Personal trainer Emily Newman knows a thing or two about maintaining fitness and health over the holidays—she’s been a trainer with Onelife Fitness Skyline in Falls Church for over 16 years, counts her macros, and sees around six clients per day, plus is certified across the board to train on hardcore stuff like kettlebells.
When it comes to eggnog-fueled gatherings, Newman relies on intuitive eating. “Be mindful of how you want to feel before you eat. I can remember a Thanksgiving where I felt so bloated I almost had to unzip my pants,” she says. “The true meaning of the holiday meal is to be social with friends and family and enjoy everyone’s company… There is no reason to miss out on anything, but also no reason to go overboard, either.”
Here are Newman’s pro tips for staying on track during the most gluttonous time of the year.
- Eat a normal breakfast so you have great energy.
- Drink water all day long before your holiday meal. “A lot of times we think we’re hungry when we’re really just thirsty,” says Newman. Water also helps to flush out toxins and maintains regularity.
- Get in a quick workout. “If you’re short on time, opt for a fat-loss, 30-minute workout where you can make the most out of lifting and cardiovascular work by adding in plyometrics. If you don’t have any weights or time to get to the gym, do a bodyweight workout, go for a long walk, a short jog—just get moving and burn some calories since you may be eating more than normal.”
- Carbs are not the enemy if you use them to your advantage. “In terms of a day when you’re going to eat a holiday meal, I would suggest reducing your carbs just slightly so you can leave room for extra goodies. Eat your carbs around your workout, or when you need the most energy, like breakfast or pre- or post-workout. A post-weight lifting workout is the only time that your body uses higher-starch carbs to aid in muscle building rather than fat-storing.”
- Stay ahead of your hunger, filling up with protein and fiber such as low-starch fruits and vegetables during the day to stay satiated and reduce the urge for foods that don’t serve your goals.
- “Don’t starve yourself! That is a sure set-up to overeat at your holiday dinner,” she says.
- Use the 15-Bite Rule. “I always tell clients to have as much protein and low starch veggies that they want, and then take about 15 bites of any other starch. A bite is approximately the size of a tablespoon, so you can eyeball it. If it were me, I would save a lot of my bites for dessert. Don’t forget—alcohol counts as a starch, too.”