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Why intensive gym time in the New Year won’t get you a six pack



by Nicole Lana Lee

Holiday Weight Gain: The Christmas Sin You May Be Committing

With Christmas around the corner, you’re likely to be reaching for the next delicious bite. “I’m going to eat as much as I want over the holidays, and work out twice as hard to lose weight after. And…this pie is just a bite-size appetizer. How fattening can it be?”

After all, you may think it is too “hard” to control your food intake during the festive season. So you tell yourself “Don’t be a party pooper and stop being anal. Enjoy life and feast!”

My friend, Bridget, felt the same. She piled on 5 pounds during Christmas.  And she gained 10 pounds in six-months.

Turning into Bridget Jones on an Elliptical Machine….

It was Christmas. Bridget ate a bit more each day, each meal, each party.  Before she knew it, Bridget has already eaten 10 mini pies in one sitting before her Christmas dinner.

Bridget then indulged in her main course – buffet with turkey, pasta, roasted buttery potatoes, and beans. Remember how Bridget Jones ate out of her ice cream tub, waiting for Mr. Right to rescue her? Likewise, my friend, Bridget, indulged in gluttony, waiting for her gym sessions in the New Year to save her.

So Bridget dabbled on the Elliptical for 30 minutes a day in the new year. “Wow, I just burned 300 calories! This will compensate for the Christmas meal (tsk tsk, the meal was more like 3,000 calories) I had last night.”

However, her gym sessions never seemed to compensate for the food she ate. Doodling at the gym staring at Jessica Biel’s butt in OK! Magazine, Bridget looked more like Bridget Jones. In 2 months, she started to notice her protruding belly, flabby arms, lackluster skin and low energy level.

The fun part is… it was just the beginning. Six-months down the line, my pal Bridget piled on over 10 pounds. Tsk tsk, ever wondered why your acquaintance Tom gained that middle-age spread after not having seen him for 6 months?

Conventional wisdom doesn’t always work. You may not lose Christmas weight even after your “grueling” gym sessions in the New Year.

Unless you’re super dedicated to an intense workout routine after your gluttony, it is likely that you may not lose the weight, especially if you don’t watch your diet after.

In one typical Christmas meal, you’re likely to have eaten over 3,000 calories (this maybe a conservative estimate). If your workout burns 500 calories an hour, and your average daily calorie intake requirement is around 2,000 calories, your workout may not be sufficient to burn off the remaining extra calories you piled on.

Of course, if you workout like Michael Phelps after your gluttony, you can potentially lose the weight. But I assume that you don’t have 3-4 hours to workout *intensively* 5 times a week.

What if there’s a better solution than just getting fat in the parties, hoping (*gasp*) you get back in shape in the New Years?

What about staying in shape during the holidays?

The best part if, what if you get to stay in shape and enjoy the food you eat during the holidays?

If you’re interested in staying fit, healthy, and energetic during the holidays, read on for 7 actionable tips and tactics on how to do that.

7 Simple Tips to Stay Hot During Christmas

#1: Make Your Own Desserts

Many of us have a sweet tooth. And frankly, a lot of the empty calories in meals are from sugar and alcohol.

We love the Christmas pies and Stollen fruit cakes. However, they are fat and sugar-laden, and a piece of Christmas pudding can be more than 500 calories.

You can save quite a lot of calories by making your own desserts and substituting white sugar with low GI coconut sap sugar , stevia or maple syrup.  Another tip, replace margarine and butter with coconut oil.

Make your own desserts and bring it to a party. Your stomach and friends will thank you.

I will be posting some paleo-friendly, raw, and vegan dessert recipes – stay tuned!

#2: Say Yes to Carbonated Water and Pace Your Drinking

Alcohol can contribute to nearly 10% of total calorie intake among drinkers, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.

Of course, you may want to indulge in one or two drinks. However, the danger comes when you overeat or/and over indulge in alcohol. Instead of saying yes to the next drink, learn to say no.

And, say yes to carbonated or sparkling water (no sugar added) with lemon. Save the champagne for 12:00 midnight December 31st.

Alternatively, pace your drinking. Drink 2-3 glasses of water or juice for every 1 glass of champagne, ideally no more than 1 glass of alcoholic beverage in 2 hours. By spacing your alcoholic intake, you can be mindful of your alcohol consumption and slow down your drinking pace.

Rather than drinking mindlessly, you can actually savor the taste of your champagne. Naturally, you will be drinking less.

#3: Hang out at Healthy Restaurants

Instead of going to parties that serve mediocre fat-laden food, why not hang out more often at your local healthy restaurants? These restaurants will most likely serve festive food and a holiday menu that is also healthy.

The best part is, there’s a higher chance that you will meet other likeminded customers who want to stay healthy during the season. You can encourage each other to stay fit over the holidays.

#4: When eating out, start with a salad or a vegetable dish

Vegetables contain more water and are less calorie-dense than meat and chicken. Vegetables fill you up so you end up eating less after your greens. However, I’d go easy on the dressings because some may not be the healthiest for you. It is hard to tell the ingredients when you’re eating out so the safest bet is to stick with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

#5: Replace potatoes and white bread with other root vegetables and rye bread

Potatoes are no strangers in the holiday table. However, potatoes contain high GI, causing spike in blood sugar level and contributing to weight gain.

Substitute potatoes with other root vegetables like carrots, beets and sweet potatoes.

And, instead of grabbing a piece of white bread, ask for rye or spelt bread instead. Of course, if you can ask for sprouted Ezekiel bread this is probably better. But they aren’t always available at parties so try rye bread first. And if that isn’t available, go for the whole grain one, or opt out of bread.

#6: Chew 20 times before you swallow and savor every bite

Eat as if you were making love.

Treat food as your friend. Rather than thinking “more food is better”, taste your food. Smell your food. Savor your food. Be thankful for your food.

Chew mindfully for 20 times before you swallow. You will then give your brain more signals that your stomach is full.

And, if you ate a bit too much of your mince pie…..

#7: Take a Trip, Play Outdoors!

Instead of associating pleasure with food, why not rewire your brain and associate pleasure with play? 😉

Whether it be taking a trip locally and flying out to an exotic location, go play outside. Challenge your limits and do something adventurous, especially if you are bored of the gym.

Here are a few fun activities to do:

  • Skiing
  • Surfing
  • Kitesurfing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Wakesurfing
  • Snowboarding
  • Hiking

But… the weather is too cold!  Your body gets used to the cold weather the more you exercise in these conditions. And you can actually burn more calories, especially if you are shivering. You may not be able to show your six-pack ab in a wetsuit, but it is a great way to gain those six packs for the summer.

By spending time playing in the snow or water, these activities won’t seem like a workout to you. You are likely to exercise longer since you are having fun, so you easily burn more calories. And there’s an added bonus of meeting more attractive people of the opposite sex at the same time.

If you’re lucky enough to be on a beach vacationing during the holidays, play and show off your six-pack in the water!

Staying in shape during the holidays require discipline. By prioritizing your health, you feel energetic and healthy. Taking the simple steps above will save you from nasty hangovers and guilt-laden fat days. You will feel more vitality than ever to start the year. And your sustained efforts will pay off in the long run. Isn’t it time to get ready to show off your six packs? 😉


Now I’d like to hear from you. What are some creative ways you use to stay in shape during the holidays?