Tis’ the season – Your 2017 festive season cheat sheet It’s a tough time for fitness and nutrition everywhere. Christmas is right around the corner – food comas are inevitable. December marks the beginning of the holiday festive season, endless parties, late nights, eating, and drinking, to say the least. Cap it off with New Year celebrations and you have a deadly combo that could potentially ruin all of your year’s hard work in the gym. Now is the best time to start thinking about how to stay on track. Let’s walk through what we believe to be some of the best things you can do to avoid the unneeded weight gain and loss of muscle from the holiday season. Relax, enjoy the holidays First and foremost we must not forget that these are holidays, and you will have some meals that are unneeded, you will miss some workouts and you may drink a little more than expected. This is by no means the end of the world. You can work this off, but being conscious of the situation you are in can help dampen the negative effects of holiday struggles. Don’t punish yourself for having a slice of that ever so dreamy Pavlova. Enjoy the season, enjoy the company, and enjoy the break. With that in mind, try your best to limit the junk food. As a rule of thumb trick to around 10 total junk meals throughout the holiday season. Party Food Perhaps the easiest way to stay on track is to cook a dish for the party. It can be difficult to make healthy choices when the entire table is filled with fatty, sugary foods. Do yourself a favour and cook a meal to bring. In this way, you know that every party you go to will have some food that will help you stay on track. Most times, these parties are filled with high carb, high-fat foods with limited sources of protein (besides the turkey). The easiest way to make a dish to bring that will not only feed you but plenty of others is to get your slow cooker, fill it with meat and veggies – making a basic stew or curry to name a few. It will taste great, keep you on track and I bet some of your relatives will thank you for the healthy option. Construct a balanced plate Most of the time people run into issues because they don’t make a pate that has a balanced level of macros – the body does not respond well in this way. Next time you’re at a holiday party, try starting with some low-fat protein, then load the plate with veggies. Your plate should be close to being filled and the remainder should fall to some starches; sweet potato, potato, pumpkin, squash, etc. This is the same plate you would make if you were meal prepping – eating on holidays should be no different. Control Sugar Cravings Ahh, the smell of warm apple pie. Cinnamon fills the air, and sugar swarms the heart. Control the craving for high sugar foods. This is the stuff that will turn back your workout clock and pack on the pounds. Unless you plan to run a mile after every cookie you eat, you’ll need to limit the amount. As stated before there is nothing wrong with a small indulgence – but keep it small and keep it to one serving. If the sugar is pulling you back for more. One trick, try eating a small portion of protein or veggies after your first serving of dessert – in this way you will settle your sugar cravings with healthy alternatives. If the craving is still there, continue to eat the protein and veggies. Travel days – Be prepared The reality of the holidays is that you will need to travel. In most cases, the best thing you can do is be prepared. If you are not prepared and you’re waiting for a plane or a bus – this is the time that you will look for a fast-food option. Do yourself a favour, head to a local supermarket and stock up on low-calorie, high protein meats and veggies. Products like Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bars, Quest Bars, Peak Chocolate, Just Jerky are great snacks and can be used to settle the cravings and provide sustained energy throughout the day. Keep moving It can be difficult to find a local gym when you’re visiting family and friends. One of the ways I try to stay active is just by moving. Need to go to the store, no problem – start walking. Have a dog that needs to be walked – volunteer. Your goal during the holiday season is to keep the muscles primed and ready for when you’re back to training. Chances are you won’t have the opportunity to lift heavy 3-4 times a week, but you might be able to crush some Tabata style workouts every other day. Set a timer every morning and do 15-20mins of basic exercises; pushups, rows, lunges, leg raises etc. Maybe you have a nagging injury you’ve always wanted to work on – this is the perfect time to deload and work on mobility for a couple weeks. The most important aspect of staying on track for the holiday season is to stay conscious of everything going on around you. Keep your meals clean, limit the junk food, and stay active whenever possible – even if it means doing pushups before your morning shower ?