Thanksgiving has come and gone, what has your waistline done? One of the easiest ways to tell if you have put on some unwanted lbs is how you look and feel in your clothing and NOT from what the scale tells you. It might seem simple enough to just hop on a scale and see the needle squeeze past a bad number reminiscent of the fiscal cliff but the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. The scale in fact is an evil demon created to destroy the willpower and self confidence of people silly enough to use it. You aren’t silly are you?
Sorry, I’m all done with the insults. But really, using the scale is stupid.
A scale is good for those that are….well never mind because a scale is only good for a doctor’s office so that you aren’t overprescribed a medication dosage. Your body varies weight naturally during the day based upon things such as diet, water intake/hydration, exercise and injury thus causing the scale readings to fluctuate. If you remember that diet is a noun and not a verb then you understand the principles behind weight loss through proper diet modification and exercise and you aren’t taken asunder with the readings from the evil scale. This time of year should be no different; (well if you don’t take into account all the food, shopping and bustle associated with glad tidings) however the holidays are one of those times when normally sensible people throw out all common sense in order to enjoy copious amounts of food and drink. To hell with the workout routine, I’m eating these cream puffs!
The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are what we call the “Dark Days of Diet and Exercise”. Most people have given up on diet and exercise because of all the extra items on their to-do lists, the never-ending holiday gatherings and traditionally enormous table fare you find when the entire family gathers around the dining room to celebrate. This also helps lead us to put training on hold until the New Year because of another silly holiday tradition: The New Year resolution. I hear people say all the time “Well there is nothing I can do this time of year, so I’m not going to fight the food cravings anymore”. What we don’t realize is that this time of year doesn’t have to be a diet and exercise black hole by making a few simple changes that anyone can do. And really, you think that if you can’t make it through Christmas without adhering to healthy lifestyle choices and still stand a chance for the other 364 days of another year? Silly again.
But first, how do you really tell if you are going in the wrong direction?
Here are ways to measure progress in order of efficacy:
- Hydrostatic weighing
- Visual cues by clothing
- Electrical impedance (I don’t trust those things no how)
While some of these might sound extreme for the given situation (there are those that start prepping for bodybuilding, fitness and figure competitions for the coming year) but unless you have something to gauge progress, you just strand yourself at sea trying to paddle upwind and into the current of food and debauchery.
Another point to mention is that it’s not always foods that does a person in, but rather drink. The American Council on Exercise created this handy PDF to show just how many calories that some adult libations normally consumed during festivities have.
How to change the Holiday Habit
Family gatherings and office parties seem to give everyone a get out of jail free card; People tend to be followers and if the majority of the people you spend time with are off the wagon, it is more likely you will join them simply because of social acceptance. Where you might have only planned to have 1 or 2 adult beverages and some healthy finger food, now you have 4-5 drinks and the dessert table starts not looking so evil, so off you go. Next thing you know you have devoured 3 pieces of cheesecake, 12 chocolate Chip Cookies and half a pumpkin pie.
First, the diet
Eating is of course necessity, and should be done out of necessity 99% of the time. I do believe that one should be able to enjoy this time of year and all the goodies that come along with it but only in moderation. Just like a normal diet during the week, you should be allowed to cheat every so often. It is good for the body and soul. Set goals for yourself if heading to a party, plan a time to leave and then adjust your intake accordingly. If you are driving of course it is best not to drink at all however to not acknowledge the fact that most people will have a libation with friends would be imprudent.
Safe guidelines for drinking as set by the Surgeon General:
In the U.S.
the Surgeon General has decreed that it is O.K. ……..
- For men to have no more than two drinks per day.
- For women to have no more than one drink per day.
WHAT IS MEANT BY A DRINK? One drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. From http://www.the-alcoholism-guide.org/moderate-drinking-guidelines.html .
We know that most people exceed these levels on a daily basis let alone a holiday party, but let’s analyze festive drinking for a second. Say you go to a party that starts at 7 and is over at 12. That is 5 hours of fun that can lead to a binge. To overcome this, one of the things you could do is eat before the party. This will help slow down the absorption of the alcohol and will help create satiety so that you don’t wander over to the dessert table too often.
Second would be to show up a little late to the shindig which of course will minimize the actual time you have to spend there; this in turn limits your intake of food and alcohol.
Third would be to drink a bottle of water for every 2 alcoholic beverages. Not only will this help keep you hydrated, but by making yourself consume water in between 2 drinks is better than in between each drink. Why? Well, most people drink socially to loosen up, but if you drank water after each beverage you don’t really get the full effect. Plus, who wants to go potty all night long.
Fourth would be to limit the types of drinks you have as well as the quantity. If you plan on drinking liquor you have to keep in mind that since it usually has less volume to alcohol % than most beers or wines, liquor can sneak up on you. Make sure not to switch beverages either, though you could start out with a nice 24 year old aged scotch and finish on a few beers but stick to the rule: liquor before beer you are in the clear, beer before liquor never sicker. You still have to drive home right?
With all the Christmas shopping, kids out of school and holiday travel plans, it is easy to get out of your workout regimen. The most common excuse people give during the rest of the year is usually time restraint, but during the holidays this becomes even truer. There are some simple workarounds for this; you just have to get yourself in the right frame of mind. Once you finally realize that there is only 1 workout, your life will improve because you know the principles that create the methods, therefore giving you the power to create your own. You can train anywhere at anytime with anything. The best part about training and writing workouts for people is that you can get creative. Monkey bars anyone?
First thing you could do is set a goal each day for an exercise or set of exercises. An example would be that each day you have to complete 50 push-ups, 50 leg levers and 50 squats. To be creative, you could get out a calendar and write a program based on the day of the month. Not only does this give you visual reminders but it can give you a sense of accomplishment seeing it written and “checked off”. You can even create an associated reward based on performance. You trained today therefore you get an extra half drink tonight.
If you have a dog, you can take the dog for a walk/run. This is even good for smaller dogs that cannot run for long distances; you just have to be careful not to step on them. If you live in a colder climate and this isn’t always possible, you can run stairs in your house, run in place in your living room, or jump rope in your garage. Everyone can afford a pair of Fit Decks and a jump rope. And let’s not forget about for the mobile technologically inclined- there is even a mobile solution for that now and tons of apps for smartphones that will give you random of planned exercises.
If you have access to weights either in a gym or at home, you can even follow along with the not so daily workout here on paincavefitness.com. The main point is to set aside some time each day, either in the morning before your day gets started (there is nothing like an am workout), try a lunchtime training session, do some pushups at 5o’clock each day (thanks to the Jason Ellis Show) or round up your evening with “cardio” in the bedroom.
Keep it real, Keep it simple, because it’s really simple.