The holiday season is here, and that means major disruptions to your training and nutrition program. Here are some tips on how to maintain your holiday hardbody during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The holidays are joyful, but they come with a price. Travel, stress, and family gatherings featuring high-fat food and beverages can impact your bodybuilding gains. You don’t want to negatively impact a year of effort with seasonal indulgences.
Don’t worry—you can have your fruitcake and eat it too (we don’t actually suggest you eat fruitcake). Here are a few tips on surviving the holidays with your physique intact and Christmas spirit soaring.
- Plan your workout options.
If you’re traveling out of town, investigate the local gyms where you’re staying. See if your regular health club has affiliates nearby, or maybe a friend or family member can invite you as a temporary guest to their facility. If you know where to go beforehand, you’ll be able to sneak in a workout when you have the opportunity.
- Keep healthy finger snacks handy.
There’s going to be cookies, cakes, and other fattening treats everywhere. Keep raw nuts, fruits, jerky, protein bars, and other tasty snacks around as alternatives.
- Load up on protein shakes, low-calorie beverages, or soups before big meals and parties.
Remember this phrase: Never arrive hungry! Huge meals and tasty party buffets are regular holiday traditions. You can join in the fun, but you don’t have to shovel down the food to be a good guest. Fill your stomach with a nutrient-rich protein shake, a glass of water, or other low-calorie fare before the event. Usually, these holiday spreads have veggie options (almost always untouched) next to the high-fat cold cuts. Gravitate to those. Use common sense and a bit of willpower. You’ll get your fill without being a party pooper.
- Practice portion control, eat slowly, and avoid second helpings.
Watch how you fill your plate at big meals. Don’t load it up. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This helps you fill up at a gradual pace while others are gobbling down their first and second helpings. Don’t sweat the turkey, as this tasty bird has 26.2 g of protein and only 117 calories in a 3 oz. serving (according to eatturkey.com). Think of this as a social event, not a feast. Engage in conversation and take your time.
- Cheat smart.
Indulge in your favorite holiday foods—but decide how much you’re going to eat and stick with it. Be goal oriented. If you drink, set a limit of only one or two drinks at a party to avoid excess calories from alcohol. Do the same thing with foods or snacks. Set a goal of one time through the buffet line and that’s it.
- Swap your regular workouts for circuit training and HIIT routines.
The holidays can place a lot of demands on our time. When you do get a chance to exercise, do a workout designed for maximum results in a short time span. High-intensity interval (HIIT) workouts are a great option if you have only 20-30 minutes. HIIT training are great calorie burners. Even sprint intervals on a street or backyard can be surprisingly effective. Or do a weight circuit, lifting lower poundages than usual without rest between sets and reps. If you have to stay inside, invest in a set of exercise bands, or do bodyweight workouts in your room. Anything is better than nothing.
- Take your vitamins.
You can’t avoid every indulgence. Make sure your body’s immune system and nutrient demands are met. Nutritional insurance doesn’t get any better than Old School Labs’ Vintage Base multivitamin-mineral. Not only does Vintage Base give you the important seasonal nutrients—zinc, vitamin C, B12, etc.—but it provides probiotics as well. These probiotic strains are crucial in helping boost your immune system to fight off germs from all of that travel and socializing. Your digestive systems will benefit as well. No matter how hard you try, you will be eating and drinking more than usual, so be prepared. Take Vintage Base and cover your bases.
- Don’t stress. Let yourself have fun.
Stress makes you fat, and the holidays often increase stress. Not only does travel affect your body, but pressure from family gatherings can bring on stress, increasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is catabolic and can increase body fat. Find ways to decrease stress using meditation, deep breathing, or other calming technique that works for you. And don’t be afraid of having a piece of pumpkin pie a la mode with your friends and family. Give yourself permission to have fun. You’re only human. Do your best.
Here’s something you can try that’s a healthy twist on a holiday favorite. Yes, you can make an eggnog for bodybuilders! Merry Christmas!
Try this protein-rich Eggnog Protein Shake
2 scoops (45 g) whey protein powder (vanilla flavor)
3 oz egg whites
12 oz nonfat milk (preferably organic)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of allspice (optional)
4 small ice cubes
In a blender, add egg whites, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ice cubes. Pulse for a few seconds, then switch to the purée setting. While puréeing, remove lid and slowly add protein powder. Pour into a chilled glass and enjoy. Yields one 22-oz shake. Happy and healthy holidays!
Protein: 51.5 g
Carbohydrate: 22.5 g
Fat: 3.3 g
Are you ready for the holidays? How do you keep your fitness goals in mind while enjoying the Christmas and New Year’s social gatherings? Tell us your tips below.