This is a common question, convenient excuse, hopeful reason, and consistent dilemma. Do you work out so you can eat whatever you desire? OR, do you eat to fuel you workouts and your health? The holidays are here and along with them come the well known culprits for weight gain culminating the years end. On average people end the year 5 to 10 pounds heavier due to the plentiful eating threats abounding these next weeks. One holiday tendency, is we let the day timer crowd out fitness “me time” for a variety of events during this celebratory year ending season. A secondary holiday tendency is we over eat, and then attempt to compensate by increasing workout frequency and intensity. Neither of these two tendencies is beneficial. So, it’s back to the question: Do I workout to eat, or do I eat to workout?
Let’s be clear; you simply can not out train bad nutrition. Increasing your work out frequency and intensity to compensate for poor food and drink choices, generally leads to physical and emotional burnout accompanied by injury. You have to recover emotionally and physically in between bouts of exercise. Additionally, exorbitant calorie intake requires time to burn off. Nonathletic persons such as we, can not consume say 8000 calories one day, and burn it off the next day, or the day after that, and so on and so on, as each day you’ll eat additional calories to fuel THAT day. Holiday binges have lasting effects, as what you eat is 70% of the fitness equation.
Start with a plan of attack to “work through” the holiday food and social barrages heading your way. First, change the mindset of “I’ll work out, in order to eat and drink what I want” (workout to pig-out) in to “I will eat and drink what I want to in order to propel my fitness forward” (workout to lean out). Having a mind shift away from destructive thoughts of doing what you want because you work out, to doing things that align you, with your goals and with your work outs is a better mental mind frame. The latter is about long term commitment, while the former is about now. “Now” fitness goals never work. “I am going to work out hard so I can party hardy and consume mass quantities” has and end date……..the party. Once the goal; the party, or party’s are over, getting back on track is too challenging. Hang over’s and bloated belly’s don’t wake you up to thoughts of “lets hit the gym”. Let’s face it, comebacks are hard, so avoiding them by pacing yourself with long term plans and commitments are the better angles of attack.
Secondly, attack food threats by going to events “full”. Eating before hand puts you in charge of what you ARE eating, and when done this way, still allows for nibbles and samples of the party fare. A pre event full glass of water will also slow down your urge to eat, by sending the signal that you are full. Going to events ravished is a recipe for disaster, particularly when coupled with alcohol. Alcohol dulls our sense of taste, smell, satiation, and judgment, while at the same time enhancing our boldness and sense of confidence. It may be fun, yes, but the payback, hardly worth it.
Lastly, pick your sampling fare of food and drink smartly. If you have a balanced approach to things you can eat what you want to. It’s all about portion size, frequency and the quality of our food and beverage choices along the way to the events, AND at the events. No one is saying “NO” here. A balanced approach means moderation and recognition when you are coloring outside the lines. Abstinence creates acute demand as we all want what we can’t have. It’s our human nature. If you have a balanced approach to your workouts; their consistency, frequency and intensity, AND you keep a watchful eye on what your eat, in order to fuel your health and your workouts, you can enjoy the treats of the season and stay on track to bring in 2012 with the fitness style that puts an exclamation point on all of your 2011 hard fought gains.