I tried with the pun...who knows if it worked.

It’s no secret that the holidays are coming up...SOMEHOW Thanksgiving is next week and we only have 42 days left in this 2020 year. Who knew we’d make it here??? It feels like the year of March was yesterday and somehow we blew through June through October!

Which means it’s time to discuss the holidays and your nutrition. The holidays pose a LOT of stress for many people—even outside of dieting and following a sustainable nutrition plan...and after all of 2020, this year likely has a bit MORE stress with it. If you’re like me, you may not be able to see your family for the holidays. You may have to work. You may be sick. You may have a relative sick. A LOT of stress up in here.

Which we KNOW has an effect—mentally, physically, emotionally.

BUT don’t worry. I got you.

This blog is going to teach you how to tackle this holiday season.

The past couple years, I’ve taken it in a couple different directions. Year 1, I taught you how to stay on your weight loss plan during the holidays. The next year, I taught you how to put those holiday foods to good use. This year, I’m going to I guess do a little bit of both, but mainly focus on the mindset-side on handling the holidays.

So quick before we dive into mindset, let’s discuss some potential adjustments to your nutrition in the next couple of weeks and how this can be used to help with mindset adjustments.

#1 – Are you periodizing your nutrition?? (and what does that even mean??)

Your nutrition should be periodized, meaning you have periods of maintenance, deficits, reverse diets, and surpluses. Even if you’re not an elite athlete, this is something that should be factored in because it’s the most effective and, most importantly, sustainable way to see results. A lot of people want to build muscle and lose weight...and that can’t be done at the same time.

We’ve talked calories manyyyyy times...but in case you’re new, here’s how calories work:

Build muscle = caloric surplus (cals in > cals out)

Lose weight = caloric deficit (cals in < cals out)

Maintain weight = caloric maintenance (cals in = cals out)

Yes, that means that you have completely opposite directions for very separate goals.

This is the basis for nutrition periodization...For athletes, this is more based and decided off of their athletic “on” season and “off” seasons.

Periodization for the general population—for people not going to Olympics, professional athletes, etc.—and are simply just wanting to look and feel good is a bit different and is more based on times of convenience and adherence...

Enter the holidays.

As a coach, I know for the majority of people that the holidays are either...

  • A time of stress

  • A time of extra calories

  • A time of sweets and treats

KNOWING THIS, it would be pretty absurd for me to expect a client to be able to adhere to a reduced intake. That poses a HUGE stress on one’s mindset, commitment, motivation, and discipline. Creating a hefty deficit is one recipe for burnout and disaster.

IF you, instead, created PERIODS of time prior to the holidays where you created a calorie deficit to target weight loss, then you’d be able to use the holidays

Realistically you shouldn’t be dieting more than 12-16 weeks at a time and no more than twice a year...that leaves close to 50% of the year left for other phases: maintenance and gaining phases. This is the BULK of your progress because you can’t live in a deficit. SO why not make some of that time in the HOLIDAY season where we know cravings are higher, access to food isn’t scarce, and stress is likely a bit higher—so the extra calories can likely be helping you.

AND then you can alter and adjust your training to put that extra food to good use 😉

SO periodization is the basis for how you’re going to be able to enjoy your holidays without guilt, hunger, cravings, you name it.

Sounds pretty great, right?

Now, again, if you’re new, I understand you may not be periodizing your nutrition JUST yet. Keep reading, because there’s adjustments you can be taking to still enjoy your holidays.

#2 – Nutrition


So how do you realistically adjust your nutrition for helping you thrive during the holidays??

For your nutrition during the holiday season, I recommend making it a period of time so that you’re eating at maintenance calories or more.

That’s right, extra food!! Why restrict your food when you don’t have to? Why NOT use the extra available calories in your favor to help you reach your goals? Especially if you’re going to be eating those extra calories anyways and LOSE progress—taking a huge mindset punch to the gut—why not intentionally add in those calories, relieve some stress, and see some progress as a result? Talk about a win-win-win!

The number of calories is going to depend mostly on your individual TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Not sure how to find that? Take your body weight and multiply by 14-16. This will give you your maintenance calories. Start here.

Before you immediately start logging your calculated maintenance and/or surplus calories, you’re going to want to track your current intake for ~7 days if you haven’t already to see where you’re at now. It’s not going to help you mentally if you’re undereating and immediately start giving you 500+ calories daily.

If you’re eating >500 calories less than that calculation, you’ll first need to reverse diet. Luckily for you, I’ve written just how to do that and you can instead spend your holiday season slowly bringing your intake up aiming to end the holidays around maintenance calories. If you’re less than that difference you can easily just bump yourself up to maintenance.

NOW if you want to create a little surplus and build some strength and focus on gains during the holiday season, take those maintenance calories simply just add 50-200 calories to your daily prescription. You also can bypass most of these steps and simply multiply your body weight by 17-19.

To get up to that surplus intake, you can take two routes. You can either just jump up to that surplus caloric intake or somewhat reverse diet by making a couple jumps up to your increased intake.