With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead, it can get tougher and tougher to stay on track to maintain our dream physiques. Whether you're simply maintaining your summer body or trying to get on the wagon before the crowd takes over in January, this post is for you. Keep in mind these are just tips and guidelines, and are not a replacement for your doctor's advice. Always consult with your physician before beginning any new diet or exercise plan.
Be Strategic with Cheat Meals
Most likely, whether you just started on your program, you have a nutrition and exercise plan that you must follow. Whether you're a bodybuilder, an off-season competitor, an athlete, or a power lifter, consistency is the key to success and we all have a routine we follow. No matter what school you're a part of ("bro" diet, IF/IIFYM, paleo, etc.) you have probably heard of cheat meals, meaning any meal that's not on that plan that usually involves eating an excess of calories in one sitting. People use cheat meals all different kinds of ways, and during the holidays thanks to tons of parties and feasts it can be easy to make every other meal a "cheat." In general a cheat meal should be used post workout after a particularly strenuous session or after a body part you really want to build up - like if you have weaker shoulders, a cheat meal is best enjoyed after your delt workout. Eating extra calories after a tough workout will shuttle needed nutrients to the fatigued muscles you just shredded, helping them grow. Even if you don't do it that way, eating lightly the rest of the week around a big upcoming feast like Thanksgiving will keep your body from storing the calories as fat. Remember, weight loss,gain, and maintenance is all about calories in versus calories out, so depending on what your calorie totals are by the end of each week determines if you lose, gain, or maintain your weight for that week.
A discussion about alcohol and its effects on the body would take up several blog posts, but it's something trainers get a lot of questions about. In general alcohol in moderation is not a terrible thing although no one can seem to agree what "moderation" means - some say a nice glass (about 4-6 oz.) of wine every evening has been proven beneficial in some studies. Typically staying away from high sugar cocktails or choosing red or dry white wines over sweet are safe choices. Frequently drinking or getting completely wasted every weekend at each holiday party you're invited to will wreck your body, and no amount of dieting or exercise will compensate for it - use your best judgment and be sure to hydrate more than normal when imbibing.
Make a Mistake? Get Right Back on Plan
Maybe you let a cheat meal turn into a cheat day. Don't let that turn into a cheat week or a cheat month! One bad meal will not undo all your hard work, just like one "clean" meal won't make you instantly healthy. It's all about good habits and consistency, so if you fall off the wagon, don't give up. Don't wait til Monday or New Year's. Start right back up on your plan, and keep going no matter how many mistakes you make. At the same time, don't punish yourself for those mistakes either - we all make them and it is damaging to starve yourself or overdo cardio because of something "bad" you ate. Just take it as a lesson and move on. If you take nothing else from this post remember - consistency is key.
"In fitness, there are no shortcuts. It involves immense discipline and hard work."
There is so much information out there and it can seem very overwhelming, especially when you're surrounded by temptation this holiday season. The crew at Phenom Fitness are here to support you on your fitness journey no matter what your goals may be. You can contact us on here, at our gym in person, on our facebook or on Instagram @phenomfitnessnc with questions or if you need help getting started!