This time of year there are plenty of messages about controlling your appetite over the holidays, not overindulging, strategies for avoiding eating too much, how not to be a drunken glutton and avoiding feasting like you’re being sent to the electric chair …
Fuck that. Fuck all of that.
Here is some way better advice: To not gain weight over the holidays, sustain caloric balance.
Wanna eat more? You must also move more. I know this is a quip on the deplorable “eat less, move more” bullshit weight loss advice that helps precisely five more people than zero. But the math is still undeniable. My feelings on eat less, move more is that it’s like telling someone who fell out of a boat and doesn’t know how to swim to “drown less, swim more.”
The reality is that if someone doesn’t know how to swim, you need to throw him or her a life preserver. Managing calories requires knowledge and practice; it can’t be boiled down to a sound bite.
This takes some knowledge, and some practice.
Last spring I went to an all-inclusive resort with awesome food and I oinked but good. I did the same thing the previous spring as well.
And no weight was gained.
Because I was on vacation.
Because I was on vacation, I didn’t have to park my ass in front of a computer all day.
There were times I parked my ass in a cabana next to a sexy babe in a bikini and read a book.
But there were also lots of times I was running, lifting, swimming, walking and getting naked with that sexy babe.
Sorry about that last part.
Winter is coming.
I live in Canada, and I tell my fellow Canadians that if you don’t like winter, you live in the wrong country. Hating the weather for six months of the year is a shitty way to go through life.
I will pig out this holiday season. I mean Christmas. Don’t want people accusing me being on the wrong side of the war on Christmas.
Anyway, I will eat. And I will drink.
But I will not be spending my day in front of a computer. I will be on vacation.
I will make sure my house is clean for guests. I will run. I will shop. I will lift weights. I will play with my kids. I will go for walks. I will cook. I will wrap presents and put up dead trees in the living room and bright colored lights around the house and shovel snow and go sledding and dammit I just cleaned the house two days ago how did it get messy again and wow that’s a lot of snow to be shoveled and hey baby you’re looking fine wanna head upstairs?
What I won’t do is trade one screen for another. I’m not going to trade my desk chair for the couch. I won’t trade a computer screen for a TV.
Yeah, there will be TV, in moderation, but there will be a lot of movement.
THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN TRAINING FOR!
I’m in good shape. I can handle the extra physical activity. Exercise should never be used as a punishment for indulgence, but it can be a strategy for attaining caloric balance.
Even the Center for Disease Control thinks it’s a good idea.
So move away from the screen. Move away from the cushiony chairs and couches and just move. Adopt a mentality of “I’ll do it” when it comes to getting shit done around the house. Help out. Lend a hand. Go outside. Chop some wood for the fire. Pull the kids on the sled. Take a ski day or three. Hit the gym harder, longer and more frequently.
Don’t pig out too hard, however. You can only handle so much activity, and it’s very possible to out eat even the most rigorous regimen. Choose your indulgences wisely. Choose full over bursting.
Fall asleep each night with a full belly, utterly exhausted, and yet in balance.
James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for AskMen.com and a regular contributor to Men’s Health.