Tonawanda News

December 9, 2013

FIT FOR LIFE: Strategies to help avoid common holiday pitfalls

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — During the last month of the year it’s easy to fall victim to the sweet treats and rich, fatty foods made available to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Here are some ideas on how to avoid putting on the pounds this season:

The office cupcake lady

You probably never knew Melissa from tech support had dreams about becoming the next reality TV chef, until she started bringing in the cakes, pies, cookies and cobblers that she’s “testing out” in preparation for her primetime debut. And nothing will derail your muscle definition faster than a couple of slices of cheesecake/pie during your coffee break.

The remedy: The best way to avoid is with something I call “the proximity defense.” Most office treats get set up in a specific conference room, in the kitchen cell block four, etc.

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 booty/pecs in the department” would be easy.

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 Jan. 1 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 2014 and you’ll stand out as the guy/girl who is going against the grain by putting his/her physique first this holiday season.

The bottle(s) of booze

Whether trying to survive your family during Thanksgiving dinner or trying to loosen up enough to bust out your favorite move — AKA the sprinkler — 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 might end up on the “Biggest Loser” instead.

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 Octoberfest or nineth shot of Jameson.

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.

The bad meal planning strategy

I get it. You’ve been waiting all year for your mom’s famous lumpy mashed potatoes and 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 apple pie.

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 and keep you looking like an escaped convict devouring food. 

Second, make sure you start by loading your plate with proteins like turkey or ham and some vegetables. These are foods that will fill you up, are “diet 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 comes around you’ll spend more time enjoying the weather and less time trying to work those extra slices of pie off of your booty.

Chris Tybor is a personal trainer and owner of Christfit, which has locations in Lewiston and Niagara Falls. For more information visit