Healthy Into the Holidays

Can you believe it's already the beginning of October?!  I made a post on my Facebook page asking if anyone wanted to bulk with me and I got a lot of funny responses.  You don't have to bulk, but as we head into the Holiday season, where a lot of events are focused around food, it's important to go into it with a plan!  

Step 1- Define your goals between now and the end of the year. 

Do you want to lose weight, maintain for the season, be healthier, look a certain way, improve your performance in the gym, clear up your skin, etc?  There are a lot of possible goals and some support each other while some compete with each other.  You may have to sacrifice some things to achieve your goals so it's important to be clear on what you want and why.  Define your goal and timeline and make sure it aligns with your life! 

The Holiday season is filled with temptations like Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas cookies, and other parties and events.  Plus the cold weather can make you crave comfort food.  If you want to put on more muscle, this is a great time to bulk.  If that's not a goal of yours, you have two more choices.  The first is to lose a few pounds now.  Then if you gain a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years, you are back where you started, not ending the year at your heaviest.  The other option is to just focus on putting healthy food in your body.  Establish good habits now so that you don't go overboard and you can still maintain your weight.   

Step 2- Determine how many calories you need.  

To maintain your weight, you need to eat the same amount of calories as you burn- which is based on your height, weight, age, activity level, etc.  To lose weight, aka a cut, you must eat less than you burn, creating a caloric deficit.  And to bulk, you eat more than your burn, creating a calorie surplus.  The goal with bulking is to put on muscle although you will most likely gain some fat.  I like to use the free app MyFitness Pal.  Enter your information, set your goals, and it gives you the recommended calories.  HINT- in the Goals section, go to Calorie and Macronutrient Goals and adjust your carbs down to 40%, and protein and fat to 30% each.  This is a better starting point, but we can adjust it further as needed.  

Step 3- Hit your macros with mostly healthy food. 

Whether you are trying to maintain or bulk, this is not a free for all of eating any and every treat that comes your way.  It is a great time to relax a little, enjoy social events, and find balance.  To me, it always comes down to the question of is it worth it?  I like Snickers bars, but just because they are in a Halloween wrapper, I don't have to eat them.  I can buy them any time if that's what I choose.  Same thing with store bought cookies and cakes.  I would rather save the calories for something special, like a homemade cupcake.  Hint, hint @spreadjamiejam :)

I can't say this enough- what you eat is the most important thing for your overall health. Eating the right foods is going to have the biggest impact on how you look, feel, sleep, recover, everything.  Put mostly healthy food in your body to hit your macros and you will have freedom to indulge.  

This is a great time to get in the habit of tracking your food and learning to estimate portion sizes.  I don't expect you to bring a scale and measuring cup to Thanksgiving dinner, but if you start now, you should be able to eyeball four ounces of turkey, a half cup of mashed potatoes, and a serving of pumpkin pie.  And then fill the rest of your plate with vegetables.  

Step 4- Share it, commit, and plan for obstacles

My goal is to bulk through December 1st, then go into a six week cut so I lean out for my birthday and Mexico trip.  It's starting out easy being able to eat more, but the obstacles I anticipate are that body weight movements will feel harder, I'll get vain and want to end sooner, I will feel more restricted and hungry when I have to reduce my calories in the peak of Christmas party season.  I plan to overcome this by staying focused on the goals and outcomes- I want to be stronger!  I will experiment with different recipes for healthier versions of treats that I can share.

What are your goals?  Let me know how I can support you!