By LifeSport Coach Lance Watson
The season to be jolly is just around the corner, but unfortunately, the Christmas lechon is not usually the only thing that’ll have lots of fat over the holidays.
It’s commonly believed that on average, we usually gain 5-10 pounds in the Christmas season. It turns out that the average annual gain is closer to 1 pound. But that, according to a study, is a pound you never lose. After a few decades that annual pound becomes . . . obesity.
For adults gaining an average of almost a pound a year as they age, much of that weight gain is caused by changes in diet such as eating extra servings of foods such as potato chips, french-fries, sugar-sweetened drinks, white bread and low-fiber breakfast cereals. Other contributors are a decreased intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other minimally processed foods; less physical activity; more time spent watching TV; and poor sleep habits.
As an athlete, if you have lessened your training volume by this time, and couple that with increased consumption and the “athlete’s appetite”, you could be looking at a 5-10lb gain through November and December. For an extremely lean athlete, going from 5 to 7% body fat is no big deal, and actually healthy this time of year. For many of us who have been working hard towards developing the athlete’s physique to improve our performance, this time of year can be a significant setback in meeting our 2018 goals.
Enjoy some of the holiday treats, but consider some good, general rules:
- Christmas dinner facts
The average Christmas dinner contains more calories than the average adult needs in an entire day (for many, it’s almost double the amount they need in a day). It can also contain the amount of fat grams required for an entire week, according to the American Council on Exercise.
- The real meaning of Christmas
This holiday, keep the primary focus on thankfulness, family and faith rather than feasting. Think of the food as a periphery item, a fringe benefit.
- Small portions and will power
Want to taste it all? You should! Just because you want to enjoy all of the foods served during your family’s dinner doesn’t mean you need a full serving of each dish. Take enough to allow yourself a couple bites of each item.
- Eat slowly
Remember, it takes the stomach about 15-20 minutes to signal the brain that it is full. By then, we’ve usually overeaten, especially during the holidays. Eat slowly, savoring every bite. Tell yourself that if you are still hungry 15-20 minutes after you finish what is on your plate, you can have more — again, in moderation.
- Get Some Sleep
For many people, this is a busy time of year and it’s tempting to squeeze more hours out of the day by staying up later. But, as recent research suggests, sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, or at least stall weight loss.
- Get Coaching
Working with your coach to achieve specific goals during the holiday break will help keep you on the right path. The offseason is one of the best times of year for sport technical skill-building and strength gains. Competing less at this time of year means you have more time to dedicate to developing some of your specific sport weaknesses. This focus will keep you in touch with your inner athlete, and help keep the pounds off as well. Come January you will be in a great spot to start 2018 preparation.
Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 30 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels.
*COMING SOON: Lance Watson’s Official Philippines Ironman + 70.3 Programs Start January!