It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” according to Andy Williams. Or should it be the most wonderFULL time of the year? I’m referring to the last 6 weeks of the year which is fraught with one nutritional landmine after another.
Let’s face it, things like pumpkin pie, stovetop stuffing, eggnog, pumpkin-spiced lattes, peanut brittle, homemade fudge, and divinity only make their appearance during this brief window so we might as well gorge ourselves with as much as we can, right?
No wonder the average American gains 2 to 5 pounds (or more) over the holidays. You’d think we were part bear by eating all…the…things before going into several months of hibernation. Unfortunately, this is a major reason people gradually gain weight over the course of years and decades. Gaining weight is easy while losing it is another story.
I should know. I was well on my way to an obese lifestyle before I caught the running bug in 2008. I hit my breaking point after stuffing myself until I was miserable at a local Italian restaurant. I was 34 years old, 207 pounds and out of shape. A far cry from my senior year in high school when I weighed 165. At the writing of this article, I’m 46 years old, 152 pounds and running better than ever.
Here's a before and after picture of me!
None of us wake up on January 1st and say, “my goal is to be 5 pounds (or more) heavier between now and December 31st.” But that’s what happens unless we’re intentional about preventing the unnecessary weight gain.
Let me challenge you to consider breaking from tradition as we get closer to the last 42 days of this year. Many of us have shed blood, sweat, and tears in order to make huge fitness gains in our training. Why sabotage all of that hard work in such a short amount of time? Instead, what if we looked at these last 6 weeks as a springboard into a successful coming year?
Many of your competitors are already mentally defeated. They’ll say there’s “nothing they can do but give in to the holiday season.” As a result, they’ll spend the first 6 weeks of the new year reeling in regret while you’re already off and running toward your best year ever. How we finish one year will largely determine how we begin the next year.
Six to Succeed
Here are six habits we can put into practice these last six weeks in order to help us thrive, not just survive, the coming year.
Wake Up an Hour Earlier to Power Up – You could call this your mental & spiritual “power hour.” Whether praying, meditating, reading or listening to a motivational audiobook, this hour will help set up the rest of your day for success. Building mental, spiritual and emotional strength will help us overcome so many of the nutritional temptations we’re offered at every turn. I recommend not using this hour to watch TV or looking at your smartphone. Instead, we want to foster a more peaceful and quiet beginning to our day. Also, it’s not a bad idea to get to bed an hour earlier each night. Personally, I like getting to bed by 9:00-9:30 at night and waking up at 5:00-5:30 each morning.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! – Be intentional about drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For me, that would mean 152/2 = 76 ounces. This amount will increase when exercise is involved. Yes, you’re going to pee more throughout the day! One of the benefits of this habit is cleansing your body of toxins. Another benefit is seeing your muscles become even more supple and powerful in workouts. Drinking more water will also give you more energy, focus, and clarity throughout the day.
Give Up One Thing in the Junk Food Category – By “junk” food, I’m referring to anything that offers little to no nutritional value. Donuts? Cookies? Candy bars? Potato chips? Alcohol? All of the above? Each of us must choose. What is your nutritional kryptonite? Not only will you survive the six weeks without those things, but you’ll also experience less fatigue and more energy. You may just want to make it a permanent practice.
Keep the Fridge Stocked with Fresh Fruit & Veggies – Your taste buds may not be craving these things now but they will with practice. Just like sugar cravings are real, vegetable cravings can become your new reality. Our bodies are amazing at adapting to the things we put into them. My wife Shelley and I make it a habit to get a large salad with a variety of veggies into our bodies at least five times a week. The extra fiber helps bind up the waste in our bodies. The high vitamin and phytonutrient content help boost our immunity. It’s amazing how vibrant and sweet fruit tastes when we begin to cut out the refined sugary treats devoid of nutrients.
Write Down 3 Specific Goals – Study after study has proven the power of actually writing down specific goals. Examples might be, “I want to break 4 hours in the marathon”, “I want to finish in the top half of an upcoming Half Ironman”, “I want to take 3 minutes off my 5k personal best.” After writing down your goals, keep them in a place where you’ll see them daily. These goals will help serve as your “why.” Why am I choosing to do things differently during these last 6 weeks of the year? Because it’s going to help me achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. For me personally, when I’m tempted to compromise, I remind myself that I want to achieve a specific performance goal more than I want the short-lived satisfaction of that junk food or poor habit.
Close Out with Gratitude – By now, you’ve heard many people talk about the value of practicing gratitude. But hearing about it and doing it are two different things. As you close out each day before heading to bed, write down 3 things you’re grateful for in a designated gratitude journal. It doesn’t need to be a fancy journal, just a simple notebook can serve the purpose. Over the course of weeks, months and years, you’ll have accumulated quite a list of things that cause your heart to swell with thankfulness. Each day is unique with its surprises, victories, and occurrences. Gratitude helps me appreciate what I have, from the air in my lungs to the food on my table.
By making wise choices during the “most wonderful time of the year”, we set ourselves up for the possibility of having a most wonderful year!
*This website, including products, articles, and educational content are not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This website does not provide medical advice. The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only.
by Dr. David MinkoffOctober 14, 20218 min read0 Comments
Alright, so we know that when sugar comes into the body Insulin is released to shuttle that sugar into the cell. And if the cell is full, then it connects the sugars in chains and stores them as something called Glycogen in your muscle and liver cells for use later on. And if those are full then it connects the sugar to fatty acids and stores it as body fat. And, while Insulin is in the blood stream, fat burning is prevented.
We also know that, given too much sugar for too long, the cells start resisting it and refusing to let it in when Insulin tells them too, causing them to have less sugar to make energy with as well as causing more of it to be converted to body fat.
by Dr. David MinkoffOctober 14, 20215 min read0 Comments
This is the second article in a series on Insulin, Insulin Resistance, Sugar and Body Fat, as a well as an overall series on hormones, so stay tuned!
Alright, if you read the first article in this series (Link this to first article) then you understand that when sugar is in the blood stream the hormone Insulin is released to send it into the cells for energy, or to store it as energy in the muscles as something called Glycogen, or to convert it into fats known as Triglycerides — body fat.
And that while insulin is in the bloodstream almost no fat burning can take plac
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