2016 is almost over, and it looks like it'll not be remembered with any great fondness by many. The deaths of Prince and David Bowie, the apparent rise is extremist politics and the Body Coach, it's just not been great. So at this late stage, it can be tempting to get into the party season, and end the year as quickly as possible and try and pick up the pieces in January and hope for a bright 2017. There is, however a slight problem with this. First of all, Brexit hasn't actually happened yet, and Donald Trump has not be sworn in as the President of the US of A, so things are not likely to improve on that score. As for beloved celebrities that we can't live without, the Queen is not getting any younger, neither is David Attenborough, so don't get too optimistic for a happy new year. With my prohecies of doom, do you really want to be carrying an extra few pounds into the new year as well?
But before I get into my tips for avoiding this holiday season weight gain, we should look at why is it important, and just how much should we worry about a pound or two of holiday weight?
First up, research suggests that the total amount of weight gained over the winter in general is not huge, despite what you may have read in the press, so you hopefully won't go up a whole dress size, however, the problem is that the weight that is gained typically then stays there. This seems to be a significant contributing factor to our expanding waist lines as we age.
So what to do about it? I like to keep things simple, so I just have 3 tips that should keep you pretty much covered:
1. Make a Choice
If you ask any trainer, nutritionist or coach what is the most important factor that underpins what happens to us physically, they'll generally say the same thing, that it all starts with the mindset. Believe it or not, whilst we are bombarded by external (and internal) stimuli, cues and influences, ultimately the decisions we make are ours. So the first decision to make, before any others is this: Do I want to really want to climb into the Christmas spirit and eat drink and be merry (and gain fat), or do I want to get, or stay lean? This is not an emotive or judgmental question, it's absolutely fine if you want to eat all the celebrations in the office, get drunk at your staff party, girlfriend's staff do, uni friend's get together, girlfrend's friends's drinks, 5 a side team's curry night, school friend's annual get together and really enjoy yourself, just like Jesus would have wanted. It's ok, it's just that there are consequences, such as gaining a small amount of fat.
If, however, you decide that you don't wish to gain weight, read on. I should say this, before people think that staying lean means being miserable, it doesn't, lean and fit people are not unhappy, far from it, that''s why they don't become lean and then go "hey, you know what, this is shit, I'm going to go back to being fat, it's so much more fun"
So first things first, make a choice, decide what you want over the next few weeks, a small amount of discipline and no weight gain, or no discipline and starting January bigger than you are when you are reading this blog..
2. Just Say No
As I said earlier, you are in control of your hand to mouth choices. This does mean that at some point you are going to have to say to people at work "no thank you, I don't want to eat any of your mince pies, festive brownies or celebrations". I know, it's difficult. Having a sweet tooth, and a crippling fear of offending people myself, I know how difficult this can be. Difficult, but not impossible, again, refer back to your original decision, did you want to gain weight or not? If not, then say no when offered things, if they persist, you persist, and if they won't take no for an answer, simply say "no thanks, the short term gain from not offending you and enjoying the sweets does not make it worth me getting fat, but feel free to enjoy them, I'm not stopping you." The great thing about this response, is that soon, not only will people stop offering you sweets, they'll probably stop talking to you full stop, enabling you to concentrate on cruising intagram and watching cat videos at work in peace.
3. Hit The Gym, Hard
If you are consuming some extra calories, why not put them to good use? Spend a bit more time in the weight room and use the extra nutrients to build some lean body mass. This will help to burn off those calories by the direct energy expenditure of the lifting, but will also speed up your metabolism to help you shift any of the weight you have gained when you go back to the leaner times in January.
The truth is, unless you have a modelling shoot, beach holiday or wedding in the next couple of weeks, it really is ok to enjoy Christmas and overindulge a bit. In all honesty, your current health and fitness is not likely to be defined by a couple of good or bad weeks either way, so gaining a pound or two, shouldn't be the end of the world, but you do have to consider whether or not you want face setting yourself back on any weight loss journey you might be on when January comes.
As for me, I live with the constant, but as yet unrealised fear of a sudden surprise beach trip, so I'll skip the mince pies and keep dreaming of the sun.