7 weeks until 2020... and 7 weeks until everyone starts scrambling to get “summer ready”.
Ironically, this is also the time most people give in to that "inevitable holiday weight gain".
But not you.
What you're doing over the next 7 weeks is going to set you up to successfully build the leanest, strongest and most confident version of yourself in 2020. But starting right now is crucial, because completely transforming your body takes a long time. So the sooner you can start, the better.
Ready? Let's talk through the smart nutrition strategies my online clients are using to keep progress rolling through the holidays.
1. Realize That The Holidays Are Only A Few Days Of The Next 7 Weeks
Over the next 7 weeks, we're celebrating 3 days:
- Christmas (Best holiday)
- New Year's Eve
That's 3/49 days. The reality is, it's impossible to gain that much fat in 3 days. If you ate to the point of completely stuffed all 3 days, you could maybe gain 1-2lbs of fat.
Remember that to gain 1lb of fat, you need to absorb ~3,500 calories above your maintenance intake. For almost everyone, this means more than doubling your normal calorie intake for the day. That's not easy to do.
On top of that, eating 3,500 calories doesn't just = 1lb of fat gain.
See, you body has many mechanisms to prevent weight loss and weight gain.
- When you eat more:
- The thermic effect of food is increased.
- Not all of the calories you intake are necessarily absorbed by the body. (This varies by the type of food you eat - unprocessed foods are typically harder to digest, meaning we usually absorb less of the calories we eat here. The more processed a food is, the easier it is for your body to digest & absorb.)
- Many people tend to move more as a response to overfeeding.
You're not going to gain 10, 5, or even 3 lbs of fat on the actual holidays. Point is, if you have a smart diet structure & accountability the other 46 days of 2019, holiday weight gain will be a non-issue for you.
2. Design Your Environment
Managing the other 44 days of the year starts with removing temptation.
To quote John Berardi':
"If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it."
If you put yourself in situations that force you to rely on purely on willpower, 9 times out of 10 you'll cave in eventually.
This doesn't make you weak, or a bad person - just a person that needs to focus more on environment design.
My most successful online clients aren't the ones with the strongest willpower - they're the ones that learn how to put themselves in situations that don't require a lot of willpower in the first place.
Like James Clear says: "Make it easy"... by keeping holiday treats, candies, etc. out of your house. This way they won't be a daily temptation.
Now if you want to occasionally enjoy a holiday treat, that's fine! Go to the store, buy some, eat it in a reasonable portion, and throw away the rest. This requires you to make a conscious decision to go acquire the food, and removes it from the realm of mindless eating. Don't keep it in your house.
Similarly, don't keep leftovers in your house after Christmas & Thanksgiving day. There's this weird thing where people feel compelled to finish leftovers to avoid being wasteful... but only if they're really good leftovers.
3. Use THIS Strategy On The Big Days
The day of each holiday, you first need to weigh what's most important to you.
I talk about this with each my online clients going into the day - you need to know what what you specifically need to do throughout the day to feel fulfilled & guilt-free.
For some clients, this means not stressing any strategies, and just eating as they please and enjoying family time.
Other clients want to find a way to make these days work with their fat loss.
The biggest thing to realize is, there's no wrong answer here - so it's best to think about what you want most out of each day beforehand.
For my online clients that do want to approach the day strategically, here's the plan:
→ (Probably) no tracking - Really, using the strategies below you can crush the day without having to worry about tracking. I always leave the option of tracking calories or no up to my online client's preference in this situation. So if you want to be sure you're on point for the day, go ahead and track. If you don't want to sweat tracking, you'll be fine.
→ Go for a 30 minute walk first thing in the morning - Days like this, your movement takes a big hit. Offset some of this by getting in some morning movement. If you can hit the gym, even better (but don't sweat it if you don't want to spend extra time away from your loved ones).
→ Intermittent fasting until noon (or 90 minutes before the main meal) - Nobody takes much "emotional value" from breakfast on holidays. We're all scrambling to prep the later meals (or in my case, to order a present on Amazon so I can at least say "it's on the way".)
Skipping this allows you to save up calories to spend on the later meals.
→ Protein + veggies at noon (or 90 minutes before the main meal) - The main goal of this meal is satiety.
You're going to be pretty hungry by this point, and very tempted by all the tasty foods around you - so this meal will fill you up, and tide you over until the main meal.
Protein is the most satiating food, with fibrous carbs coming in second. You're ticking both of those boxes here.
For the protein, I'd focus on something leaner to save up calories - something like chicken breast, lean ground turkey, non-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, tuna, or even a few scoops of protein powder.
For veggies, it's hard to go wrong really. Just eat a large bowl.
Since you'll have quite a bit of fiber and protein in your belly, it'll be much easier to eat a reasonable amount of food at the main holiday meal, without feeling tempted to overdo it, simply because you're so full.
If the main meal isn't until later in the evening, simply repeat this protein + veggies meal 1-2 more times - you want to avoid going into the main meal famished.
→ Eat lots of protein at the main meal - The beautiful thing about holiday meals is, they're typically abundant with protein. Turkey, ham, roast beef... it's great. Load your plate up with at least 3-4 palm-sized servings of protein. Be sure to add at least 1-2 fist-sized servings of veggies as well. Fill the rest of your plate with whatever.
Eat all of your protein and veggies first. By this point, you'll be relatively full. You'll still be able to enjoy the other foods, but eating your protein and veggies first encourages moderation.
→ Go for another 15-30 minute walk after the main meal - Again, we're making up for the fact that you'll likely be sitting most of the day. Recruit the whole family for this one (this will also aid digestion, and help everyone feel much better than the typical holiday food-coma.)
4. Push & Pull Calories
What you do with your calories and on a daily basis makes very little difference, as long as what you do on a weekly basis is on point - a single day of over-eating is easily correctable.
As long as your weekly deficit is the same and you’re hitting your protein goal daily, you should get very similar results. I like to call this shifting calories. You’re saving up calories ahead of time or eating less in following days to keep your weekly calories on point.
This approach is amazing for online clients, because it gives them a lot more flexibility within their diets. Understanding this concept allows you to finally be free from the “F it” mindset we easily fall into when falling off track with our diets.
So if you really feel like you overdid it on a holiday, simply reduce calories by 200-300 on the subsequent days, and work to get an extra 2,500 - 5,000 steps.
You'll easily make up the difference.
5. Make Training A Priority (And Follow A Plan You Love)
The holidays are when people usually let their training fall to the wayside.
This leads to less calories burned, and backtracking in the gym - both put you further from your ultimate goal of building the leanest, strongest, and most confident version of yourself.
Make your training at least 3-4x/week a non-negotiable. Falling out of the habit of training now makes it much harder to start again with the new year.
Now, if if any of the following sound like you...
- Always dragging yourself to the gym because you hate training
- Training consistently (and on point with nutrition) but not seeing progress
- Suffering from achy joints & pain created by your training program
- Not following a structured program at all
...I have the solution for you. I'm releasing a 12-week training program on Black Friday.
If you're ready to quit wasting your time in the gym, you need to follow a periodized training program that's backed in science. This program will help you feel lean, atheletic, and functionally strong.
Now, because I want this program to be an amazing experience for everyone that invests, I've had a group of coaches beta-testing it for me. The feedback has been amazing.
Just look at the progress my guy Jake has made so far (keep in mind that no transformation happens without a smart nutrition strategy as well):
Needless to say, this program is going to be legit.
If you're a coach, it's packed with education on how to create better, science-backed programs for your clients.
If you're coaching yourself, even better. You'll know the why behind what you're doing in the gym, and have a training program that will guide you to the best shape of your life over the first few months of the new year.
Black Friday. Be ready.
But, I'm not just here to plug the training program and want to give you more free education and value...
→ This blog teaches you exactly how I build training splits for online clients, from beginner to advanced.
→ This infographic gives you a free upper/lower split that will help you get leaner, stronger, and more confident:
Some quick notes on the program:
- Goals - Get you functionally strong, with lots of core & backside focus, and unilateral work to keep you athletic and balanced.
- 4x/Week upper/lower split - My all-time favorite split for online clients who want to look and feels great without living in the gym.
- Primary movements - Goal is progressive overload with good form. Push the weight!
- Everything else - Weight is still important, but be sure to “feel” your muscles working.
Holiday weight gain is far from inevitable.
Don't take the next 7 weeks off. Use them to jumpstart your 2020 transformation.
About The Author
Jeremiah Bair is a certified nutrition coach, strength coach, and owner of the Online Coaching Business Bairfit. His Instagram is noticeably missing any calf pictures.