The holidays are a wonderful time of year for nearly everyone. You get to spend time with close friends and family and celebrate the end of the year. For those involved in fitness, usually, this can mean it’s a time that is tough to navigate around your diet and/or training.
This year we wanted to provide a little perspective no matter what your goal is! In this article, you’ll read about some RP folks with various goals over the coming holidays, from massing to maintaining to being in a serious fat loss diet phase. Here are the two questions asked.
- What is your overall goal for the upcoming holiday season (Thanksgiving - New Year's)?
- Why are choosing or not choosing to partake in a traditional American Thanksgiving meal or other holiday meals and treats?
Let’s get to their answers!
Dr. Mike Israetel
I'll be dieting for a big show over Thanksgiving, but my diet should be ending on Dec 12th, and then the rest of the year is probably spent in either muscle gain mode or active rest mode!
While I'll certainly partake in Christmas eating, I'll be dieting right through Thanksgiving this time of the year, and will thus eat very diet-friendly versions of the traditional Thanksgiving foods. No, not as tasty, but at this point in my bodybuilding career, making the competitions count is important and definitely worth the tradeoff to me!
I ended a 6-week diet phase on October 1st so I had strategically timed that to end before the holidays. I wanted to be at a point where I could follow the 80/20 rule that we talk about on the RP Podcast so much. My goal is to essentially just maintain my bodyweight around 202 lbs or so from now until the early Spring when I will likely do another small fat loss diet phase.
I will enjoy some good foods over the holidays, including a big Thanksgiving meal, some holiday parties along with some cookies, treats, etc and I will be sure to enjoy some awesome Christmas meals with my family. The big thing for me is getting mostly healthy meals most of the time and not being afraid or nervous to enjoy some good food every now and again. I will keep my lifting and step count up as well.
Dr. Melissa Davis
Last year I decided to not track or worry from Nov - Jan and ate and drank anything I wanted during lots of holiday celebrations and time with friends. I lifted quite a bit so that some of the resulting gains would be muscle but my main goal was just to enjoy life. I gained 16 lb during this time (and it was totally worth it). I ran a short cut and then maintained through most of spring and summer (so that I could enjoy the warm Montana months with food and drink), and am currently running a longer cut that will finish early November. I timed it this way to give myself a few weeks in maintenance before Thanksgiving to make it less likely to go overboard. My goal will be to maintain weight through the holidays, indulging a bit for special occasions.
I’m choosing to enjoy some favorite foods for the holidays but keep my indulgence in moderation since I am coming off of a cut and more likely to rebound. I organized my diet the last ~two years to allow me to have the most fun during certain periods (summer river floats and beer and BBQs + winter holiday season festivities) but still maintain a physique I am happy with.
My goal for the rest of the year is to compete at a national-level bodybuilding competition. My show is slated for the Saturday before Christmas. That means I've dedicated myself to 100% strict adherence until the show. Yes, that means absolutely zero food, drinks, and, more importantly, calories off-plan until then. That means Thanksgiving will be whatever my prep requires.
After my show, I will be eating my weight in yummy food during Christmas while I head into my mass phase. If you're dieting for anything other than a competition, I think it's not only fine but encouraged that you relax and enjoy yourself during holidays while you spend quality time with your friends and family.
I am currently running a fat loss diet using the RP Diet Coach app that is set to end in mid-December. My goal for this diet is slow and steady fat loss, which helps me maintain a high adherence. This holiday season, even though I will still technically be dieting on Thanksgiving, I plan on enjoying myself and my favorite foods (can't say no to a sweet potato casserole and stuffing!). Since the goal is slow and steady over a longer stretch of time, I know that all the days I am consistent and stick to my diet will outweigh one meal of poor adherence. I do expect to see a higher number on the scale the day after Thanksgiving, but I know if I get back on track after and continue my last three weeks, I should be moving in the right direction again to hit my goal!
I will be massing during the holidays for the first time in a couple of years, but I don't necessarily eat much. I don't overindulge on any particular basis but if there happens to be any family event or I hang out with friends then I can assign macros to meals to make these things fit into my diet (even if that means going over on my calories for a bit on ONE DAY. No need to freak out about that). That includes having some mashed potatoes and gravy (sans fats added to either) which is super easy to do all while enjoying the company of everyone.
I don't exactly have large get-togethers. However, I understand this is a large part of most people's family traditions and this includes the "bonding" over meals. Making simple modifications can certainly come in handy.
Tips for this could be to make sure you're deloading during this week (more family time and MAINTENANCE CALORIES FOR THOSE OF YOU IN A DEFICIT). There are TONS of ways to make healthy recipes, but if you are not in control of the recipes (and just eating some food from a loved one) then just take the lower-fat options generally and have fun!
Feel free to also train VERY hard through the holidays so you CAN indulge in some higher carb meals post-training and know that it's going right into muscle growth/retention (this is usually what I'll do). TRAIN HARD, see family after a while you eat some grub! =)
There you have it! Whether you want to live it up, stay relatively on track for a specific goal, or somewhere in between, the choice is yours and no choice is wrong! Plus, there are good ways to go about each strategy. Determine where you are on the spectrum between all-out relaxing and prepping for a bodybuilding competition (strict adherence), act accordingly, and most importantly don't feel guilty about your choice!
We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!