November is the beginning of the holiday season. It all starts with Thanksgiving, followed by the December holiday parties and is capped off with the New Year Celebration. Now is the perfect time to share our tips for “Navigating the Holiday Season.”
Before we get going, we want everyone to understand that the holiday season only comes around once a year, and our best advice is to relax and enjoy the time with your family and friends. And yes, this includes enjoying good food and a few adult beverages as well. Remember being healthy is all about balance.
Many holiday meals happen outside of your home (family members house, restaurants, etc.), which makes measuring food almost impossible. Don’t avoid these functions or feel the need to bring your food scale with you and be “that guy” or “that girl.” Use your hands!
Here is how it works:
- Your palm determines your protein portions.
- Your fist determines your vegetable portions.
- Your cupped hand determines your carbohydrates portions.
- Your thumb determines your fat portions.
For protein-dense foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, or beans, use a palm-sized serving.
- For men, we recommend two palm-sized portions with each meal.
- For women, we recommend one palm-sized portion with each meal.
For vegetables like broccoli, spinach, salad, carrots, etc., use a fist-sized serving.
- For men, we recommend two fist-sized portions of vegetables with each meal.
- For women, we recommend one fist-sized portion of vegetables with each meal.
For carbohydrate-dense foods like grains, starches, or fruits, use a cupped hand to determine your serving size.
- For men, we recommend two cupped-hand sized portions of carbohydrates with most meals.
- For women, we recommend one cupped-hand sized portion of carbohydrates with most meals.
For fat-dense foods like oils, butter, nut butter, nuts/seeds, use your entire thumb to determine your serving size.
- For men, we recommend two thumb-sized portions of fats with most meals.
- For women, we recommend one thumb-sized portion of fats with most meals.
A note on body size:
If you’re a bigger person, you probably have a large hand. And if you’re a smaller person, you probably have a little hand. Your hand is a personalized (and portable) measuring device for your food intake.
Based on the guidelines above, which assumes you’ll be eating about four times a day, you now have a simple guide for meal planning.
The holiday season often means that you won’t be cooking your meals. Add in the fact that you might be busy at work, shopping for gifts or traveling can make eating high-quality foods even more difficult. Here are some foods that you can bring with to help keep you on track:
- Nuts and seeds
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Fresh fruit
- Grilled chicken breast
- Protein bars
- Protein power
- Raw vegetables
- Natural peanut butter
If you are eating out at a restaurant, go online, and research the menu to find healthy options. Also, don’t be afraid to order à la carte if possible, using the guidelines mentioned in TIP #1. If you need to eat on the run, stop at a local grocery store and build a meal in the deli section. You can even eat at fast food places like Chipotle or Qdoba and create healthy meals. Remember, the goal is to eat better, not perfect.
The benefits of slow eating include better digestion, better hydration, increased weight loss, and greater satisfaction with your meals. Conversely, eating fast leads to poor digestion, increased weight gain, and lower satisfaction. The message is clear: slow down your eating and enjoy improved health and well-being.
Another effective strategy to avoid gaining weight and body fat during the holidays is to eat lots and lots of vegetables. They’re water-dense, calorie-sparse, and full of the nutrients you need to keep your energy and mood up for holiday events.
One of the most common patterns we see among clients is getting derailed by the holidays and “falling off the workout wagon” for the rest of the year. If you don’t have time to get to the gym or CrossFit box, do compound bodyweight exercises. Here are ten bodyweight workouts that can be done at home or on the road without equipment:
10 rounds: 10 air squats, 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups
5 rounds: 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 walking lunges
For time: 50, 40, 30, 20 & 10 rep rounds of double unders and sit-ups
For time: 50, 40, 30, 20 & 10 rep rounds of single unders and push-ups
For time: Run 400 meters, 100 squats, run 400 meters, 75 squats, run 400 meters, 50 squats, run 400 meters, 25 squats
5 rounds of: 30 jumping jacks, 20 squats, 10 burpees
For time: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rep rounds of burpees and sit-ups
AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 20 minutes: 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 15 squats
Squats for time: (pick a number between 100 – 500)
For time: 100 jumping jacks, 75 air squats, 50 push-ups, 25 burpees
We can’t stress enough how important water is to maintaining good health. Water does the following things for our bodies:
- Transports things to and from the cells of your body
- Helps dissolve most non-lipids
- Helps to filtrate organs like the kidneys and liver
- Water is involved in many of our body’s chemical reactions
- Helps to lubricate organs, joints, our digestive tract and more
- Regulates our temperature
How water can help you during the holidays:
- Replacing sugary drinks with water lowers overall caloric intake.
- Drinking water before your three main meals can help to increase fat loss.
The bottom line is that drinking water keeps you hydrated, fuller, and may even boost your metabolism for an hour.
Even the good behaviors mentioned above can be sabotaged by not getting quality sleep. Some of the effects of poor sleep include:
- Lack of focus
- Being unhappy, stressed or depressed
- Getting sick
- Lack of workout recovery
- Weight control issues
Here are a few healthy sleep tips:
- Set the alarm and wake up on-time
- Get some sunlight
- Get moving right away
- Note that excess caffeine or alcohol can interfere with deep sleep
- Don’t overeat before bed
- Limit fluids around bedtime
- Clear your mind by shutting off the electronics
- Go to bed on time
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep