Holiday Nutrition

Holiday Nutrition

By Mike Sayers

Many of us go into the Holidays knowing that coming out of the Holidays, our well-conditioned bodies may be a bit less well conditioned. The Holidays are a special time of year, and we should be spending time with friends and family. Often times, that means extra meals out, sweet and tasty treats and a few extra cocktails or glasses of wine. We work hard all year to maintain our fitness. We pedal, run, lift and plank our way to the best fitness we can achieve. Then the Holidays season rolls around and undoes all our hard work.  We eat too much, drink too much and don’t sleep enough. It is the season of burning the candle at both ends. So, what can we do to stay on track and not lose all that hard work to that sumptuous, Santa shaped, sugar cookie with the eggnog chaser?

First, relax. Know going in that there will be parties to attend, turkeys to eat and friends to visit, so give yourself a break, and enjoy this joyous season. Second, make some goals followed by a plan of attack going into the Season. Try strategies like mixing in a glass of water with every glass of holiday cheer, load the buffet plate with salad and then return for the main course.  Three, keep moderation in mind. Try things like keeping that buffet plate to one level and not a 3-story condo. A great little trick is to have a little something to eat before you hit that Holiday party. Maybe a simple bowl of cereal or a bowl of soup or even a protein shake to half fill the tank and take the edge off that hunger. The rule, “don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach’, also applies to the “attending the Holiday party” scenario.

Finally, just say no to sauce…gravy, we are talking to you! Try and go light or sans gravy or heavy sauces , which are caloric bombs blanketing that perfectly roasted turkey. Shade toward less prime rib and more white meat turkey, and try and set a cocktail number you feel is realistic. You can always go soda water and lime as the evening winds down. Here are some generalized numbers to consider:

  • A 1.5-ounce drink of distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol) is 98 calories.
  • A 12-ounce pint of regular beer (5 percent alcohol) is about 150 calories.
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine (12 percent alcohol) is about 120 calories.

These are general numbers, but they will give you a great starting point to plan your evening.

As for rest, the Holiday season is a time of year full of extracurricular activity from evenings at the Nutcracker to the traditional office party. Try and steal a bit of nap if you know the fun will go deep into the winter night, or just modify your training a bit by doing less volume and maybe a bit more intensity. Try and work your off days into your post party plans because waking up with a bit of hangover and then trying to rip out that 4-hour ride won’t do you or your training any good. Schedules are always flexible.

Stress Getting extra rest will also help with inevitable stress of the Holiday Season. Extra family, extra travel and work deadlines all add up to extra stress. Make sure you manage that stress by keeping your basic workout routine going. Some exercising is better than no exercising, and it can be the perfect escape or release from that crowded day at the mall. Recruit some friends or family and do an indoor workout together and kill two birds with one stone.

At the end of the day, like everything in life, moderation is key.  The Holidays are for fun, and they are a very special time of year, so enjoy those special moments. Go to the parties, have a great time, and know that when New Years is over, it will be time to get back to work. Personally, I always try to run a “dry January” to get it all back on track and salad becomes my meal of choice. Worst case scenario, giving up a day of training or two is not the end of the world, and your family and friends will thank you later.