I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day.
Many of us look forward to the winter holidays to travel, spend time with family, and “eat all the food”. I’m not one of those people.
I worry about replacing my secure, solid routine with the unpredictable chaos family celebrations can be. I get anxious about leaving my home for a different house in a different country (my own family is in Italy, my partner’s in America), with different rules to learn and respect. I dread having less control over food and exercise than I do in the comfort of my daily life. For all these reasons, making the decision to go on holiday in the first place is a feat of strength. In fact, “travelling abroad at least once” was one of my long-term goals for the six-month period from September 2018 to March 2019.
In the past, my go-to strategy to face holiday fear was to shame myself for my anxieties and try to “go with the flow”. It was a disaster. I can’t go with the flow. Without a plan, I feel lost and anxious, so I become rigid and unforgiving about everything else (food, exercise, etc.) in a lacklustre attempt to be flexible about what’s going to happen next. It may sound like a paradox, but the “flow” makes me more strict.
Now I don’t dismiss those fears or reject my Type A personality anymore. Instead, I try to channel that personality into finding ways to curb anxiety and enhance flexibility. In this article, I’m going to share some of these strategies. If anything I said so far resonates with you, feel free to borrow my tips!
Over the festive period, following my customised IIFYM guidelines may not always be possible. However, a few adjustments should minimise food-related stress and optimise nutrition:
The key word here is forward planning:
I can always rely on science to cheer me up. To gain a pound of fat in a week, I would have to eat 500 calories above my maintenance intake every day. It’s not impossible, but it’s quite difficult. Moreover, a study from last year shows that two full weeks without training don’t produce any declines in strength or hypertrophy.
Let’s contemplate my worst case scenario for a minute: what if I couldn’t exercise or track macros for the full 10 days? According to scientific research, if I was at least careful to keep protein high, I wouldn’t experience any substantial loss in terms of muscle mass and overall fitness.
For some people, this post might look like a study in planning madness, but for me it’s a way to embrace who I am while improving my flexibility. I tried to be 100% adaptable and failed miserably. Planned flexibility, as I like to call it, seems to be working much better so far.
In Future Episodes:
My last post of the year will be an update on my bulking phase, tackling my workout, nutrition, mindset, and other interesting stuff. Speak soon!
What are your “holiday hacks”? Share them in a comment!
A personal trainer who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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