Surviving the Party Season
Its that time of year again already. That time where you start trying to wind down, but can’t because as always everyone wants everything finished before the Christmas break.
Work projects need to be finished; you spend your free time thinking about what to get who for Christmas (and stressing about how much it costs) and you start getting invited to Christmas parties.
One of the biggest killers to your fitness over the December period is Christmas parties. They’re such a big killer I decided to create a survival guide for you.
I care about your achievements this year so I have created this guide to assist you in getting through the party season with your fitness in tact. Lets not let all the hard work go to waste right at the end!
Everything in Moderation – Including Moderation
Oscar Wilde once said “Everything in moderation – including moderation”. In the context of this guide it essentially means “It’s OK to have a blow out once in a while”. You’re good with your nutrition and training 95% of the time but in some ways its actually healthy to just let loose once every now and then. I find it reminds me of what I don’t want to feel like every Saturday and Sunday morning.
If you’re going to the work Christmas party and you really want to cut loose then all you really need to do is plan around it. Eat “clean” the week leading up to the party and go nuts with the food and drink when you’re there. Have a great time, sleep off your hangover and eat your favourite hangover food the next day and rest up. But don’t let that be the pattern week in and week out throughout the whole of the season.
Once you’ve recovered just get back in to it. Wait too long between and its hard as hell at this time of year to get back to your routine because there’s so many interruptions to it.
Schedule Your Rest or Cheat Days Around Events
Alter your routine to suit your partying better. If you have a cheat and rest day in there why not try and schedule that for the party day? There’s no harm in skipping your rest or cheat day at the end of one week because you’re going to have it in the middle of the next.
In fact, its probably going to make you appreciate it even more come the time of the party.
Additionally, changing your routine up from time to time causes your body to try and adapt more which isn’t a bad thing either.
Alternatively if you aren’t the type to have a rest or cheat day there’s no harm in having a day off every now and then. Its actually healthier for you both mentally and physically.
Check the Menu Beforehand
Most times the organizer will tell you the venue or forward everyone the set menu options for the function. Check it out first so you know what you’re in for.
Depending on the price and style of venue you’re going to you’ll know the quality of the food before you even get there. If it’s the local pub don’t expect gourmet clean food. But checking the menu first will give you a good idea of what to expect and from there you can prepare yourself to make the healthy choice (if you’re not planning on having a blowout).
If you have to place orders up front for the event it also gives you a chance to eliminate impulse craving something unhealthy.
Pro Tip: Claiming you’re vegetarian usually gets you something healthy and they’ll make it especially for you.
Monitor What Goes In
This can be done in a couple of ways.
1. Check the Quantity
No one’s force-feeding you at these events (but if they are can you please swing an invite my way?) so it is solely you responsible for what goes in your mouth.
When the entre comes out and its just plate after plate of cheesy garlic bread do you really need to eat four pieces? You aren’t gonna die if you just eat one or two.
When the bowls of chips for the table come out you will survive with a handful. Claiming the whole bowl for yourself doesn’t do you any favours socially or health wise.
2. Check the Quality
Again this is going to depend on the venue and I don’t mean to pick on pubs here but if you’re having it at the pub don’t expect the greatest quality dishes. Even at some of the more upmarket pubs the food is close, but there’s just something about the cooking methods (like too much butter or “lightly frying” everything) that just seems to mean you end up with too much oil one way or another.
The quality of the food is important if you’re trying to keep it together. For example you order a burger that sounds amazing on the menu, but it comes out dripping with oil and tastes like rubber. The meat was probably crap quality as were the rest of the ingredients. Ultimately that’s a waste of calories that you worked hard to fit in and you didn’t even get any enjoyment out of it!
Pro Tip: When looking at a menu the words “crispy, lightly battered, crumbed, lightly crumbed and breaded” all mean its deep fried.
Know Your Alcohols
Alcohol is probably the number 1 ruiner of fitness goals and progress when it comes to the party season. If you don’t drink then good on you – you don’t have to deal with these hard choices. If you do plan on having a drink or 12 at the Christmas party remember these points:
- When did you last drink?
If its been a while then maybe you might be able to afford to have a few. If you’re backing up from another party the day before you drank at maybe you should give it a miss this time. Up to you though.
- Do you have any other events coming up soon that you’ll be drinking at?
Plan ahead for your parties. If you’re planning a blow out at one party don’t blow out at all of them. Stick to one or two drinks maximum and fulfil your social commitments until you get to the event you’re hanging out for.
- Alcohol slows down your metabolism, compounding the effect of everything you eat
Yeah that’s right. Your metabolism is going to slow down when you drink due to having to process the alcohol. Alcohol is actually a poison, so your liver will try to metabolise it first. This causes the bowl of chips, cheesy garlic breads and other high calorie, low nutrition things you ate to wait to be processed.
- Avoid pre-mixed drinks
They have the most sugar out of all the things you can order at the bar – and sugar is your enemy when drinking – its stored as fat almost straight away due to the alcohol being metabolised first.
- On the rocks is best
Generally speaking your harder liquors on the rocks are best in this scenario. They have lower calories and its OK to sip on them as the party goes on. This means over the course of the event you can drink less, maintain your social commitments and not blow out on drinking too much.
If you so wish its also easier to get a buzz on with them
- Choose wisely
Drinking beer will cause you a bit of bloating and isn’t as good as drinking scotch or vodka in terms of calories but there’s a few things you can do to minimise the effects they will have. If you’re concerned about getting the best bang-for-buck you can go for Vodka Soda with a twist of lime. It’s a lot more calorie friendly than other options.
Don’t be fooled by “low carb” beers – There’s little to no difference between them and any other apart from marketing. What you need to pay attention to is the strength of the beers. The lower amount of alcohol the “healthier” choice it is.
Go for bottled beers – this allows you to measure the amount you’re actually drinking. All bottled beers will tell you how much alcohol is in them and the equivalent standard drinks. They’ll also be able to be scanned in My Fitness Pal and you can track the calories.
Opt for preservative free – I don’t know about you but preservative free beers are the best if you drink too much. I really notice the difference in a hangover when I’ve been drinking beer with preservatives in it. Mid strength with no preservatives are my preferred option.
Break up Your Meals
If you’re the type to get hungry when there are so many options available and you want to avoid it try breaking up your meals on the day of the party. Breaking up your meals doesn’t mean eating more, it means being smart about when you eat. Eating whatever you would normally eat beforehand means you won’t be starving when the nibblies come out or the Golden Buffet is around and you won’t be caught up in the moment and literally eat everything.
If the event involves a late meal it will also give you the opportunity to have something decent before going, putting food in there before the alcohol comes out.