Ghosts of Christmas Gains, Maintains and Losses
The data doesn’t lie. We know for a fact that tracking and healthy habits seem to fall by the wayside around the holidays. For good reason, celebrations and merriment typically trump workouts and meal prep and goals tend to take a back seat from Thanksgiving to New Years.
We’ve mapped out a few different scenarios to give you an idea of what your path might look like when you completely throw in the towel, or conversely if you adhere to your plan and stay the course.
For the purpose of demonstrating the impact of different lifestyle choices over the holidays, we have created a fictitious persona named Beth.
In August, Beth decided she wanted to lose ten pounds before the New Year. It’s the beginning of December now and she’s established a solid routine over the last four months. She typically exercises 3-4 days a week, logs her food in Cronometer and is (almost daily) in a caloric deficit.
It’s the holiday season now which presents a few hurdles to reaching those goals. Beth’s choices can result in an array of different outcomes, which we explore below.
Approach 1: Fun Times Ahead
Like many of us, Beth loves the holidays. She wants to immerse herself in the celebrations, without having to worry about the impact on her diet. Beth replaces her nightly gym routine with social events, but she is confident she will resume the exercise routine come January 1st.
With little time to spend on her phone, and no interest in seeing the calories adding up from holiday treats, Beth stops tracking in her Cronometer account.
Those 300-400 calories typically burned per night at the gym, 3-4 nights a week are now replaced by extravagant dinners accompanied by desserts, holiday treats and a glass of eggnog. This tacks on a lot more than she bargained for; averaging out to the tune of an extra 600 calories per day.
If Beth keeps up this routine for roughly 30 days, she will likely see a gain of about 5.14 pounds. This adds up in a set back of over 50% of her original goal.
Approach 2: Little of A Little of B
In this scenario, Beth is conscious of her goals but still wants to enjoy big celebrations. She creates an action plan before the holidays that will satisfy both. By putting herself into a slight caloric deficit during the week (which means ignoring those baked goods brought into the office), she budgets for big meals over the weekend.
Not wanting to stray too far from her goals, she tracks Monday – Friday. Beth also wants the freedom of enjoying the weekends so doesn’t touch Cronometer to log her eats on either Saturday or Sunday.
Since she doesn’t want to lose any of her hard earned progress, she relaxes her gym schedule. She still manages to workout a few times a week, but gives herself the flexibility to skip those 7:00 AM spin classes.
Because she’s reduced her intake during the week by 200 calories a day (5 x 200 = 1000) she has created a “budget” of 1000 extra calories to enjoy at those parties.
At the end of the holidays, Beth hasn’t progressed, but she hasn’t taken a step back either. She’s maintained her weight and fully saturated herself into the most wonderful time of the year!
Approach 3: Staying the Course
Beth decides the ultimate Christmas present to herself is to keep her eyes on the prize and realize her initial goal before the end of the year. It might seem like a lofty goal during a time when diets typically get derailed, but she has two pounds left to lose. Overall health trumps the satisfaction of devouring her mom’s secret family recipe for sugar cookies.
She creates an action plan before the holidays to identify potential barriers to success. The culprits: office parties, the abundance of tempting treats and the reduced hours at her local gym.
Beth makes sure she eats a meal that hits her macro goals before attending any celebrations so she’s well satiated. She also allows a budget for a small treat or two so she’s not completely deprived. After all, a sustainable diet is the best one.
As for the gym closures, she pivots and laces up for outdoor runs to still get her workout in.
At the end of the holidays, Beth staying on track has allowed her to lose the two pounds, achieving her goal and starting the New Year without vowing to lose weight for the first time in years.
No Right or Wrong
When it comes to the holidays, there is absolutely no right or wrong way to approach your strategy. It truly is a choose your own adventure that shouldn’t come ridden with guilt or shame. Whatever your path of choice, all of us at Cronometer are wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!