Holiday Food Freedom

As the holiday season approaches, not only are the streets and stores laced with dazzling decorations, holiday treats are also beginning to crowd the scene. From shortbread cookies to exotic cheeses to Christmas edition chocolates—how is one supposed to stay on their fitness train?

I remember I used to feel so anxious and stressed about the holiday season because of the surfeit of dine-outs, gatherings, baked goods, and drinking that threatened my fitness goal. I couldn’t show up at dinners and not eat without being rude, neither would the decadent celebratory meals meet my dietary criteria. For years and years, I used to either starve myself until the party or punish myself with cardio after the parties, just to burn a little more calories.

I want to share some of my struggles and lessons-learned with you, in the hopes that could avoid some of the angst and guilt that I used to feel. There are three tips that I found particularly helpful at arriving at holiday food freedom—both physically and psychologically.

Tip 1: Ditch the All or Nothing Mentality

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post: 6 Tips for Weight Loss and Healthier Lifestyle, the All or Nothing Mentality is detrimental to one’s fitness journey, particularly if you are looking for long-term, sustainable results. For me, I had noticed that the All or Nothing Mentality had often triggered binge eating, because I’d think to myself: If I am already off track, I might as well just make a cheat day out of it and get back on track tomorrow. Except, that is not how the law of thermodynamics works. Our caloric intake and expenditure don’t cap off according to a 24-hour clock when the clock strikes midnight. All the additional calories I had consumed, was carried over to the next day or even to the next few days until my body burns them off, or stores them as fat. Therefore, instead of throwing all of your hard work away, enjoy what you wanted to eat and stop there!

Tip 2: Nourish Your Body

Tackling fitness as a lifelong goal is imperative in changing your paradigm about food. Not all calories provide equitable value to your body. Nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods first will not only better regulate your hunger level, it will help keep your insulin level more stable when you consume other snacks/desserts later. Another benefit to this? You will also have less room for other treats that may make you feel guilty! Win-win.

Tip 3: Give Yourself Permission

Give yourself permission to indulge in the time with your loved ones. Since losing my grandparents some months ago, I have been reconsidering the priorities in my life. I wish I had shared more meals with them. I wish I had learned my grandma’s recipe. I wish I had focused on the conversations with them over our meals shared, rather than quietly counting calories and macronutrients in my head.

Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.

Jack LaLanne

I also want to acknowledge that these Tips are harder said than done. Even after years of practicing, I still sometimes find myself feeling guilty for having over-indulged and wanting to abstain from eating the next day to make up for the caloric surplus from the night before. But all things worth fighting for are deserving of hard work and nothing and no one else is more worth fighting for than your health and mental wellbeing. So don’t give up! Keep working on it!

Happy Holidays💙

6 Tips for Weight Loss and Healthier Lifestyle

THANK YOU for all your generous support of my writing endeavour! It really means the world to me.🤍

As a way of giving back, I thought I’d start a series on Health and Fitness—something that I am unabashedly passionate about, and have invested an obscene amount of time researching on—in the hope that it could be of some use to you.

If you have recently decided to embark on your Health and Fitness and/or Weight Loss journey but are not sure of where to start, here are some simple, easy-to-follow tips!

1. There Are No Quick-fixes

The only guarantees in life are death and taxes. There are no quick-fixes, no guaranteed rules that will help anyone lose weight miraculously. If anyone were to tell you otherwise, they are lying to you.

2. Calories In and Calories Out

The law of thermodynamics is strictly what governs the success (or failure) of your weight loss journey. To burn a pound of body fat, you will need to reach a deficit of around 3,500 calories. When you have reached a deficit of 3,500 calories, then you will lose a pound! No magic, just math.

In order to calculate your caloric deficit, you will need to first figure out how many calories you roughly burn every day, which is also known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This entry level calculator will help you get started. Our TDEE is more complex than what the calculator gives us, which I will dive into later in this series, but for now, this calculator will do the job!

3. Start with a Small Change

Increase your daily activity level by adding a short exercise routine that you can commit to—one that is realistic and not a daunting task for you to accomplish every day. Start with 15 minutes, which is only the approximate length of 3 songs only!

4. Eat More Protein

“Thermic Effect of Food”, or TEF, is the increase of the metabolic rate that occurs from digestion. The simple act of eating foods that has a higher TEF will biologically require your body to burn more calories when digesting them. As a general guideline:

  • Protein: 20-35% of calories burned through processing
  • Carbohydrates: 5-15% of calories burned through processing
  • Fats: 0-5% of calories burned through processing

5. Avoid Drinking Your Calories

There can be a lot of hidden calories in drinks, usually from all the added sugars. Besides the undesirable calories, another hidden pitfall of sugary drinks is the spike in insulin level. When your insulin level subsequently drops from the sugar spike, the dip is when your body sends you hunger signals. In other words, you may feel the munchies (and potentially consume more calories) that your body does not actually need.

6. Change Your Self-talk

Be kind about how you talk to yourself. You are courageous enough to embark on this journey for yourself; allow yourself the grace of patience and time. Weight loss and/or lifestyle changes are not easy nor expeditious. A paradigm shift on this journey will allow you to enjoy the process and make more lasting, sustainable changes. In the grand scheme of a lifetime, what’s a year?

Thanks reading! I hope you found this entry helpful. Stay tuned for more specific workout regiments and nutritious meal ideas.

Change begins at the end of your comfort zone

Roy T. Bennett
Your friendly neighbourhood fitness enthusiast