Scott McDermott Sylvan Lake News Columnist

A holiday eating survival guide

This isn’t a ‘bah humbug’ letter. I enjoy Christmas treats probably more than anyone.

This isn’t a ‘bah humbug’ letter. I enjoy Christmas treats probably more than anyone, but why have this one season ruin your next six months by gaining 20 pounds?

What if you started with a plan so you could still enjoy this time of year but not regret it? Let’s be honest the holiday season may as well be called: ‘weight gain season’. It runs from the end of October until New Year’s.

All it takes is a two part plan for you to get through it with some self respect and pants that still fit.

Step One: Plan to Exercise

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We always see the same pattern at our gym. The weather gets cold and blustery out. We get super busy. Then as the ‘holiday season’ gets ever closer, the numbers drop. What if you did something differently and make exercise a priority? Schedule it in. Let’s be honest: promising yourself isn’t enough, so set yourself up to win.Partner up. Get a good friend, someone who is enthusiastic and a strong supporter. Arrange to meet for a set time and place for each workout, with consequences if you miss. Make sure you have common goals and are encouraging one another. It’s best if you are at similar fitness levels too. Make a set of rules such as if you miss a meet up; you donate money to a charity or lose points in a contest. Maybe you have to put money in a jar and the one with the most points at the end, wins the jar.

Even better join a boot camp or class series. You can sit at home by yourself with a tablet, but training on your own is not for everyone and it’s counter intuitive. Human beings are social animals. A strong support system like boot camps will be there and be happy. Every class is so motivating. The instructor will make sure you get a great workout and all you have to do is show up.

If you really want to dig in and get great results, start working one on one with a personal trainer. It’s their job and passion to make sure you stay on target and survive the weight gain season.

Step Two: Your Eating Plan

You are going to be presented with dozens of opportunities to indulge and eat more calories than you could ever burn off. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a few things here and there, but eating until you are in pain is not going to serve you in January. Ask yourself this: What’s more uncomfortable sticking with just a few treats or having to face a 20 pound weight gain in the new year?

Heading to a party? Bring some healthy fruits, veggies or nice centerpieces to the party this year instead of baking three dozen treats and taking half of them home to eat yourself. As soon as you get to the party, start drinking water (maybe add some cranberries or lemon), and snack on veggies (it’s nearly impossible to over eat raw veggies) so your hands are busy. You will be less likely to grab the heavy calorie foods. When you get to the buffet line, load up on veggies, greens, and some lean meats first to fill your plate. Then have a few little taste samples of the heavy foods like stuffing and gravy. Again, drink water with your meal.

Remember that alcohol has seven calories per gram, nearly double that of carbs and protein and nearly as much as fat. Enjoy, but keep it limited.

If you are like me, eggnog is a problem. It’s yummy, but so loaded with calories. As are all of the fancy coffees, lattes and holiday drinks. Go easy on that stuff. Stick with hot apple cinnamon tea or coffee with some stevia in it instead of sugar. You aren’t going to be able to avoid all of the treats and maybe you don’t want to be that one person who won’t join in on the eating. So here’s the plan: have one treat. See how long you can take to eat it. Can you make it last five minutes? Ten? Your host will see you several times with a treat in hand and assume you are just like everyone else, popping them in every five seconds at 200-400 calories each. One treat equals 30 minutes of burpees, so choose wisely.

You just have to decide what happens to you this season: a few extra training sessions to burn off some fun or a 20 pound weight gain that will be with you for months, possibly even years. Remember, we have been conditioned to indulge, it’s in our genetics our ancestors were trying to get as fat as possible to survive winter in a cave. You are not in that situation, so you need a plan to resist the urge to fatten up for January. Stay strong.

Be the one who swims upstream, avoids the crowd and bucks the trend. Be the example of how to life a full and healthy life, instead of conforming and complaining with everyone else.

Happy Training!



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