It’s “Black Friday” 2018 as I type this. Thanksgiving is a pleasant recent memory and we can finally justify all of the Christmas commercials and music we’ve been seeing for the past two weeks. Alongside the early commercial push for “buy buy buy!” I’ve been hearing friends talk about how the holidays were going to treat them… or more correctly, how they were going to behave during the holiday season. One thing I heard repeatedly was, “Why should I start eating clean and exercising now? It never works during the holidays. I’ll just start January first and make it a New Year’s Resolution.” Because that always works, right?
Some of those same people were complaining about how all their “hard work” was going to be ruined by Thanksgiving. I addressed that yesterday in some brief social media posts, but I felt the need to address that concern and the forward thinking about the holiday season a bit more in depth. You see, I’m that guy who refuses to buy into negative thinking (or at least I do my best to avoid it). I’m in my fifth week of concentrated cleaner eating and fitness training and I have three more to go. That will put me smack dab in the middle of December and I have no intention of letting a common holiday outlook ruin the investment I’ve made in myself. Real quick, let’s look at some simple numbers and discuss discipline as well as treats or rewards.
One pound equals 3,500 calories. Everyone has a basal metabolic rate (BMR) that is the number of calories they need to function each day at their current weight and activity level. If you want to lose weight, you either 1) eat less than your BMR each day, or 2) you eat cleaner and workout so that your NET calorie intake each day is less than your BMR. As you cut fat weight and grow muscle weight, your metabolism accelerates and you burn more calories even while at rest. As your weight goes down, your BMR also adjusts down so the need to reevaluate and adjust is fairly constant, chronologically speaking.
Using myself as the example, with a BMR of roughly 2,200 calories per day, I’m tracking my intake and trying to stay between 1,200-1,500 calories per day. That shorts me at least 700 calories (net -700) which equates to roughly -4,900 calories per week. That’s just under 1.5 pounds – and those numbers are proven since I’ve lost 6.7 pounds in four weeks, or 1.7 pounds per week. Tuck that away for reference farther down.
Yesterday – that glorious day of feasting for Thanksgiving, I took in a total of 1,976 calories and I did no structured workout; no fitness training. Oh my gosh it was all so good and I felt like such a pig. Surely I had just blown my “diet” out of the water and ruined all my hard work, right? Not hardly. Let’s look at reality. If my BMR is 2,200 and I ate less than 2,000, I still had a negative calorie intake for the day. What’s that mean? It means that if I repeated yesterday for 18 days, I’d STILL be down a pound (-200 calories times 18 days equals -3,600 calories. Remember, 3,500 calories equals one pound). Not only did I NOT undo any of my hard work, I STILL enjoyed a day of working toward my weight loss goals while enjoying all of the traditional foods without any regret or guilt. Further, I have every intention of doing it again on Christmas day!
Now let’s take a look at the bigger picture starting from this past Monday through the end of the year. From November 19th through December 31st, there are 42 days. My current nutrition and fitness regimen has me at a net calorie daily intake of 1,500 maximum. Typically I eat right about 1,500 to 1,600 and then I perform some fitness training to burn off 200-300. That leaves me with a daily net calorie intake of 1,200-1,300. Since my BMR is 2,200 (roughly), I’m seeing a negative net calorie count of -900+ per day. Not every day is perfect and I PLAN structured fitness training four days per week, so some days I only see a net calorie count of -500+ as compared to my BMR. For the rest of this entry, I’m going to split the difference and assume an average negative net calorie intake of -700 per day. That equates to the previously mentioned -4,900 per week or about 1.4 pounds per week.
Using that 42 days remaining in the year (from this past Monday, Nov. 19th), that means I’d potentially lose 29,400 calories between now and the end of 2018. Doing the math, 29,400 calories equals 8.4 pounds. Now, let’s go back to my intake for yesterday (as the example) and remember that on Thanksgiving I only had a negative net calorie count of -200. Oops… it wasn’t -700. It was ONLY -200. I ate 500 more calories than a usual day. Let’s assume I’m going to do the same thing on Christmas day and “only” end up with a -200 calorie count (as compared to my BMR). Taking that +1,000 calories into account, my year remaining loss works out to 28,400 instead of 29,400. The difference? 0.29 pounds; not even 1/3 of a pound.
Wow. So, if I started freaking out about trying to lose weight and/or get more fit during the holiday season, wouldn’t it really just be an excuse not to keep investing in myself? I mean, that’s what I’m doing. I’m investing in my own health and fitness. It’s the time of year to be thankful for what we have and give gifts to friends and family. Part of what we should be thankful for is our health and our ability to improve it. One of the gifts we should give – both to ourselves and those who care about us – is being healthier and happier. And trust me, if you don’t think a happier you is of value to your friends and family, ask them how they feel about an unhealthy, constantly grumpy you.
My point in all of this is that we all too often, and very easily, use negative focus or negative thinking to talk ourselves out of doing something good for… OURSELVES. So what if it’s the holidays? That’s a time to be happy and less stressed, right? Reality is that, for most people, stress levels go up at the holiday season because there’s just so much to do and worry about. Shopping, guests, visiting, work that still has to get done… who has time to work out? Who has time to track what they eat? Who has time to think about anything?? SHOP SHOP SHOP… EAT EAT EAT… VISIT VISIT VISIT… WRAP WRAP WRAP… Take a breath. Clear your head.
Give yourself the gift of greater health, better fitness and less stress. Eat cleaner and measure what you take in. Make the time (just a half hour per day) to train your body four or five days each week. Go shopping. Wrap those gifts. Enjoy the visits. Sleep better. Feel better. Invest in YOU and give yourself the gift of a higher quality of life. Don’t buy into the negative thinking of how it’s impossible to lose weight or enjoy the holidays BECAUSE of the holidays. I’m throwing the BS flag on that one. People do it all the time.
Wipe that negative thinking from your brain. Insert the positive and rewarding outlooks… and enjoy the holiday season all the more for it.