Getting Mentally Prepared for the Holidays: 10 Wellness and Diet Tips!


-Mindy Irish

NASM Certified Personal Trainer  |  Online Fitness Coach  |  BS in Physical Education  |  Fishers-area Mom of 4

10 wellness and diet tips

I get a lot of questions in person, by email, or by Facebook messages. One gal said recently, “Please keep posting info about diet. That’s where I really struggle and I want to learn more!” I agree and it seems that’s a common statement from many men and women that cross my path. In my opinion and from what I’ve learned to this point in my journey, it’s really mostly about the diet. We’ve been programmed that it’s all about what we do in the gym, how often we go, how long we work out, and the level of intensity (More is more, right? Ummmm, NO!). However, while all that’s an important factor and on average that’s roughly one to two hours of your day, the other 22 to 23 hours are what REALLY make the difference in your physique, energy levels, and overall health and well-being.

So, if you’re just starting out or maybe you’re looking for a change, here’s how I would guide you. If I would have the chance to sit down and chat with you in a coffee shop and help get you on a new track, from one gal to another, this is what I would tell you! Man, I wish someone would have told me this a lot sooner when I was just starting out! Just another reason I created the Fit Gal Club concept in 2010 and eventually became an Online Coach and Personal Trainer….so I could pass on what I’ve learned!

Pre-Holiday Top 10 Diet and Wellness Tips

1. Know Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and How Much You Need To Eat In A Day:
Nothing will slow your metabolism down faster than if you’re not eating enough to lose weight or build muscle, depending on your goals. Know what you need calorie wise on a daily basis and then EAT {well}! I send people to this website to get a baseline: Calculate your calorie intake HERE!

2. Go for Whole Foods:whole food dinner
Going for whole foods most of the time means eating as many one-ingredient foods as possible 70-90% of the time.  I focus on low sugar, high fiber options and let that be my guide in my food choices.

Cutting back on the processed foods with little nutritional value makes a huge impact. Go for the basics like lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins.  Aim to eliminate the convenience foods like snacky, cookie, cracker, cakey foods from your diet, unless you’re in your occasional treat mode (see #8 below!). For me, I also had to stop eating fried, greasy, and fast foods as well.  After doing so, my physique changed, I had more energy, and I slept better.

In addition to lean protein, choose vegetables, nuts, and an occasional fruit as your main fuel.  Lower and eliminate the sugar from all sources….it’s addictive! Keep track of what you drink, including all the sugary, pop and alcoholic drinks. Beverage calories DO count and they add up fast!

3. Eat Breakfast:
Rise and shine to a solid meal to start your day. What do I eat? I personally eat a higher fat and protein combo at breakfast and enter carbs in later in my day.  However, you have to find what best works for you and your system.
What other options are optimal? I don’t do dairy and I do very little fruit, but some people eat: berries, whole grain toast, eggs, egg whites, oat meal, oat bran, and Greek yogurt. Keep a check on sugars and fiber and see how your body fuels best!

4. Eat Often:
It took me almost 18 months into my journey to learn this and when I started it, it really broke through a 7-month plateau I had hit. Aim to eat every two to four hours. Until your body gets used to eating so often, I coach people to put reminders in the phone or on their to-do lists to remember to eat. I also teach people to take their day’s calories and divide it by the total number of meals per day. So if you’re supposed to eat say 1600 calories in a day on your plan, divide that by 3 to 6 meals and get your calories per meal to aim towards eating (1600/6=267 calories per meal as a goal). Consider it like a food budget and create your meals with that powerful lean protein, complex carb, veggie and healthy fat super combo.

back day5. Eat Post and Pre Workouts:
This concept was one I missed for a very long time. In order to get the most out of your workouts, make sure to have a protein and for some, complex carbs before you hit the gym. Post workouts should be a simple, fast-digesting carb and a protein.

Keep all fats and more complex, fibrous carbs out of your diet for at least 90 minutes post workout so the fast carbs can be absorbed to replenish the depleted glycogen stores in your muscles and the protein can be absorbed to help with muscle repair and to prevent further breakdown.  Fueling best with nutrient timing (this means eating around your workouts) will give you the most bang for your workout buck!

6. Track Your Eats and Keep a Food Journal for Food Intolerances:
I was eating “healthy” foods at one time, but was still very bloated and not losing weight. I started to not only track my food using Weight Watchers Points at the time, but I also started to keep a food journal to write down what I ate and then record how I felt and how it impacted my digestion. At the time, I came to find out that dairy, red meat, and processed foods just did not sit well with me. I saw a common pattern in my journal, cut those foods out, and the weight came off! Keeping a food journal is extremely eye opening to how certain foods (even “healthy” ones) really impact your body.  However, this is all a person-by-person basis.  Each one of us will feel differently and respond differently to the many food options available.

If you don’t track your food, I suggest starting up. You can’t possibly know what you’re eating calorically in a day just going off memory. No Way! After doing #1 above, you know what amount of calories to eat on a daily basis for your goals, so keep track of it daily. I use the My Fitness Pal website and app and you can friend me by searching for Mindy Irish on there. Remember, you snack it, you track it! Hit your daily calorie goal each day with whole-food eats and watch your body respond in a good way!

7. Drink Water:
Yes, you’ve heard this before, but are you drinking your water? It’s a natural, daily detox to your system. Add a littlewater fill lemon into your water or decaf flavored tea bags to spice it up. My tip: get a HUGE water bottle with a handle and straw and down it thru the day. I drink about a gallon a day. Generally speaking, you can count decaf coffee and tea WITHOUT added sugars or creams towards your water count.

If you’re just starting out, record where you are with your current water intake as your baseline, then track it daily and aim to increase it little by little over time.  Hydrating makes a HUGE impact on how you look and feel!

8. Find Your Balance with Fun Foods in your 10-30% Time Frame:
When you eat well day in and day out, your body will figure you out. Throw it a shock every once in a while with a special treat drink, dessert, or fun-food meal. It keeps your body from thinking it’s starving and revs up the metabolism. I’ve done entire “Cheat Days” in the past, but I was throwing SO much junk into my system in one day, that it was just too much for the results I desired.

Find your balance and enjoy some of your fun foods within reason 10-30% of the time.  This means that 70-90% of the time you’ll want to choose whole foods and then enjoy fun fare here and there in that smaller time frame.  This may seem restrictive, but in time you’ll learn to adapt to this and you’ll really make headway towards your goals, but more importantly you’ll feel better, too!

9. Sleep:
If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t lose weight and you won’t build muscle like you’re wanting. Hormonally, this is a huge part of weight loss and can really impact our results.  It’s also been proven that sleep deprivation leads to late-afternoon snacking on usually high sugar foods for that pick-me-up to make it through the day.

When you sleep your body repairs and rebuilds.  Shut it down early each night and jump in the sack. It’s the icing on your cake to all the hard work you’re doing! Mant times, after a few days eating well and hard workouts, I can see noticeable changes in the AM after a good night’s sleep. It’s what your body needs, so make it a priority!

10. Speak Up and Know What You’re Eating Before You Eat It:
You HAVE to advocate for your health or who else will? You have to know what you’re eating BEFORE you eat it. I’ve done it time and again and still do it occasionally where I eat something and look it up on the car ride home only to realize it had how many calories and how many sugar grams in it???!! Who knew?! With apps, smart phones, websites, we have such a technological advantage these days to know all about what we’re eating.

Regardless, I empower you to speak up and rework the menu no matter where you are. You can customize basically anything and make it your own. Never eat a meal just because that’s the way they serve it off the menu. If you want it prepared differently or with less items, then you speak up and order it that way!

The Bottomline:
Yes, the holidays will get busy and schedules will get full.  However, you need to be well and energized to take care of others in your life.  It starts with you becoming a student of you!  Take time out to put yourself on the list and give yourself permission to be a priority in your life.  You’re worth it!
-Mindy Irish

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