‘Tis The Season – How To Stay Lean During The Holidays

Last year I posted a little blurb about off-season maintenance which I think deserves a re-post.  This is especially appropriate since I recently made homemade (unclean) fudge and plan to make it again.  Keep in mind that you can still indulge in these little cheats as long as you keep the rest of your meals clean.  If you do this, you can absolutely maintain a good degree of leanness throughout the holiday season.

There are a few tricks to minimize the amount of bad foods which you may be tempted to devour.  You can consume a small amount of lean protein right before you have a carb cheat.  This will slow down digestion so that the carbs aren’t stored as readily.  Another trick is to drink a glass of water before you indulge in a decadent treat.  This will help to fill you up so you consume less food afterward.  When you are aware that you will be at a function in which tempting foods will be around, make sure your meals beforehand are kept clean and that you you eat every 2-1/2 to 3 hours to ensure that you won’t be ravenous come party time.  One of the worst things you can do is skip meals beforehand in hopes that the caloric deficit will balance out the overindulgence later.  All this does is squash your metabolism and increase your chance of overeating.

As long as you eat clean the remainder of the time, you should be able to stay within a few pounds of your maintenance weight if you do not compete, or within a few pounds of competition weight if you do compete.  Case in point:  I have been eating clean the vast majority of the time, with rare cheats here and there.  Though I was not in contest prep mode for NPC Nationals on November 9th and 10th, I weighed in that week at 117 pounds which is one pound over my competition weight, and had a waist measurement of 22.75 inches.  Last week, I had pizza twice but kept all other meals clean, and was able to maintain my weight at 117 lbs. with a 23 inch waist measurement.  The last thing I want to do is to unravel the results of all the hard work I have invested and continue to invest into my physique.  I did not skip any meals when I had these fun foods but just continued on my usual clean food path.

Some of you may be wondering what the cleanest choices are when you are at the holiday banquet.  Though this reflects the common holiday foods which are rather calorie dense, here are some of the better choices out of the bunch:

  • Roast turkey breast
  • Green beans without butter
  • Mashed potatoes made with whipped butter and Greek yogurt instead of milk and regular butter
  • Pumpkin Pie

Some of you may also be wondering what I am planning on cooking and eating, so here is my Thanksgiving menu:

  •  16 pound turkey
  • my secret stuffing recipe which has lots of goodies in it but is relatively low in fat and calories compared to other exotic stuffing recipes
  • mashed potatoes made with light butter and Greek yogurt
  • creamed spinach
  • my homemade fudge
  • whole cranberry-mandarin orange relish
  • turkey gravy
  • rolls
  • wine
  • store-bought chocolate pecan pie (which I probably won’t eat)

Obviously there are some items on my menu that fall outside of my “clean food guidelines”, but since the holidays only come once a year, and since I am only cooking one holiday feast which will be served on one day, I have no qualms about it.   This is the time during which we should count our blessings and spend quality time with the people we love without getting anxious about what we are eating.  However, this does not mean you have free license to go nuts on bad foods for the next month!  If you end up indulging in other foods, don’t beat yourself up.  Instead, enjoy the feast and resume healthy eating the next day.  Happy holidays!

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