‘Tis the season to be jolly…
But today I’m going to show you how to diet during the holidays.
Because if there’s one time of year that people come unstuck with their eating habits, it’s the holidays.
You head into holiday season feeling like Popeye and you exit feeling like Bluto.
But there is one specific instruction I give clients every year, and it pays dividends when this time of year arrives.
How To Diet During The Holidays
The “trick” to dieting during the holiday season is simple:
Ease the fuck up.
You see, when December the 1st arrives my training schedule usually takes a massive hit.
With all of the family engagements and a heavy workload, I usually find that I can’t get to the gym as much as I would like and, by being constantly surrounded by junk food, temptation lies at every turn.
But while the latest trendy Instagram meme will probably say some bullshit like “Train your mind to withstand the weakness around you”, I actually tell my clients to do just the opposite.
From over a decade of experience, with thousands of different male/female clients following my plans, there is one common factor which returns every Christmas:
Trying to follow a strict diet over the holidays is a recipe for failure.
Further still, unless you are training for a show or competition of some kind, you have absolutely zero need to go this hard.
Why I Do This
Hardcore “clean eaters” usually hate the fact I tell my clients to enjoy a treat over holiday season.
I can hear them now.
“Oh but Russ, I don’t eat for taste, I eat for fuel…”
Good for you.
Enjoy your fucking seeds and rice.
That doesn’t mean everybody else lives that way.
I certainly don’t – I’m eating pizza while writing this for you – and neither do my clients.
Because the best diet is the one you can stick to, and 99% of people cannot – and need not – eat this way, especially during a time when everybody else is enjoying a treat.
From my experience, trying to adhere to a ridiculously strict diet at this time of year leads to worse consequences than simply letting your guard down a little.
Stop beating yourself up.
Fitness is part of your lifestyle.
You train hard and you follow a healthy diet on a regular basis.
Heck, if anyone is allowed you enjoy a treat and not feel guilty about it, it’s you!
So it pains me when I see people:
- turning down family time because they still have to train 6 days a week
- refusing to participate in family get-togethers for fear of being around junk food
News flash, motherfucker – if a bit of junk food is going to destroy your diet, you are dieting the wrong way.
No food is “bad” for you, and no food will “make you fat”. Everything is okay in moderation.
A more flexible approach to dieting will allow you to eat the foods you enjoy in moderation, and has been shown – versus strict “clean eating” dieting – to result in far greater diet adherence, alongside lower hunger levels and a greatly reduced urge to over eat. (1)
I’ve always found that trying to force-feed yourself bullshit “clean food” – hate that term – over the holidays actually does more damage than good, and typically leads to a massive binge which sets you back weeks, maybe months.
The psychological damage it can do to you is awful.
Because even the toughest of regimental eaters can only last for so long.
And that’s when it happens.
As soon as that first crack appears, they fly off the rails quicker than a train being driven by a drunken Scotsman.
It’s the same approach of:
“I’ve dropped my mobile phone. Might as well stamp it into oblivion.”
How To Apply My Tips
In my opinion, the only folks who need to keep their diet as strict over the holidays as it is for the rest of the year, are athletes who are about to compete in an event.
For everybody else?
The holiday season should be a platform which sets you up for an entire year of solid training.
By allowing yourself time off, you will gain a massive psychological advantage when you return to your full program after the festive period is over.
You’ll be happy.
And a happy person is a productive person.
Further still, by removing the whole “I’m not allowed anything unless it tastes of cardboard” mentality, you will notice just how much temptation to binge eat is reduced.
Most of my clients report back in January saying that even though they knew they could enjoy treats, they didn’t go off the rails at all, unlike when they used to try to diet all the way through.
To get the most out of this mindset – something which may be completely out of the blue to what most of you are used to doing over the holiday season – what I suggest you do is factor it in from the beginning of the year.
Nobody trains all-out for the full year.
It’s just not how we work.
You’ll have a phases throughout the year where you are on top of your game, blasting it both in the gym and in the kitchen. And there will be other phases where you can’t seem to get motivated to train, or you stop adhering to your diet.
Don’t try to be Super-Man.
It happens to us all.
Instead, get out of the concept of viewing your training program as a day-to-day thing.
View it as a yearly thing.
All of my clients do this.
In January/February, they already know that come December they’re going to ease up and take their routine down to maintenance levels as well as free up their diet a little compared to normal.
This means they cut themselves some slack when it happens.
And in a strange way, it also helps them to stick to their training routine the rest of the year round, because they know they have some well earned “downtime” around the corner.
Like I said, the best diet is the one you can stick to.
Sure, eating a bit of cake at a family get-together over the holidays may push you over your carbohydrate target for the day.
But not eating that cake because you didn’t go to the family occasion for fear of it “ruining everything you’ve worked for”, will cause a far greater psychological hit.
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1. Stewart T.M., et al. “Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women.” Appetite. 2002 Feb;38(1):39-44.