The average American gains somewhere between 5-7 lbs. between Thanksgiving and New Years. There are feasts, family gatherings, Christmas parties, cookies, and free flowing alcohol all around. It’s a great time of year to celebrate and get together with relatives, friends and people you don’t see as often as you wish. Every year there are newspaper articles, TV reports about Thanksgiving. “Eat in moderation, practice portion control, don’t use gravy, load up on vegetables.” Saying the same thing over and over. Here’s my advice. EAT WHATEVER AND AS MUCH AS YOU WANT! No one has ever gained 5-10 lbs from one big day of eating. Yes the scale might say different, but it’s mostly water and will come off in a day or two. A lot of dieticians recommend cheat days. Have Thanksgiving be your cheat day and enjoy being a glutton. Eat, Drink and Be Merry!
Now that being said, there should be a price to pay. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Plus/Minus, Yin/Yang, etc. There are 8 full days until Thanksgiving. If one can maintain their weight through New Years’, mission accomplished. Here’s my advice. For the next 8 full days, keep your diet clean. You’ll come into Thanksgiving thinner and believe it or not, with a smaller stomach, you probably won’t have to eat as much to get full. Now what do I mean by a clean diet? Simple. Fast two times for 24 hours. That means skip four meals. I’m going to skip Saturday, and next Tuesday. Is it hard? It’s not easy, but it’s a state of mind. Stay as busy as possible to keep your mind off food. Your stomach will feel empty, but you will have a lot more energy. Drink a lot of water that day. At least 100 oz. It will get your liver to fire up your metabolism, wash the toxins out, increase your growth hormone and increase your insulin sensitivity which will help you from gaining fat. Second, avoid bread, pasta, cereal, bagels, chips, sugar anything white and carbohydrate related. Keep your intake of carbohydrates between 100-120 g a day. Eat sweet potato, brown rice, a small white potato, fruit. If it’s wheat or enriched white flour, avoid it. If you insist on drinking, stay away from beer for 8 days or until Wednesday night, which when I was younger, was one of the great nights of the year to go out. When you have carbs, limit them after 3 PM.
So what can you eat? Red meat, chicken, hamburger, fish (not me, allergic since 1992), eggs, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese and all the vegetables you want. Stick to 2-3 meals with a snack on your eating days. For a snack or for portion control, eat almonds or walnuts. A handful of almonds or walnuts before dinner, will definitely cure your hunger. Slow down when you eat. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal that it’s full. Put the fork down between bites, don’t shovel. Plan your fast, get psyched up for it. Google intermittent fasting and read about the good you are doing for your body by resetting it. You will not lose muscle. It takes 72 straight hours of fasting before this occurs. Dieting is like doing sales calls. It’s easier to continue than to stop and start-up again, meaning day 3 and 4 are easier than continuously being on day 1. Another tip, write down everything you eat and review. Writing it down holds you accountable. Write down how you want to look. What weight you want to be, whatever your fitness goals are. Then when you review your food journal, did what you ingest coincide with your goals? You’re more likely to think practically than emotionally. By the way, if you’re not keeping a workout journal, you’re making a huge error. You can do it on-line or in a steno notebook. If you run a business you keep a record of how you’re doing. Same with your workouts. I’m doing Escalated Density Training now and have been not only able to figure out how many reps I need to do each session, I can look back 8 months ago and see the improvement.
After Thanksgiving, enjoy yourself, but for the majority of the time practice the good habits. Fast at least 1 day a week. Monday is usually a great day after a long weekend. If you want to do it two days, then pick Thursday as well so you go into the weekend feeling well. Again, just keep the carbohydrates lower most of the time. I’m not saying completely cut it out, ala Atkins, I’m saying be cognizant of trying to lower your carbohydrate intake.
Finally, workout 3-5 days a week. And I don’t mean jogging, or doing the elliptical. I mean fat burning sweat workouts. Using weights, kettlebells, jumping rope or even playing ball. Currently I’m doing kettlebells 3 days a week and playing indoor soccer once a week. The three days I workout, I’m hitting it hard. You have to earn your days off. Do total body workouts. Monday will not be National Bench Press/Big Back Day, Tuesday won’t be Guns Day and Wednesday won’t be Legs/Cows day. etc.
If you have kettlebells here are some ideas of things you can do.
CIRCUIT TRAINING: The beauty of the kettlebell is you can transition easily from one exercise to another. You can go from swings to squats to clean and press to rows as efficiently as possible without putting the bell down. You can set a timer for 20 -30 minutes and do as many rounds as you can or set the number of rounds at the beginning.
For example: Do as a circuit 10 2 hand swings, 5 Goblet Squats, 5 Clean and Press Left, Right, 5 Rows Left and Right or:
5 Burpees, 5 Snatches Left, Right, 15 Mountain Climbers, 20 2 hand swings, rest until the top of the 3rd minute repeat for 20 minutes.
300 WORKOUT: I haven’t done this one in a while but I used to use a 35 and it was hard. On YouTube, there’s a guy using a 24kg bell and completing it in under 12 minutes. Here’s what you do as fast as you can with GOOD form. 25 V-Ups/Jacknives, 25 Snatches Left, 25 Right, 25 Pushups, 50 swings, 50 burpees, 25 Clean and Press Left, 25 Clean and Press Right, 50 Mountain climbers. The total reps add up to 300. The burpees are awful. Do them in sets of 10 with as little rest as possible.
METABOLIC CONDITIONING: This occurs when you engage your muscular and cardiovascular systems simultaneously. This is done by performing complexes which is basically a string of exercises performed back to back with little or no rest. Brutal for sure, totally. Here’s one I got from Geoff Neupert a while back.
Perform 7 sets, 1 arm at a time,
5 one arm swings, 5 snatches, 5 clean and press, hold bell in rack, 5 reverse lunges, 5 one arm rows. Switch arms. Rest 3-4 minutes and repeat. I did this one about a month ago with a 55lb. kettlebell. It takes about 35 minutes and it really taxes your conditioning as well as your grip. Pat Flynn of Chronicles of Strength has an e-book of a bunch of different complexes. It’s free if not, pretty cheap. I used a 35 single and double 35′s and have done all the workouts. He names them after AC/DC songs and underneath one says “I’ll put it gently as possible. This complex really sucks.” After finishing it, I whole heartedly concurred.
STACKING: Dave Whitley has an e-book on his Irontamer.com website which is 101 Kettlebell Workouts. There are circuits, EDT, GVT, 30 workouts under 30, Tabata Protocol workouts. I think the jewel of it is the stacking. If using a heavier kettlebell do it for reps, light bell do it for time. You stack exercises so there are 5 rounds in each. For example it would go like this:
Swing :30, Rest :30
Swing :30, Goblet Squat :30 Rest :30
Swing :30 Goblet Squat :30 Slingshot (Passing bell around your waist):30 Rest :30
Swing :30 Goblet Squat :30 Slingshot (Passing bell around your waist):30 Clean and Press L:30 Clean and Press R :30 Rest :30
Swing :30 Goblet Squat :30 Slingshot (Passing bell around your waist):30 Clean and Press L:30 Clean and Press R :30 Row L :30 Row R :30
Rest :90 Repeat 3-5 times. This is tough. He has 10 different versions. I’ll use a heavier bell and do it for reps instead.
TABATA PROTOCOL: Pick an exercise and do it for 20 seconds as hard as you can, rest :10 seconds repeat for at least 8 rounds. You can do this with pushups, burpees (good luck), body squats, goblet squats, swings, snatches, jump rope. This is a great finisher at the end of a weight lifting workout. It will really help boost your growth hormone.
Another great finisher is 5 rounds of heavy one arm swings for sets of 15-20 L, R rest :30
A simple quick 10-12 minute workout would be
10 sets of 10 swings alternating with laddered burpees up to 10 burpees which would look like this 10 swings, 1 burpee, 10 swings, 2 burpees, etc. up to 10
If you have 20 minutes and want to work on your snatching, do sets of 5 left and right, rest until the top of each minute. Work up to 20 minutes.
Jump rope for 20 minutes. Rest as necessary, pick up where you left off.
There was a workout on the kettlebellconnecton website last December where you aimed for 7000 swings in a month as well as each day you did TGU’s based on the day on the calendar. You got 4 amnesty days. It came out to about 260 swings each on the day you worked out. If it was December 5th, you did 5 Turkish Getups on each side. Sounded easy until you got to 31. Didn’t try it myself. I like a little more variety in my workouts.
Here would be a way to implement
Tuesday: 300 workout and Tabata workout
Wednesday: MetCon Workout
Friday: Circuit Training
Saturday: Jump Rope/Swings Burpees ladder
All these workouts can be done in under 45 minutes and a majority are under 1/2 hour. You can even combine them on the same day. All will make you incinerate fat. Implement and execute between now and New Years and you’ll be one of the proud minority.