It’s that time of the year again, the season when everyone’s all for celebrating and that style of celebration means calories: food as far as the eye can see and alcoholic drinks simply loaded with sugar. It’s winter; further, it’s nearly Christmas. It makes you anxious just to think about facing all those gatherings – the canapés and the cocktails your partner has signed up for, the buffets and the beers your friends have regaled you into; not to mention Christmas Day itself and having to satisfy the chef by heartily enjoying the obscene amount of food dished up (it’s good, but gluttony was for your teenage years). How are you going to stay in shape? You’ve done well this year, really well. How is it, then, that one simple holiday season threatens to undo all of that?
Firstly, you don’t have to go crazy in the gym before each event. That’s how burnout happens. Fatigued muscles aren’t something to be taken lightly when you’re pumping iron, increased increment by slow increment (goals don’t just cease to exist because it’s Christmas, you know). Indeed, overestimate your ability, your energy and you’ve weakened yourself without realizing it, a tendon or muscle popping out of the blue once you’ve left the gym and are riding home on your Harley, the pain sending you off the road and to that Motorcycle Lawyer in San Diego you heard about. No – preparation is about more than the physical. It’s about the mental, too.
You pretty much know what you’re up against. There is an established, tried-and-tested menu for the holiday season, even at all those parties and buffets. Tell yourself beforehand what you will permit yourself to eat and what you will not; and don’t be persuaded otherwise. The obvious foods to avoid if you’re vehemently keen not to be derailed from your year-long toning and fat-loss progress are the sugars, and by extension the carbohydrates, as well as the full-fat dairy. Step away from the breadbasket, eat not the pasta salad, and definitely don’t dine on desert.
If all else fails and you find yourself emotionally blackmailed into coming away from your diet and overeating the wrong foods at the Christmas table (your parents always were sticklers for gratefulness of what’s on your plate – that’s why the mounds of mashed potatoes, the honey-sweet and butter-soaked carrots; not to mention the gargantuan slice of pecan pie), then change your thinking: you can’t undo what has been done. Instead, think of it as a natural hurdle presented to you for you to overcome, and hence become more fastidious in your training for next year. Without challenges, people become complacent. The holiday season is certainly an obstacle in the life of someone in training for a better, or ultimate, physique. Stay strong; allow yourself some fun. The gym and the diet will be waiting in the New Year, and you’ll be glad to get back to them.