Holiday Eating- Your New Year’s Resolution Starts Today!

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‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The roast was now cooking for hours with care,

In hopes that we will have PLENTY to share.

The children were snacking and ignoring their sleds

As unhealthy habits took root in their heads.

Mom with her wine, and I with my beer

Had just had a toast for Holiday cheer.

One beer, two beer, three beer, four,

I might have to call in an order for more!

As I head to the restroom to relieve my bladder,

I noticed my reflection had grown much fatter.

I couldn’t believe it had happened so fast,

The last two months had been such a blast.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Holiday pies

Had really expanded and pushed out my thighs.

I began to think, “Where did it go wrong?”

When did my undies turn into a thong?!

Now it’s back to my diet and back to class,

Time to reshape and tighten that…..butt;)

So what can I do to avoid this next year?

Pick up a dumbbell and put down the beer!

We all love the holiday season. Family, friends, presents, vacation, good food and drinks…..What’s not to like?! Now ask yourself, are you the only one kicking those fitness goals to the curb until after the New Year? The answer is no….but I can tell you right now, if you wait until January 1st to make that New Year’s fitness resolution you will have waited too long.

It all comes down to some very simple math. We always talk about calories in vs. calories out, but let’s actually put this into perspective over the two month holiday season.

It all starts with Halloween. We buy a large surplus of candy for all of the “Trick or Treaters”, but we all know some of that candy finds its way into your diet! As the diet gets worse, we are less motivated to hit the gym and food log. A couple of little candy bars won’t make a huge difference, right? No, a few small candy bars will not affect your fat mass tremendously, but a few every day for 3 weeks straight will have you squeezing into your jeans like you’re Tommy Boy in Richard’s coat.

Let’s do the math for someone who is in calorie balance at about 2000 calories/day. One fun size snickers bar = 80 calories, no big deal right? Well since you bought 12 lbs of candy for Halloween it seems like 3 of those snickers are making their way into your diet each day. This goes on for 2 straight weeks. 80×3= 240calories, 240kcal x 14 days = 3,360 calories. We know that 3,500 calories = 1lb of fat mass. So if everything else (daily caloric expenditure and current diet) remains constant, you will have already gained about 1lb of fat mass only 2 weeks into November……and oops, can’t forget about all of the cider, doughnuts, and caramel apples! A doughnut here, a caramel apple there, will easily add up to a couple thousand calories in two weeks, bringing our current total to 1.5lbs of fat! What’s next?

By now, family and friends start to arrive from out of town for Thanksgiving. You are stuck entertaining guests, cooking meals, and watching kids; leaving “no” time for the gym! (At least that’s what you tell yourself). You had been working out 4 days per week and that suddenly drops to 0. You promise yourself to get right back into your workouts after Thanksgiving. You end up missing 8 total workouts that on average burn 450 calories / hour. There is another 3,600 calories unaccounted for…..about 1 more pound of fat.

Not only were you missing workouts, you were unable to food log due to the “complexity” of the meals being cooked. Without logging you accidently eat 2,500 calories instead of the allotted 2000 to remain in calorie balance. This happens for 12 of the 14 days. 12 x 500 (calorie surplus) = 6000 (or 1.7 lbs of fat mass). Notice how that was only for 12 of the 14 days….the other 2 days was your actual Thanksgiving parties, one for each side of the family. On those two days you decide to really splurge and eat 4000 calories each (easily done with the food choices on these days). This is another 4000 calories above balance, or another 1.15lbs of fat mass.

In our scenario, after Halloween, Thanksgiving, and after missing your workouts your grand total is approximately 5.4lbs of fat….and it’s only December 1st! Do I have you running for the treadmill yet?

Now you’ve promised yourself that you would get back to the gym, but since you’ve been out of your routine all motivation is lost. You tell yourself, “After Christmas and after the kids go back to school (winter break) I will hit the gym hard. I’ll start January 1st!” Naturally, you take another 4 weeks off, still eating the 2500 calories because you are not logging. Four more weeks in a surplus of 500 calories/day = 14,000 calories or 4lbs of fat. Four weeks without working out = 16 missed workouts. 16 x 450 calories = 7,200 calories. 7,200 calories = 2.1 lbs of fat. Not logging and missing the gym for this month alone = 6.1lbs of fat!
Now don’t forget about the immediate family party, the extended family party and the company holiday party (all between December 20-25th) on which you hit another 3,500 calories/day….another 1.3lbs of fat. This brings our total for December to 7.4lbs of fat. Add the 5.4lbs from October and November and we have a GRAND TOTAL of 12.8lbs of fat mass! Remember, these numbers are based on an individual who has a 2000 calorie/day metabolism. If you are someone with a lower balance point these numbers could get even worse!

I think you will all agree that these types of choices are plausible and real for many people around the holidays. We see assessment after assessment in January that proves these very numbers! Don’t fall into the trap of normal holiday behavior. Make your fitness a priority! Food log, get in your workouts and plan ahead for large meals. It is simple, but only if you make it a priority! In our scenario (2000 calorie balance), even if you eat 5000 calories on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, you should only be up about 2.6lbs of fat if all else remains constant. If you budget for those days, meaning saving 500 calories/day the six days leading up to it (500 x 6 = 3,000) you would erase that calorie surplus completely! This means you would start the New Year up 0lbs of fat and you were still able to enjoy each Holiday party without worrying about calories for that specific day.

Easy? No… Feasible…Yes! Your New Year’s resolution starts today! By making this a priority and committing to this now you will avoid having a regrettable 12.8lbs of fat to lose to start the New Year. So keep your food logs coming and I will hold you accountable. You can thank me in January!

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