...or How to Navigate the Holidays Without Gaining an Ounce.
The holidays are a cursed blessing. They really are. They are the toughest competition of the year for those wanting to stay on track with fitness goals. You need to stay motivated. You need to have eagle eye focus. You need to be a ninja.
Yes. We love the opportunities to spend time with our friends, our families. Yes. We welcome the forced disruptions in the workweek to remind us that there are other things in life more important than, well, work, and working out.
Things get a little tricky, however, when we try to maintain our eating plans around the buffet table or attempt to enjoy the spirit of the holidays without spirits, especially at Friends-givings.
For many, the holidays aren’t the holidays without all the food and all the booze. We've ritualized our eating. We've spiritualized our drinking. We break bread. Lots of it, in the name of 'community,' a symbol of coming together. And we can't raise glass after glass to all those for whom we're thankful if there's nothing in the glass.
We know that hunger pangs can be our demise. We also know that when we enter hungry, our guard is already down. Throw a couple of aperitifs down the neck as we wait for the big dinner, and the hunger pangs become sharper. That's when we give in to other temptations especially those on the dinner table. Feeling famished, pickled and defenseless, we ignore portion control. We neglect our caloric requirements. In short, we fail our body, the only one we’ve got. (Remember, there is no spare.)
The pressure isn't just at home and with friends. We feel it at the office, too. Order sparkling water on the rocks at a holiday work function when everybody else is pounding vodka tonics and fireballs and you’ll be the scourge of the corner booth. Booze kick-starts the night, making it easier for everybody to get on the same, blurry page. And sometimes, it's just too hard to say 'no.'
Like it or not, the holidays are a race. A two-month marathon in fact. It's the roughest, toughest--and longest--competition of the year.
But this leg of your fitness race isn't won by the swiftest. It's won by the stealthiest.
There’s no need to let hunger pangs win. Or to dry out completely. Or to become a shut-in until the holidays are over. Put on your ninja mask and deftly avoid the things that screw up your metabolism set back your training, and generally make you feel crappy. Because once you have donned the mask: You are forever apart. You lead a life of rigorous training, intense concentration, and danger. (This is an ancient ninja saying).
Ninja’s can escape any compromising scenario—often times, before they become compromising. They plan ahead (fill up on vegetables, not the fattening stuff at the party). They think things through (anything I eat tonight, I will be wearing on my abs/butt/thighs tomorrow!). They stay focused on the task at hand (instead of drinking the shot your friends buy you, throw it over your shoulder!). They can 'hack' any situation, redesigning the rules of engagement on the fly. They slip in and slip out with nary a scene. And they’re long gone before anybody can criticize for not having another drink.
And remember as the ninja say, "The more skill you acquire, the less you have to use it."
Let the games begin.