It’s officially the Holiday Season and that means it’s time to gain a bunch of weight over the next 30 days and start the new year feeling like crap, right? I know it seems kinda crazy when I say …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 204 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, the weight loss coach for runners and today, five tips to avoid gaining weight this holiday season. So it’s officially the holiday season. And that means it’s time to gain a bunch of weight over the next 30 days and start the new year feeling like crap, right?
I know it seems kind of crazy when I say that out loud, but the truth is, though, that’s the way most people do it. Most people gain a bunch of weight during the holidays. And then at some point, they swear a solemn oath that they’ll get back on track in January.
And I know what this feels like. I’ve done this many, many times. I also know how terrible it feels when January comes around. And you have to lose a bunch of weight just to get back to where you were before Thanksgiving. So in this episode, I’m gonna offer a better approach for this whole time of the year.
Okay, I have five tips to avoid gaining weight this holiday season. But first, I talk a lot about losing weight and improving your health and fitness here on the podcast. And I know all of this can feel a little overwhelming.
So, if you’re looking for a good place to start I’ve created a free hour long training just for you called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner. In this training video you’re going to learn how to fuel your body properly so you can lose weight and improve your running, because there is an answer, you can do both.
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Okay, so this is actually a replay episode that I did, I think about a year ago. I always like to talk about this topic around this time of the year, the holidays and how most people gain weight during the holidays.
And I started looking through my notes and I thought this episode is perfect I’m just going to replay this episode, so that’s what you’re getting today. You’re getting a replay of this episode from last year. But it’s important information, and I think you’re going to get a lot out of it. And it offers a very different approach to the holidays, different from the way most people do it.
Just because you’ve done something in the past doesn’t mean you have to continue doing that going forward. Okay, so this year, this holiday season I want to challenge you to do something different. Okay, so listen to this episode, I think you’re going to get a lot of it. You’re going to get at least five, okay, it’s called Five Tips To Avoid Gaining Weight This Holiday Season.
But this is just one of those things I feel very strongly that there is a much better way to approach the holidays, you don’t have to gain weight, you don’t have to slip into old habits, you don’t have to start the New Year feeling like crap.
There is a better way to do it. So, anyway, always always if you’re looking for help with any of this stuff, you can reach out to me. We can talk about coaching, just head over to my website runningleancoaching.com and click on Work With Me.
So anyway, without further ado here are my Five Tips To Avoid Gaining Weight This Holiday Season.
Okay, so today, I got these tips for you. I got some tips to help you avoid gaining weight this holiday season. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. And so many people think that this time of the year they will automatically gain weight. In fact, so many people think this because the average adult American says that they expect to gain around seven pounds during the holidays. That’s a lot of weight to gain in a month, right.
And one in four of those people say that they’re still carrying extra weight from the previous year. And so you know, let’s just say it’s a few pounds, I mean, you’re this is just this time of the year, you’re just going to be continually gaining weight. And if you multiply this by 10 or 20 years, this is a big problem. This can be a huge problem, right?
So, let’s stop this trend right now. Let’s take control of our health and our fitness and our weight for once. Don’t be average. Don’t be the average American. You know, I’ve talked to so many people about changing their diet and eating differently and maybe, you know, giving up things like sugar and grains. And people are like well, but I don’t want to be different. I just want to be able to do what everybody else is doing.
And I’m like to listen, listen, what everybody else is doing isn’t working, there’s like 78% of people in this country have some sort of metabolic dysfunction? Do you really want to be one of the normal people? Do you really want to be one of the average Americans? And this applies to other countries as well. But I say no, I say let’s be, let’s be the minority, let’s be different.
Embrace that, like, don’t be normal, don’t be average. Okay. So instead of expecting to gain a bunch of weight during the holidays, we need to have a different approach, you got to do things differently than the way most people are doing things. And yeah, that means that you might not be indulging in all the Christmas cookies, and all the booze at the parties and all this other stuff that other people are doing.
But guess what, you’re gonna feel so much better when January 1 comes around, and you haven’t gained that seven pounds. And that’s kind of average, I think some people gain more, you know, 10-12 pounds. So for me, here’s kind of the way I used to do it. So this time of the year was always the, well it’s still is pretty much the offseason for running.
And so we’ll do a full marathon. And then we sort of take a break from running. But for me, I never really changed my diet, like I just kept eating the same amounts of food and the same types of food. And of course, I was eating a ton of sugar and a ton of carbs. And so this time of the year, I would always gain weight.
And I would always gain 5-10 pounds somewhere in that range. And then I would always tell myself that yeah, come January 1, everything’s going to change, I’m going to get serious, I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to, you know, start focusing on eating better, and all this other stuff.
And guess what, January 1 would come around, and I would sort of start some of that stuff, I would kinda maybe watch my calories, or start adding food into a food tracking app. And you know, you know, going lower fat and trying to exercise more, and all the things that we’ve tried that really don’t work long term. And I might do it for a short amount of time. But then it became problematic, it became frustrating, became too tedious, and I would just stop doing it. And I would always, you know, I might lose a few of those pounds, but I would always gain a few extra pounds every year, during this time of the year.
And you know, you do that for 10 years. And, you know, I found myself 40, more than 40 pounds overweight. And I was eating what I thought was a really clean diet. You know, I was plant based and I was just eating a ton of carbs. I was a carb-atarian, let’s just say it that way. Eating nothing but sugar and carbs, and running a lot. I was running and training for marathons and ultra marathons.
And it wasn’t that I wasn’t exercising, I was going to the gym two or three times a week, doing yoga a couple of times a week, like I had a regular exercise regimen, I was running like crazy every year. And still I would gain weight during the holiday season. And I couldn’t, couldn’t lose it. And that just kept you know, adding on and packing on more weight and more weight.
So there’s a better way to do this, there’s a better way to get through the holidays. And, and I’m going to give you a few tips here for you to apply and actually take action on because these tips are great. If if you’re listening to this and you’re like, oh, these sound great, Patrick, that’s one thing.
It’s a whole other thing if you take action and actually do what I’m going to suggest that you do here today. Because if you do what I suggest you do here today, you’re gonna get through the holidays in a much different way than somebody who doesn’t take action. Any kind of program like this, anytime we’re talking about improving yourself, it requires something on your part.
You’re not just going to lose weight by listening to somebody talk about what to do, right? You’ve got to take action, you got to do this stuff. Okay? So if you’re the kind of person who loves getting into action and loves, you know, doing, you know, these kinds of tips, then do it. I want to encourage you to just start today.
So here’s the tips I’m gonna give you tip number one, and this is probably the one that most people won’t do. And this is why I’m sort of prefacing this by saying like you have to take action here because most people don’t want to do this. And that is to create a vision for who you want to be on January 1, create a vision for who you want to be on January 1.
How do you want to show up for yourself? How do you want to feel about yourself? How do you want to look? How do you want to feel mentally, emotionally, physically? How do you want to have approached this holiday season? Like, I really want you to get detailed about this future version of yourself. So we’re only talking about 30 days in the future. As we record this, it’s December 1. And so we’ve got, you know, what, 31 days, 32 days, something like that until January 1. So create a vision today.
And I want to encourage you not to just think about this, but to actually write it down. So grab a piece of paper, grab a journal, whatever it is that you want to use, do it on your computer, it doesn’t really matter. But write down in detail as much as you want. How do you want to show up for yourself on January 1, who do you want to be?
Most people don’t do this. Most people are just like, yeah, yeah, whatever, I want to feel good, but whatever. But they don’t really spend any time really thinking about this. But here’s something that’s very interesting. There’s this very powerful thing that happens, when you start thinking about who you want to be in the future, your subconscious mind will actually start moving you in the direction of that vision, your subconscious mind will actually get on board with this plan.
Everything that we want for ourselves, we first have to create in our mind, there’s not one thing on this planet that’s been created that hasn’t first been a thought and a vision, you know, think about things like a rocket ship, or an airplane or the iPhone, all these things were first an idea and a thought.
And then they were written down, and they were then you know, expanded upon, you know, so all these things that we want for ourselves have to start with a thought they have to start with a detailed vision. And when we create this vision for ourselves, it’s important that you get into that emotional state of how you want to feel on January 1.
Do you want to feel like you are regretting your decisions over the last 30 days? Do you want to feel like you have fallen behind or fallen off the wagon, or let yourself down? Or do you want to feel like you’ve built some confidence in yourself, you’ve built some trust in yourself, you said you were going to do some things, and you actually did them. Because that is available to you.
But you first have to start with a vision, you have to start with a detailed accounting of how you want to show up on January one. So don’t skip this step. Do it, I’m gonna encourage you to just do it, write it down, it’ll take you 10 or 15 minutes, spend about that much time writing free, write just as much as you want, or as little as you want. But do this step. Okay.
So that’s step number one, create a vision for who you want to be, and how you want to show up for yourself, and how you want to feel that’s the important part. Because once we get into that emotional state of how we want to feel, we can access that throughout the month, you know, you might have a day where you wake up and you’re like, I really don’t feel like running today, or I really don’t feel like you know, sticking to my plan my food plan today or whatever, you’re gonna be like, oh, but you know what that feeling that I want on January 1? I’m only gonna get that feeling.
If I stick to this plan, if I go out and run, if I go lift weights or whatever. So make sure that you get into that emotional state of how you want to feel on January 1, okay? That’s a very, very powerful state to be in. Okay, that’s how all visions come to life is just creating that vision getting into that emotional state. Okay, so that’s step number one.
The next tip I have for you, after you create a vision, you have to have a plan. You have to have a plan. Most people think that they will just sort of wing it. And I’m just going to tell you right now winging it does not work. If you think well, I’ll just kind of like I’ll get through the holidays, it’ll be fine. I’m not too concerned about it.
But if you’ve got some weight to lose, and you really want to make some changes and you want to get through this unscathed, you want to, you know, show up on January 1 really feeling good about yourself. You have to have a plan. Okay? So that means that you need to write down what you’re going to do to get to that vision that you have for yourself on January 1.
So you have a vision, great, how are you going to achieve that vision? You have to have a plan. I’m going to not eat sugar this month, that’s a plan. I’m going to, you know, work out every day, that’s a plan, I’m going to do yoga three times a week, I’m going to strength train twice a week, I’m going to run three times a week, I’m going to, you know, eat, you know, a good amount of protein at each meal, these are all plans, and you write these things down.
And there’s things that are going to happen this month. So we got holiday parties, we got a couple of holidays, really, we’re only talking about a couple days here, we got like Christmas, and New Year’s right, and then maybe New Year’s Eve, right? So maybe, or maybe even Christmas Eve for some people.
So three or four days really is all we’re talking about, you know, from here on out. So, plan those days, then if you have holiday parties, you’re gonna be going to or family’s gonna be in town or whatever, plan for that stuff, make a detailed plan of how you’re going to achieve your vision for yourself.
And this is what I do with all my clients. We work together on a plan and we get very detailed about what they’re going to eat and what they’re not going to eat, when they’re going to work out, when they’re not, when they’re going to recover. And we put together a detailed plan. And then obviously, you have to work the plan, you have to actually stick to the plan.
But you’re more likely to stick to the plan when you’ve created that vision for yourself. And then you’ve written it down. And then you’ve also written down a plan. I know what I’m doing. I’ve got it written down. You can look at it every day and say, okay, what am I doing today, and then just follow the plan. It seems almost too simple. Create a plan, and then stick to the plan no matter what. But that’s how simple it is. Create a plan and then stick to the plan no matter what.
And it’s that no matter what part that’s kind of important, right? For example, I am working on running every day during the holidays. So if you’re part of the Running Lean Facebook group, and if you’re not, you can join us just search for Running Lean community on Facebook. We are doing the running through the holidays challenge right now, which is to run every day, outside from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day. And that’s 39 days of running.
And it’s just, you know, just gotta run at least a mile each day. So some days, I’m running one mile, some days, I’m running 2, 3, 4, 5, whatever. But the other day, I did not run during the day, I had a busy day. And I wasn’t able to get outside and you know, it gets dark early, it gets dark at like 5:30. And this is like 7pm and it was raining. And it was cold. And it was windy. And I did not feel like running. Not at all did I feel like running.
I had already eaten dinner and stuff. And I’m like, oh my god, I forgot I have to run still. And so you know what I did? I put on my running shoes, and I put on a rain jacket and I just headed out the door. And I got my mile in outside in the rain and the wind and the cold. And I have to tell you that it didn’t feel awesome. When I was out there I was you know, I had to put a headlamp on and you know, watch out for debris in the streets and roads and stuff like that.
But I did it, and I felt good about myself because I stuck to my plan. So I had a plan to run every day. That’s a plan. And then I stuck to the plan no matter what even though I didn’t feel like it. It could have been so easy for me to just say screw it. I am not doing this. I don’t feel like it. And it’s cold and it’s raining and I could have used all the excuses.
But I didn’t do that. I had a plan and I stuck to the plan no matter what. Okay? It’s that no matter what part that’s important, okay, so create a vision and have a plan and then stick to the plan no matter what. Cool.
Alright, my third tip is this. You’ve got to manage stress, you cannot go through this holiday season super stressed out about everything you just can’t. Stress will cause you to hold on to body fat. Stress will cause you to gain weight. The stress response is a glucose response. Being stressed out will spike your blood sugar, will spike your insulin levels and will put you into fat storage mode. And if you’re chronically stressed out and a lot of people are during the holidays, they stay kind of in this chronic state of stress from Thanksgiving through January 1.
I’m going to tell you right now it is going to be very difficult for you to lose weight, in fact, you will probably gain some weight just based on being stressed out during the holidays. So you have to have a stress management regimen, you have to have some sort of routine that you’re doing regularly like every single day to keep stress levels to a minimum.
Because if you don’t, you’re going to have a very hard time losing weight or have a hard time maintaining your weight during the holidays. So there are two types of stress. There’s the stress that we put on our bodies when we work out and maybe we lift weights or we go for a run. And maybe we do some sprint intervals or something like that.
This is called acute stress. And this is the good kind of stress. This is a positive type of stress, we stress our body, we stress a muscle, we stress our cardiovascular system. And then we have a positive adaptation because of that stress. So our muscles get stronger, our cardiovascular system improves, our speed improves, we raise our lactate threshold. So when we put acute stress on our bodies, this is acute and short term, very short term stress, this is a positive thing, this is a good thing we want to stress ourselves out in that way.
The kind of stress that we don’t want to be engaging in is like we’re constantly thinking about, you know, work or relationships or family issues. And we’re just constantly, you know, in a state of chronic stress, chronic stress is the kind of stress that is going to cause us to have that glucose response and cause us to keep our insulin levels high. You know, cortisol is a stress hormone.
When cortisol is high, our body is in that fight or flight mode, we’re in that sympathetic mode. Remember, the sympathetic mode is stress sympathetic for stress s for stress, the parasympathetic mode is, is peace, P for peace. So parasympathetic is when we are calm and relaxed and at peace and the sympathetic nervous system is when we are stressed out.
So we want to tap more into that parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the amount of stress we’re in. So that means that we can’t wait until we’re super stressed out to start working on it and that we have to work on it continuously. That means you have to have some sort of stress relief plan in place every single day.
Some of the things you can do to help reduce stress, meditation, journaling, going for a walk, going for a run, doing some yoga, just taking a nap. Maybe. Naps are very underrated, by the way. Getting enough sleep is super important. Getting good quality sleep, you know, we need seven, eight hours of sleep most of us as adults.
Just doing anything, playing a game, laughing, going to see a movie, doing something with friends, doing something with family, just being silly with your kids, anything like that is going to help to reduce stress, you need to figure out what works for you, everybody’s different. So figure out what works for you and what you can do every single day to make stress management a priority.
Because if you do that, I guarantee you, you’re gonna have a much easier time getting through the holidays and your body won’t be holding on to as much body weight, you won’t be holding on to as much fat you’ll be able to burn fat, we always want to be burning fat, not storing fat. So you’ll get into fat burning mode instead of fat storing mode. And you’ll get through the holidays without all that extra weight.
Okay, so that’s tip number three is to manage stress, and you have to do it every single day. You can’t wait until you’re stressed out to start working on it, you have to manage stress every single day.
And this brings me to my fourth tip, which is to exercise daily. So not only does daily exercise help with stress management, it also helps you to burn fat, you know, so obviously exercise can be helpful to fat burning, especially if you’re doing the lower intensity exercise, you know, you stay in that zone one, zone two, you know, you’re in that aerobic zone. That’s what’s considered sort of the fat burning zone, right?
So if you’re doing some sort of exercise every day, go out and run a few miles. Really easy. Go for some, you know, do a power walk, do some yoga, walk the dogs, play with the kids. It doesn’t have to be something intense but do something every day. And I promise you, you are going to not only feel better, but you’re going to help you to maintain your weight and probably help you to lose a little bit if that’s, you know, one of your goals here.
So, one of the reasons why we want to exercise every day is that when we exercise we get our dose of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. So we get that rush of feel good hormones, and neurotransmitters. And when we have these feel good chemicals kind of running through our body, it puts us in a better mood, it helps us stay in that parasympathetic nervous system state. And we feel good.
It’s not only a good way to manage stress, but it’s a way of keeping our body feeling happy, like it improves our mood as well. You know, also more burning fat, you know, like I said, but it’s just this way of continually feeling good and feeling good about ourselves and feeling good about who we are and what we’re doing. And it’s such a better way to go through the holidays feeling good, as opposed to being, you know, super stressed out and freaking out about all the junk you’re eating and all this other stuff.
So when you’re in a good mood, you tend to make better decisions, when you’re exercising every day, you tend to build some momentum and want to keep exercising, it helps you to, you know, stay on track with your food plan, when you’re exercising daily. This is one of the big reasons why we have this running through the holidays challenge going on right now is because I want to encourage you to get outside every day, and do some exercise and the outside part is important.
During the winter, we tend you know, the days get shorter, and we tend to spend a lot more time indoors, the days are shorter, it’s darker in the morning is darker in the evening, there’s not as much sunlight during the day, we need to get outside and get some sun in our eyeballs, like we need to, you know, have that sun in our face on our bodies, if we can, it’s so important for us to you know, be outside in the elements in the sun.
And it helps to put us in that, you know, good mood, it helps with our serotonin levels. You know, we build serotonin during the day. And that’s what helps to create melatonin to help us sleep better at night. It helps with our circadian rhythms and helps us to sleep, you know, improve our sleep quality during the night when we can get outside into the sun every day.
So I know a lot of days around here, you know, I’m in Cincinnati, and a lot of days around here in the wintertime, it’s just gray, and dark. And there’s no sun. But those days that there is sun, take advantage of that and get outside. We’ve had a lot of gray days here. And then this morning, I went for a run and had to bring my sunglasses with me because it was so beautiful out, very, very cold, very cold.
But the sun was shining and it felt so amazing to be outside and to see the sun and to be in the sun. So exercise daily, put together you know, make exercise daily part of your plan. You know, make it part of your plan, part of your daily plan. And you’re going to get through the holidays feeling so much better about yourself, okay.
And then my last tip is going to be this when it comes to nutrition. We’re all a little bit different. And it’s hard for me to make some recommendations as here’s what you should eat or whatever. So I’m going to give you this tip. And I think this is one of the most powerful tips around nutrition that I can give you and it’s one that is underrated and something that most people just don’t do or maybe they’re not aware of, or they think it would be too hard.
But it’s this, skip some meals, skip some meals, you don’t have to eat three meals a day, every single day all the time. You don’t have to eat three meals a day, plus three snacks a day, plus dessert every single day, you really don’t have to eat that much skip breakfast, skip breakfast and lunch one day.
Skip snacking, skip dessert, like just pick something that you think would work for you. And you don’t have to do this every single day. But just consider skipping some meals. You know, there’s a lot of benefits that you’ll gain from exercising in the fasted state, which means that, you know, if you exercise in the morning, don’t you don’t have to fuel up before you get outside and run.
Just skip it, just skip fueling, you know and try some what we call intermittent fasting. And when people hear that word fasting, they’re like, oh my gosh, that’s, you know, I’m gonna die. I can’t do that. It’s like, dude, no, listen, it’s just like, skip breakfast is our target about here. It’s not that big of a deal.
You know, we’ve been doing this as human beings for millions of years. We didn’t eat all the time. We didn’t have snacks. We didn’t eat dessert, like there were no three meals a day, kind of a deal. Like a lot of times, and a lot of cultures, they eat like once a day, maybe twice a day. And so I think we’ve, you know, in the Western world, we’re under this impression that we have to eat a lot, just all the time. And it’s just not true.
Like we just don’t need to eat that often. Okay, so, one thing I did recently is Thanksgiving Day. And so that was Thursday and then a couple days later on Saturday we did another Thanksgiving with my girlfriend and our kids, well, we all got together. And so we did like two different Thanksgivings, super fun.
But each of those days, I only ate that one meal each day. So I ate one big meal on Thanksgiving, and then one big meal on that Saturday, and I just skipped breakfast, I typically eat twice a day, you know, I’ll have a pretty good sized breakfast around noon, and then I eat dinner around 6pm, 7pm, something like that.
And, and that’s usually good for me. But some days, I just skip that first meal. And, and I feel so much better when I, you know, can skip a meal and, and then I can maybe eat a little bit more at that second meal and still be in a bit of a deficit and still not be overeating and still not be eating, you know, a ton of calories that day.
So for me, it feels really good to skip a meal every now and then. And this is one of the simplest things that you can do to help manage your weight and help you to not gain weight during the holidays. It’s just like, pick a few days a week here and there and skip some of these meals. And you might be surprised how good you feel. You might be surprised how much easier it is to exercise in that fasted state and take advantage of the adrenaline that you get from exercising in the fasted state.
So you actually, you know, people think, oh, I won’t have the energy. But now your body will produce the glucose that you need, your body will produce the adrenaline that you need to be able to actually work out a little bit harder. And then there’s another positive benefit from exercising in the fasted state, which is an increase in growth hormone.
So after exercise, your body will produce more growth hormone, which will help you to recover faster. So not only can you exercise harder in a fasted state, but you can also recover faster. So these are good benefits. And you don’t have to do this all the time. But try it every now and then and see how it goes for you.
Okay, so quick recap, you know of my five tips to avoid gaining weight this holiday season. Number one, create a vision. Who do you want to be on January 1? How do you want to feel and write it down.
Okay, number two, have a plan. Write down your plan. And then write down your plan every week and consult your plan. And make sure you’re staying on track with your plan no matter what.
Number three, you have to manage stress and it has to be something you do every single day.
Number four exercise daily. Get outside if you can do whatever it takes to move your body and to release the endorphins and get the dopamine and the serotonin and all those good feeling chemicals that you get. So power walk yoga, walk the dog, play with the kids, go for a run, lift some weights, swim, bike, whatever you need to do, but do something every day. Do it outside if you can get in the sun.
And then lastly, skip some meals here and there. You don’t have to eat all the time. This is like intermittent fasting simplified, right? It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to do some sort of long three day fast or anything like that. Just like skip a meal here and there. And you might be surprised how much easier it is to get through the holidays without gaining weight.
Cool. All right, you guys, I hope you take some action on these tips here and actually do these things because I guarantee you it’s going to make a difference on how you show up for yourself on January 1. Okay, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean and I will talk to you soon.