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The Homestretch

Written By 108 Coach TJ Garretson


It seems like 2021 started yesterday. But just like that, we’ve entered Q4. The final stretch to the end of the year is here. The year is winding down and the holidays are right around the corner. With that, almost inevitably always comes a few extra pounds going into the next year. Which, oftentimes might factor into part of the 2022 resolution of losing some extra fluff.

What if that wasn’t the case though? Could it be possible to enjoy the holidays without adding inches to your waist or pounds to the scale? Yes, it absolutely is possible. You can have your pumpkin pie (or sweet potato) and eat it too. If you’ve already been putting in work to reach your health and fitness goals this year, the formula probably won’t change much. Consistent daily effort and small changes lead to huge results. Proper exercise and nutrition can fight off even the tastiest of mashed potatoes and gravy.

We’ll take a pragmatic approach to the end of the year and what can be done to keep the food belly baby at bay. Generally speaking, while there are exceptions and other factors, if you eat more calories than your body uses, you’ll gain weight. If you eat less calories daily, you’ll eventually lose weight. If you eat the same amount, then your weight will remain fairly constant. While it is the amount you eat on a daily basis, it takes time for those things to accumulate. If you’re consistently taking in more calories than you’re utilizing each day, over time, that energy will get stored. So, with good balance and sensible choices, you can adjust what you eat throughout the week to be able to enjoy the foods you enjoy most around these times.

Food provides our bodies with two things. Energy and nutrients. Which means the foods we consume are energy dense (foods higher in calories and not much nutritional content) or nutrient dense (foods with higher nutritional content, such as vitamins & minerals). A cupcake is energy dense because it provides a lot of calories and not a whole lot of nutrients. An apple would be more nutrient dense since it provides better nutrients to the body. Simply swapping out some foods that are more energy dense to more nutrient dense foods is an easy solution to reducing overall daily caloric intake.

Being cognizant of the foods you eat and your portion sizes are the not so secret ways to manage a healthy lifestyle. Especially during the holidays where food and social gatherings are an integral part of the festivities. Studies have been done with how much food people consume during social settings versus when they eat alone. These studies have shown people eating upwards of 30%-50% more food than they normally would consume when eating by themselves. People will even eat when they aren’t hungry in a social setting. Moral of the story, you might unconsciously reach for more food at holiday parties. However, if you can consciously use good judgement with portion sizes during the holidays you have a good chance of fighting off the holiday hibernation weight.

Let’s use soda and water to see how easily calories can add up. A 20oz bottle of soda, on average, has roughly 250 calories with around 65g-70g of added sugars. The added sugars in one bottle alone is more than the American Heart Association recommends daily. But, that’s for another day. As you can see, one bottle of soda has basically no nutritional value. Drinking one bottle of soda a day is the equivalent of 91,250 calories a year and 23,725g – 25,550g of added sugar a year. When excess food is digested it gets stored for energy for a later use.

To put things simply, our bodies can only store a certain amount of glycogen (stored carbohydrates for energy) in the muscles and liver. The rest are deposited into our fatty cells. Which is why excess carbs “get converted” to fats. In a previous post, I discussed carbohydrates and recommended daily calories for them. Using those percentages of 45%-65% of daily calories coming from carbs. In a 2,000 calorie diet, one bottle of soda equates to roughly 19%-28% of daily calories. That’s nearly 1/4  to 1/3 of daily recommended calories for one bottle of soda.

Conversely, simply switching that one bottle of soda to water eliminates all those excess calories. You could even swap that drink to more nutrient dense food to properly nourish your body. On top of that, water has a whole host of benefits. There’s no calories in it. Water also cushions and lubricates your joints, helps remove waste from the body, and one of the best benefits of water is that it is essential for lipolysis. Which is a metabolic process that utilizes fats for energy! Our brains are approximately 70% water. Water is necessary for our brains to function properly and can affect our decision making and motivation if not adequately hydrated.

To sum it all up, these are all ways to keep your nutrition more balanced throughout the holidays and can be implemented all year. Learning portion sizes and what constitutes one serving size can help limit excess calories. Choosing more nutrient dense foods will supply your body with better nutrients. Finally, simply choosing water over other drinks that have excessive added sugars and calories. All those small changes can lead to huge results in your health and wellness journey. And of course, if you need help, please reach out.


Happy Homestretch 2021

author: Annie Malaythong