Sunday 25 February 2018

Shape Up: Have your cake and eat it too

Nobody is 100pc perfect with their diet and a few treats over Christmas are OK, just don't use it as an excuse to pig out completely

Damien Maher

As someone passionate about health, I have what many people call discipline to resist from devouring certain treats. I don't consider it discipline but merely that I like myself more being lean and healthy than the alternative.

It is my choice and each day I wake up I choose to like myself enough to not risk throwing it all away. You can be the same. After all, you have never eaten anything by accident, have you?

That's not to say that I never treat myself to a dessert or anything, but if you are 'treating' yourself every day it is not a novelty any more. A treat insinuates that it is not common and the trick is to schedule it in your diary after a period of around five days and to manipulate your food intake in the days prior to this.

Lately in the gym I've heard many people who have decided to write off the month of December, vowing to get stuck in again in the New Year.

These people expect to blow their diet and skip workouts over the holidays. They expect to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, they won't even make the effort. Instead of taking control, they are resigning themselves to maintenance at best.

Well, let me tell you a valuable secret -- fat cells don't take holidays and this Christmas they plan on working harder than ever.

If you want to break free from such negative predictions, you need to plan and schedule your workouts for the holiday season. This way you are not trying to squeeze in a workout whenever you have time left over -- there is never time left over!

You need to set compelling and written fitness and nutrition goals for the holiday period. The majority of people do not set goals of any sort over the Christmas period yet 80pc of those who do are successful.

Plan your cheat meals days in advance. Psychologically, you will be answering your cravings, and physiologically your body knows it will get excess calories so it can release fat cells whilst also boosting your metabolic rate.

A few cheats a week over Christmas will not seriously affect your physique once you are still training. If you do, however, fall completely off the wagon, don't beat yourself up about it and give up all hope. No one will ever be 100pc strict with their diet but a slip-up is no excuse to continue pigging out.

During the holiday season, you need to remain consistent with your eating patterns, even on Christmas day. Skipping breakfast to make room for the bigger dinner is a great way to invite a binge. You will end up going off to retrieve your stretchy pants to accommodate your bloated belly, just like Joey from the sitcom 'Friends'.


By controlling your portion sizes and eating off smaller plates you have a better chance of beating the law of energy balance, that is, calories in versus calories out. To drop body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit.

Sure your friends will try and drag you down, but you must have high standards and don't expect their standards to match yours. It is harder to soar like an eagle when you surround yourself with turkeys!

The majority of people have planned in advance to fail over Christmas so you must not let their negative influence drag you down.

No matter where you are, you will always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. It's a choice.

Chances are that there's probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. Turkey and green vegetables are on every Christmas menu and you can opt for sweet potatoes instead of mash when at home, as they have a much lower insulin response in your blood stream.

If you're serious about your fitness goals, know that alcohol and muscles just don't mix. It affects your energy levels, your ability to burn fat, it is high in calories and it lowers testosterone for five days, which affects your ability to build fat-burning muscle.

It is a choice, not a discipline. There is no reason why health and fitness should spoil your holidays, neither should the holidays destroy your health and fitness.

Health & Living

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