, and only add in training fuel when training longer than 90 minutes.
4) Stay as active as possible when you’re not training. Since there’s not as much need to recover between training sessions, stay lean by being more active overall. On Holidays, enjoy time with family and friends by playing football or other games outside together, going for walks, skiing or snow shoeing, and being active. Enjoy the foods, but also enjoy activities together.
5) If you do get off track, get right back on as soon as possible. Don’t push off goals, don’t wait for the New Year, and don’t let one day of poor eating turn into a week, a month, or a “season” of poor eating. How can you get back on track? Stop unhealthy eating in its tracks with an immediate day of extra “clean” eating. Focus on vegetables, and specifically celery, cucumber, and beets to help your body diurese extra fluids that are often retained after overeating salt and sugars. By making a clean break from unhealthy eating, you’ll have a great starting point from which to continue healthy eating. Try this Junk Food Overload Antidote Smoothie for a Clean Break if you overload on junk, or just simply overeat:
Place a 1 cup Spinach or Greens, 1 small apple (cored), 1 stalk celery, including leaves (1 stalk or rib, not entire bunch/head), ½ cucumber, ½ cup frozen or fresh berries, 6 ounces Greek yogurt or 1 scoop protein powder, and ½ cup water in a blender and process until smooth. Add water and ice as needed for desired consistency. Serve at once and enjoy.
The Holiday Season can be one of the best times of the year. And, you can keep it a healthy season, too. Follow these tips to stay lean while still enjoying the fun and festivities.
Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~
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