Weight Gain over Xmas | How to Avoid Weight Gain over Xmas

The holiday season is here with the inevitable adding of pounds over Xmas.  Or will it? writes John Lark, personal trainer and founder of Sphere Fitness, Maynooth. In this guide, John outlines a few guidelines for ensuring you maintain the optimum balance between a healthy lifestyle and letting your hair down.

It is a funny time of year. On one hand you have party central station. Office parties, staff lunches and nights out. It can be relentless. You embrace this culture and suck it up. It only comes once a year.

On the other hand we become a little more health conscious. The New year is not that long away and if you go by the research, according to the scientific rigor of the Daily Mail, you will balloon faster than the Michelin Man on Steroids; 14 lbs over the Xmas period – at least;  6000 kcal on Xmas day; and our up most efforts to ‘fight’ this bulge. Weight gain is coming.

Everything hangs on a knife edge. Or does it? Here is my 6 step guide to get your head around this conundrum and avoid the Xmas weight gain.

There is little difference between 90 and 100% compliance

That’s right. 10% for all your crazy mensa-like-mathmaticians.

That 10%? That’s your night outs without losing your marbles and your waist line that has been holding up all year.

If you put it in perspective you have 21-28 meals per week to choose healthy, vibrant foods and drinks or not. 10% would give you 2-3 opportunities to let your hair down; have a dessert; a couple of drinks; eat a few treats.

My advice to avoid the weight gain? Know when you are going to be making choices that are less than ideal and the rest of the time stick to healthy, unprocessed, foods, drinks and exercise.

Enjoy yourself. What type of outcome are you looking for?

Are you looking to lose weight and yet have a social calendar that would make the Kardashians wince? The two are going to be fighting with one another creating more stress than you need. Park whatever goals you have. The big ones. The ‘lose a stone’ goal. Hold yourself accountable over this period.

But at the same time just work on the processes and actions here and now that still take you closer to your goal yet don’t mean living like a monk and avoiding the weight gain.

It means hitting a good breakfast, a good lunch and dinner. It means making time to exercise. Gym visits may be less frequent but that doesn’t stop you doing something at home, heading out for a walk at lunch or generally making time to move 15-30 minutes a day? You can still make progress. But instead of losing hope, stay in the moment.

It is funny – we see at this time of year a big drop off in attendance from those who struggle with making fitness part of their lives throughout the year. Those who don’t – don’t. Rain,wind or shine they are there.

Why are you making this about food?

You pour scorn on anyone who looks at the dessert menu. You tut over the top ups. You push food around your plate. You complain that your bun is not gluten free when you are not celiac.

Can I give you some advice? Eat the f**king burger. Look at the bigger picture. Enjoy your company. Have a laugh. For years I was caught in the clean eating malaise. It made social outings about the food and not about the company I was sharing.

Sure you may have some plans but health is a long term journey that isn’t broken with one ‘dirty meal’.

And I mean you Little Miss 23 Year Old Instagram loving fitness bunny with nothing to do all day except post what you had all day’. The rest of the day is functioning in what is called ‘the real world’. I work with people who live in this universe and get results..

Alcohol – the survival plan to avoid the weight gain

I like to let the lid off every 12 weeks and may have the odd beer here or there. But I don’t get anything out of it anymore. The days of drinking out of a wellington boot in the darkest rugby changing rooms are long gone.

But I get the need to head out for Xmas parties.

Here is the low down on alcohol…1) it is calories. And over a few drinks they certainly add up 2) Your food choices are sub optimal when you have the decision making capabilities of a toddler in a sweet shop and 3) you feel like crap the day after (unless you are one of those ‘functioning alcoholics’ and in which case I can give you a number for someone to talk to….today)

So recognize that alcohol makes you do silly things with your diet, so at least be mindful of this…and that is adds up robbing you of performance…and that it gives you tones of calories for no reward.

If you are going to drink, alternate a fizzy water with lemon or Have a clean spirit (vodka/gin), neat with ice, water and lemon or lime and then do your best to avoid the chipper on the way home.

Average weight gain is only 2lbs not 14.

No matter what the media say, the science says different. 12 studies looking over this time frame have given an average weight gain of 0.9kg over this period. Not 14. So rest easy grasshopper. All is not lost.

What I would do though is sticking to something is better than nothing. It creates a mindset that exercise, health and wellness is a lifestyle not a chore when,despite all the odds, you can still stick to somewhat of a healthy existence and not become McDonald’s biggest fan in 4 weeks.

Carb depletion works for Weight Loss. Not calorie depletion.

Dropping the carbs does work. A short term drop of the carbs for the little black dress sticking to protein, good fat and green veggies works for removing the bloat and dropping a tone of fluid weight. Note I said weight. The problem is folks do this horribly wrong. They drop the carbs and remove a third of their calories. That’s what we call in the trade ‘dumb’.

You still have to keep your calories up and for this to work well (without the side effects of feeling like warmed up shit) you have to be aware of how many calories you are taking in in the first place and then swap them for more protein and more good fats.

The problem arises again when you have this neurotic association with fat making you fat and can’t add a little bit more fat into your daily intake.

And eating more protein makes you physically sick at the thought.

My thoughts? Relax. If you are going down this road you better have things dialed in. If not just stick to eating good ole healthy food. It works.

Have a great holiday period