I love the Holiday season.
There are so many wonderful things about the Holidays like spending time with family, feasting, hot cocoa, baking cookies, decorating the house, holiday parties, traveling, kids are home from school, shopping, and gift wrapping. It's a time of joy and merriness but it also can be a BUSY time of year for most.
Usually, the period between Halloween and New Years wreaks havoc on people's fitness and nutrition. Schedules get crazy and added stress can affect sleep, which can throw off your workout routine. Holiday parties and baking and leftovers around the house leave you with endless opportunities to give in to temptation. The average weight gain can be anywhere from 3-7 pounds over the holiday season. In the grand scheme of things, that winter coat can be shed over the next month or two but why go through that vicious yo-yo weight gain and loss process?
Be smart this holiday season! I believe you shouldn't restrict yourself from things you love and enjoy, but it can be helpful to practice moderation in all areas through this crazy time of year.
Here are a few tips to consider so that you don't turn into that person who says "New Year, New me" and starts a crash diet and crazy fitness routine on January 1st...
It can be overwhelming. Maintain a positive attitude and use this time to explore yourself and grow mentally. Remember that at the end of the day, food is JUST FOOD. Yes, it fuels you and provides you the nutrients and energy you need for workouts or even just daily life. But it also is just food... Your food choices don't equal your value as a human being. Things may not go exactly as planned, you might over indulge at a holiday party, or you may under eat because you were just THAT busy one day... that is OK. This time of year can be difficult for most people so just know that you are not the only one struggling. Take it easy on yourself. Remember the bigger picture and what the holidays are all about!
Stick to your routine/schedule.
Life gets busy but trying to stick to your normal gym, meal, and sleep schedule can really help keep you on track. Meal prepping and eating your normal healthy meals a majority of the time will limit weight gain. If you have your food prepared like normal, it keeps you on track by wanting to eat those meals instead of allowing them to go to waste. Stick to the same gym schedule as much as possible. That is your YOU time. Write it down in your planner or plug it into your calendar. It's like a date with yourself, you can't cancel that! And get some sleep... the stores will still be open tomorrow to get your holiday shopping done (or better yet, order online from your bed!!). Make a schedule and stick to it.
Be prepared and plan ahead.
You are the only one who is in charge of you. You control the outcome of your daily choices and habits. Continue to prep your healthy meals to eat majority of the time AKA be prepared every day! If you know you won't make your normal gym time on a Saturday and you normally rest Thursdays, maybe switch it up and get that extra sweat sesh in on a Thursday. If you know you are going to be indulging in a larger meal that day, stick to your normal healthy food like normal beforehand. NEVER go to a party starving... that just leads to binging on everything in sight. Going shopping all day? Pack some healthy meals or snacks with you so that you don't skip eating or grab something at the food court. Going to a family members house for dinner? Get your workout done beforehand so that you have a little room for those extra calories! Traveling? Look up a CrossFit box or gym ahead of time in the area, check their schedule, call/email ahead of time and set up a time to drop in. Drop-ins while traveling are my favorite!
Indulge with awareness. Practice moderation.
If you have a holiday party coming up that seems overwhelming, remember food IS NOT the reason you are attending the event... spending time with friends, family, loved ones is. Focus on the event, the people there, and any activities that may go on at the event. That buffet of food over in the corner is just food. Make sure to not starve yourself all day leading up to the event and then binge on the entire buffet table. Eat like you normally would that day. Eat a solid meal beforehand so that you aren't so hungry that you grab everything in sight. If you still want to eat some of the food at the event, eat a lighter meal and then pick a few choices from the buffet and savor each bite. Eat slowly and enjoy the food you are chewing. Taking the time to really taste the food and satisfy those cravings can help you to be aware of how the food makes you feel and also allows you to notice your fullness sooner so that you may stop eating once you are actually full. That's another thing, eat until you are full and satisfied and THAT'S IT. Just because you are having something not in your "diet" do not give you an excuse to go crazy and shove everything and anything in your mouth. MODERATION. That's one of my favorite words. Yes, I will have a cookie or two. Yes, I will indulge at a family gathering and eat more than normal. NO I will not eat and eat and eat until it hurts. Craving something? Eat it and then MOVE ON. Don't let it ruin the rest of your day or even week. Have some self control and save those special treats for when it is really worth it!
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE that you have to keep up with every day. It's not a phase or a fad and it's full of challenges but also many victories, big or small. Celebrate the small victories you may have... like saying no to that extra piece of pie staring at you or getting your workout in when you didn't think you had time. Those are WINS in my book. Focusing on those wins allows you to feel the progress you are making both mentally and physically. If you do indulge, it isn't the end of the world. Embrace the slip-up and learn from it. MOVE ON. Enjoy the holiday season and make the most of this time with family and friends. Making good, healthy choices a majority of the time will allow you to maintain your health and fitness while still enjoying the fun things like cookies or hot cocoa.
It's that time of year again where it's flu and cold season. Maybe you or someone around you (work, family, friends, fellow gym-goers) is getting sick. Being sick seriously sucks. I usually get sick when least expected and it is always the WORST timing. Last week, I started feeling sick Tuesday morning and I was leaving for Florida the following morning... just my luck right?
So many people have been asking me about training through sickness. Do you stay home and rest, push through, or attempt a half effort workout? Personally, I would say it depends on the situation. Are you sick with just a tiny head cold, the flu, or a stomach virus (or something along those lines)? There's a difference between just feeling under the weather and actually be SICK.
Feeling under the weather would mean you have a very mild cold, maybe you are stuffy or have a slight cough. In this scenario, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You know your own body better than anyone else (and better than google). If you feel fine other than a little bit of a runny nose or something along those lines then I would say go ahead and workout normally if you are feeling up to it. It's really your choice here but know that working out intensely suppresses your immune system even more which could potentially cause your cold to get worse. From personal experience, I will normally just push through a cold and continue with my training but I will also listen to my body. Instead of my normal strength session, metcon, accessory work, I might cut out one of those things or just lower the intensity a little bit. Usually I will start feeling better in a few days of a little lower intensity training, plenty of sleep, chugging water, and taking some extra vitamins!
Being sick could mean you have either a viral or bacterial infection. Examples would be feeling fatigued, hot or cold spells, severe headaches, body aches, body pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Typically, any of those listed symptoms mean you are definitely sick and you should REST. Trust me, I know from very recent personal experience (AKA last week)! I competed in a 2-day competition on Saturday and Sunday and my body was pretty beat up but I had definitely felt worse before so I decided to train regularly on Monday. Tuesday morning rolls around and I woke up not feeling too hot. I had stomach pain and bathroom issues (TMI) but I tried to talk myself into believing that it was no big deal. I went to the gym and started mobilizing and got out my gym gear but even just walking around I felt fatigued and yucky. I stood there debating to try to train or not but ended up deciding to LISTEN TO MY BODY. I felt so yucky and was still so sore and I knew that if I attempted to do anything at the gym, it would've been a waste of energy and pretty much doing more damage than good. I am SO glad I listened to my body because I got home and started having heat/cold flashes and realized I had a high fever and was definitely in no condition to workout. I rested up, drank tons of water, took medicine, slept, took a hot shower, etc. I made sure not to push getting back to training until I was feeling up to it. I rested Tues/Wed, did a light workout Thursday evening that felt okay, rested Fri/Sat/Sun. That is pretty much a record for me. Normally, I only take one full rest day a week and even then, sometimes I end up training on that rest day anyways so for me to be off for almost a week total is a big WOW. But I knew my body needed it to get back to feeling good and being healthy!
My biggest advice would be when you are feeling sick, get as much rest as possible (especially the first few days/first week). If you are feeling better, get back to the gym the second week. I wouldn't jump right back into 100% effort training that first day but maybe give yourself lower expectations and workout a little lighter than you'd like to. This might mean moving at a slower pace or using lighter weights or scaling some of the movements back. That is totally fine. Nobody is going to judge you... you are recovering from being sick and don't want to push too hard and make yourself feel worse.
It takes more courage to rest when you're sick than it does to just push through sickness and end up making yourself feel worse. That period of rest can only help your body. Yes, you may be missing a few workouts but overall, your body is screaming at you that it needs a break so LISTEN. We all get sick at some point... it's unavoidable. But the best thing to do is know your body and listen to it. Stay home if you are sick and keep those germs away from all of your friends at the gym who have to use the equipment after you. Spreading sickness at the gym isn't cool. If you are going to train though a cold: be aware of others, spray down and disinfect any equipment you use, wash your hands before and after, carry hand sanitizer with you, and cover your mouth when coughing/sneezing.
Rest. Recover. Sleep. Drink water. Eat healthy. Be patient. Listen to your body.
Nutrient timing simply means eating your macronutrients (such as carbs, fat, protein) in specific amounts, at specifc times throughout the day or around your workouts (before, during, after).
For those who need a little refresher on what exactly macros are and how each one plays a role in our body:
Macronutrients are the three main food groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Your body needs all three to survive and function properly. Each macronutrient has a different purpose and we all need different amounts of them depending on various factors like our weight, gender, activity level, and other things. Protein is the essential for building and maintaining muscle. Carbs are your bodies prefered souce of fuel. And fat slows down the digestion of carbs/protein and leaves us feeling fuller longer. A few examples of good sources of protein would be fish, chicken, lean beef, bison, whey powder, yogurt, milk, and eggs or egg whites. A few examples of carbohydrates are brown rice, potatoes, oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, and ezekial bread. A few examples of fats are nut butters, olive oil, avocado, butter, nuts, coconut, seeds, egg yolks, and cheese. We often track these macros to get the optimal ratio for our bodies to perform, feel, and look our best.
Now back to nutrient timing... I'm going to answer a couple common questions & give you my opinion & talk about what has worked best for me.
Who is nutrient timing essential for?
I am sure mostly everyone can benefit from some form of nutrient timing but for those who aren't exercising, timing is not very important. For this type of person, they should mostly just focus on WHAT and HOW MUCH they are eating (lean protein, veggies, healthy fats, unprocessed carbs... eating enough for daily life but not overeating excess carbs that their body won't use since they aren't exercising).
If you are someone who is just working out a few times a week and looking to get healthier in general, nutrient timing won't necessarily produce instant results. BUT, it will help you to feel better and more energized in your workouts!
Athletes and those training regularly can benefit greatly from timing their nutrients around their training schedule. As atheltes, we have higher energy needs and specifically carbohydrates/fat will either increase or decrease our athletic performance based off of the time of consumption and ratio of carbs.
Nutrient timing is extremely benefical for athletes who are competitive, training more than once a day, training in one longer session, and those wishing to alter their body composition without muscle loss due to excessive weight loss. Nutrient timing is not as important for general weight loss, novice lifters, or general health.
How should I time my nutrients?
Everyone's bodies are different but the general rule of thumb is spacing your meals out evenly throughout the day. The amount of macros in each meal with vary depending on the individual and also their workout schedule/goals/etc. The typical "three large meals a day" or "eat every two hours" isn't necessarily the answer. In my opinion, eating every 3-4 hours during the day is what works best for me! Each time you eat, consume a balance of protein, carbs, and fat. YES, each time you eat, try to consume some type of protein. People often want to just snack on an apple and veggies. Nothing wrong with those foods but most often I see people not eating enough protein. If we make it a goal to eat protein at every meal, there's no excuse not to hit our protein goals!
I personally like to eat 6, YES SIX, meals a day. However, two of them aren't full on meals. If I am training in the moring, I typically will have breakfast, my post-workout shake, lunch, lunch 2, dinner, and then casein protein before bed. I am eating six times a day with a different amount of macros at each meal. I focus on eating every 3-4 hours but don't stress over specific times. If I am off by a little bit, oh well. But the goal is to get a stready stream of protein and nutrients throughout the day!
When to eat what macros around my workouts?
Protein: Spread it out evenly throughout the day. Do not try to eat all of your protein in one sitting. If I am eating six meals a day and my goal is 160 grams of protein, I would eat 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. Protein is helpful for building muscle and even maintaining muscle tissue. It is essential for the body to repair, develop, and maintain muscle. This is the macro I often stress that my athletes make sure they are consuming enough of daily. Athletes (especially those who are having longer training sessions or those who train fasted in the early morning) benefit from consuming a protein shake intra/post workout.
Mmm... carbs! I love carbs. They are your bodies preferred macro for energy. Your body can store carbs for later use. The frequency of carbs in your meals for general fitness and health isn't important but for an athlete, timing your intake of carbs close to your workout is ESSENTIAL. Consuming carbs before your workout tops of your glycogen stores (carbs are converted to glucose and used as fuel), prevents the body from burning muscle as fuel by instead using the glycogen, and it allows your body to use carbs first over protein and fat. Prior to training, I would typically suggest consuming around 30% of your daily intake of carbs. For example, if I am eating 200 grams of carbs a day, 30% of that is 60 grams. I would eat 60g of carbs in my pre-workout meal which should be consume 1-3 hours before training. You can divide them into more than one meal if you have the time but if you are training after one meal, eat them all in one meal. DO NOT try to eat this large of a meal any closer than an hour beforehand. Your body will still be digesting the food and it's main focus will be on that rather than peforming at your best. Post-workout carbs are probably the most important! This should be your biggest consumption of carbs, typically 30-40% of your daily carbs within the first 1-2 hours afterwards. Consuming the large amount of carbs after working out replenishes your glycogen stores that you just used up. If the amount of carbs seems like a lot to you, try drinking your protein shake and having a banana while still at the gym and then consuming the rest of your carbs in your next actual meal. You will be left with about 30% about your daily carbs to spread out throughout the rest of your meals. This is just a general guideline, it doesn't have to be exactly these percentages but just know to consume a larger amount of your carbs before and after training!
Typically, you want to eat your fats father away from your workout. For example, if you aren't working out until 6:30pm at night, your earlier meals will consist of higher fat with your protein and lower carbs. Your fat amounts will taper off throughout the day as you get closer to your workout. Fat can be stored four later use. Since fat is slow digesting, you should consume less prior to and right after training. It takes longer to digest and can slow down your bodies absoprtion of carbohydrates which will be used mostly in your workout. I suggest eating your meal with the highest fat when you tend to get hungriest during the day or you will be going a long time without food. The fat satisfies hunger feelings and keeps you fuller longer.
As I talked about above, I typically eat six meals a day. My timing of my nutrients varies depending on when I workout but I will give you an example. Let's say my macronutrient ratios are 125g Protein / 240g Carbs / 45g Fat. If I am working out at 10:30AM, I following this loose guideline for my meals:
Meal 1 - 8:00AM: 21g protein / 60g carbs / 5g fat
Meal 2 - Post-workout shake: 20g protein / 25g carbs / 0g fat
Meal 3 - 1:30PM: 21g protein / 75g carbs / 5g fat
Meal 4 - 4:00PM: 21g protein / 40g carbs / 10g fat
Meal 5 - 7:30PM: 21g protein / 30g carbs / 10g fat
Meal 6 - Bedtime: 21g protein / 15g carbs / 15g fat
Notice how my protein is pretty evenly spaced out between my meals, my carbs are higher closer to my workout with low fat, and the carbs decreases as the day goes on while the fat increases. Consuming a high protein and high fat meal before bed allows the body to get a slow, steady stream of nutrients during the night hours while your body is fasting.
Nutrient timing for rest days isn't as important. Just focus on eating balanced meals spread out evenly throughout your day and possibly saving a large meal for the point of the day where you feel the hungriest.
If your results have stalled/progress has stalled, give nutrient timing and macro tracking a try. However, the total amount of macronutrients you eat during the day is more important than the timing if the nutrients for altering body composition and optimizing performance. Consuming enough calories (while making good food choices) to meet your bodies demands is essential and should be prioritized. In order of importance, I would say that it is 1) how much you are eating.. 2) WHAT you are eating... 3) how often you are eating. Focus on the first two parts to start. Once we have that part down, nutrient timing is encouraged!
Everyone's body is different and will require different things. There isn't one magic plan that work for everyone. Try new things. Log your results/progres/feelings. Track your food intake. Do whatever works for you. Email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
I am passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle for myself & helping those around me.