Christmas is amazing! An entire festive season dedicated to food porn! Work has ended for the year, you’re completely burnt out and ready for some R&R!
It’s time for drinks and dinners with friends and family and long, lazy feasts! So what’s not to love right?
This is a very necessary time of year for many to keep their sanity and even the most dedicated gym buffs can see their regular daily sweat sesh’ turn into a bi-weekly sweaty mess!
Now, whilst this is excellent for a mental break from the rat race, and a training deload can often be just what the doctor ordered, there is still a big elephant left in the room that needs addressing!
And we all know what it is too...It's the new found Christmas pudding! No, not the delicious cake version, but instead, the inevitable bodyweight gain that comes with decreased calorific expenditure (moving less) and increased caloric intake (eating more)!
You know...That spare tyre making your new jeans you got from Santa feel that little bit too tight? Yeah, that pudding...
The festive season can really be unrelenting with its assault on your waistline!
But wait, we have only just finished discussing Christmas, what about the rest of the festive season?
Well... the indulgences generally continue and December becomes the New Year’s twilight period for more drinks and food and before you know it you are more than a few kilos out of your comfort zone!
ENTER THE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION FAD DIETS!
You jump on to trusty old Doctor Google, flock to your nearest health food shops and scour the local grocer for every last skerrick of Kale, apple cider vinegar, the latest ‘superfood’ (seems to be a new fruit or vegetable every year like clockwork) and grab a Diet Coke at the check out to kick off your 'new year new you' diet!
So what’s the game plan?
- Food - ZERO calories for as long as you can stand it.
- Exercise - Hours on the treadmill and of course no weights, because everyone knows cardio burns more fat right?
- Resolution - Lose half your body weight in a 6-week challenge.
But... how successful are these new years resolutions really? I mean, if they were, we wouldn't have an abundance of them year after year after year, would we?
How it goes down - The Wrong Way 101
These noble intentions of self-improvement are admirable and will steer you straight through the rocky first week as your body depletes its Glycogen (stored carbohydrates).
You lose the token 1-2kg in the first week as glycogen levels drop (glycogen is carbs + water) and you are more motivated than ever!
You enter the second week with a buzz and you are off to a cracking start with those huge numbers dropped!
Fast forward a fortnight and you’ve successfully depleted any resemblance of a carbohydrate (which you cut from your diet in the first week of course) and you are now literally feeling like a walking zombie.
4 weeks in of non-existent calories...
Morning and afternoon jog's day in day out...
The deprivation of all of life’s simple pleasures has left you feeling like death!
You start thinking maybe having that extra body fat wasn’t all that bad!
The challenge crawls to an end with you salivating over Krispy Kremes at the local 7/11 for what feels like years in its final weeks!
You've achieved great weight loss, you’re down several kilos and now it’s time to reward yourself with a weekend ‘cheat meal’.
And how GOOD does that cheat meal taste?
Then...Before you know it, a cheat meal becomes a cheat weekend and a cheat weekend becomes a cheat week.
Your training output comes to a halt, your food intake goes through the roof and your motivation to get 'back on the bandwagon' subsides.
The weight you lost begins to creep back up, your body is soaking up all of the extra carbohydrates you're feeding it and those positive results you achieved in 6 weeks begin to slowly disappear.
Was it all for nothing?
Well, let's, delve a little deeper and look at the smarter approach.
How It Should Go Down - The Right Way
So what happened here was a classic combination of:
- Over restricting of calories,
- Elimination of most food groups,
- Cutting carbs from the get-go,
- Cardio as your only form of exercise and too much of it!
Instead, this is what it SHOULD look like…
- Gradual decrease in calories with a moderate caloric deficit,
- Mix of predominantly resistance training and only minor cardiovascular exercise as an additional means to burn calories and make you healthy,
- A nutrient dense meal plan with a good mix of healthy fats, plenty of protein and a sufficient amount of low glycaemic carbohydrates to leave the tank full for intense weight sessions!
- A sustainable longer-term goal for your body composition that makes a dedicated effort not to yo-yo diet but rather steady progress over months with nutrition as the cornerstone of your efforts.
In a nutshell, your new year's fitness resolution should be focused on finding BALANCE.
Nutritional, physical and social balance!
Take Home - The Bigger Picture
In an ideal world, we would all be diligent year-round in focusing on maintaining our health with a nutrient dense, high protein diet that leaves us feeling healthy, craving-free and energetic.
We would control our binges over festive periods to a few occasions and keep training on schedule around these fun occasions so that the two can exist mutually and allow both social and training goals to be achieved while keeping you in shape year round!
But...We are human and life isn’t a perfect case scenario every time, so if you can’t keep these principles going in life that is completely fine!
But please don’t just fall into the New Years Resolution crash diet scheme as you don’t need the heartache!
And trust me when I say that Krispy Kremes taste all the sweeter when you have them as part of a calorie controlled, nutrient dense diet that allows for life’s little pleasures more often than just after a fad diet!
Remember... Find the balance!