Lose Fat

How to Avoid 4 of the Most Common Holiday Diet Destroyers

These innocent things are threatening to annihilate your fitness progress this holiday season. Identify them and avoid them.

How to Avoid 4 of the Most Common Holiday Diet Destroyers
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This year, you actually did it. You crushed it all spring and went into the summer in the best shape of your life. You were the only guy who had visible abs at the Fourth of July beach party. You actually kept up with your program and  hit the gym during your August vacation. You even managed to stay away from all the Halloween candy you had laying around your house since what had to be the middle of September.

But now comes the tricky part—the holiday season. And nothing can wipe out a full year’s worth of progress like the dinners, parties, commitments and stress that come in those few short weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. To help you avoid falling into those traps, here’s a heads up on the four biggest holiday fitness destroyers and some tips on what you can do to keep them at bay.

1. The Office Cupcake Lady

You probably never knew Sheila from accounting had dreams about becoming the next Julia Child until she started bringing in the cakes, pies, cookies and cobblers that she’s "testing out" in preparation for her big holiday dinner. And nothing will derail your muscle definition faster than a couple of slices of pumpkin cheesecake during your 3 o’clock coffee break.

The Remedy: The best way to avoid Sheila’s "goodies" (and, yes, I’m referring to her baked goods, you perv) is with something I call "the proximity defense." Most office treats get set up in a specific conference room, in the kitchen or at the baker’s desk. Do everything you can to avoid going past these areas and you’ll be much less likely to indulge. It may require you mapping out a new route to the bathroom, but no one said that keeping your title of “Best Biceps in the Design Department” would be easy.

2. The New Year’s Resolution

So, you’ve let your gym membership slide and you’re thinking you’ll just wait 'til the post-New Year’s deals before you re-sign up. Or you figure, with all the holiday parties and dinners you have lined up, you may as well wait until after January 1st to really commit to that new low-carb diet plan. Problem with this kind of thinking is that while you are waiting for the perfect time to make fitness your priority, you are packing on inches to your waist and getting further and further away from your goals. And, at this rate, it will take you until April just to get back to where you were in October.

The Remedy: The answer is simple: Don’t wait. Find a nutrition plan or a workout program that excites you and start today. You’ll have a great head start going into the new year and you’ll stand out as the guy who is going against the grain by putting his physique first this holiday season.

3. The Bottle(s) of Booze

Whether trying to survive your family during Thanksgiving dinner or trying to loosen up enough to get jiggy with Sheila out on the dance floor during the office holiday party, you are much more likely to enjoy a few too many cocktails this time of year. And while that glass of bourbon may make you feel like you are really good enough to be on the next season of Dancing With The Stars, you’ll end up with anything but a dancer’s body by the time you add in all those extra calories from booze.

Alcohol has more calories per gram than either protein or carbs. Plus alcohol is what is called a "priority nutrient" meaning that your body will prioritize using it for energy before any other substrate. In other words, all those alcohol calories have to be burned off before any fat loss can start to take place. Makes you think twice about having that sixth gin and tonic, huh?

The Remedy: Use the tried-and-true trick of having one glass of water for every cocktail you take in. This will not only cut down on the amount of booze you knock back, it will also help you stay hydrated and improve the quality of your sleep.

4. The Bad Meal Planning Strategy

I get it. You’ve been waiting all year for your mom’s famous sausage and cornbread stuffing. And while your family sits down to the dinner table to say grace all you can think about is how high you are going to pile the good stuff on your plate. It’s no mystery that holiday meals are total calorie bombs. What you may not be sure about is how to go about holding back from that seventh piece of pecan pie. There are a few strategies you can apply.

The Remedy: First, eat something healthy and filling an hour before the meal. You don’t want to stuff yourself, and arriving to the dinner table with no appetite will surely break your mom’s heart, but downing a small salad or a large apple in your pre-game meal will help you show a little restraint. Second, make sure you start by loading your plate with proteins like turkey or ham and vegetables. These are foods that will fill you up, are ab-friendly and are much less likely to be involved in helping after helping binges (plus they are delicious).

Once you are done with those, then go in for normal-sized portions of the stuff you’ve been craving. Finally, if the meal is served buffet-style, make a pact with yourself to only load up your plate once and, again, make sure three-quarters of it are filled with proteins and vegetables. This way, when Spring Break comes around you’ll spend more time fighting hot girls off your body and less time trying to work that extra cup of gravy off your body.

Get more seasonal fit tips with the Lifter's Guide to the Holidays>>