During the holiday season there is one thing that always seems to spoil our holiday cheer: the dreaded muffin top, the adorably named pesky bulge that sneaks in to ruin newly purchased holiday dresses.
Even for the fittest of folks, a few holiday pounds here and there are almost unavoidable — and that’s okay. But it’s the dreaded 8-plus pound ring lingering around our midsections well into March that’s the not-so-nice memento of bygone holiday cheer.
I’ve recruited Austin’s very own Ken Doll, and most highly sought after personal trainer, Ryan Nail, to help me beat the holiday bulge this year. I also sat down with Nail, owner/founder of Corefit Training, to get his top tips for staying fit this season.
CultureMap: What is the biggest hidden calorie killer during the holidays?
Ryan Nail: Drinking seems to be my client’s biggest diet offense around the holidays. People don’t understand that one beer or glass of wine contains at least 100 calories — multiply that by however many drinks you have a night, times how many holiday parties and family get together’s you attend, and you’re headed for trouble. Many people also feel sluggish the day after drinking and will likely make excuses to not exercise.
CM: What would you recommend for people to drink instead?
RN: If you must drink, drink vodka. Vodka is the cleanest and lowest calories of any alcoholic beverage. A vodka soda is something like 60 calories compared to a beer, which on average contains 150 calories a glass.
CM: You seem to be big on calories. Are calories king in the fitness world?
RN: The No. 1 tip I can give people hoping to lose weight is, “COUNT YOUR CALORIES,” but you need to know the value of those calories. For example, oatmeal has far more benefits than bread. They are both a grain, but one offers protein and the other does not. For a woman wanting to lose weight, she on average needs 1,300-1,400 lean protein-rich calories a day, plus burning 600 calories in the gym. Calorie counting creates awareness — when you have to log what you eat, you suddenly become aware that your body looks at food as fuel. That’s why [highly promoted weight loss programs are] so successful, their food sucks, but it creates awareness!
CM: There are so many “fad” diets out there: low carb, low fat, vegan, Atkins, etc. What does your personal nutrition philosophy look like?
RN: I stay close to the terms “steamed” and “grilled." I also split my meals into five small meals a day. When you break up your food portions instead of stuffing yourself, your metabolism turns into a burning machine — it will literally start burning calories while you metabolize.
CM: Many people travel during the holidays and can’t get to a gym. What would you recommend for people simply trying to minimize holiday damage?
RN: Cardio — go for a run! Fitness, in order of importance is: No. 1 cardio, No. 2 stretching and No. 3 core work. Cardio should be the foundation of any fitness routine. When you engage in cardio, the body reacts quickly to any other training you incorporate. Meaning, the more cardio you do the more benefits from strength training you’ll be able to see. My personal training routine, on top of working out with my clients, is one hour of cardio and one hour of strength training and core work, mixed with stretching in between.
CM: If you could give people one tip to stay lean during the holidays what would it be?
RN: Enjoy yourself! Enjoy your family and friends because that’s what makes life great. Simply apply moderation to the food you eat. If you’re going to a holiday party or a family gathering be mindful of the types of food you eat and the quantity. Keep a mental checklist: How many drinks and dinner rolls did I consume? Fitness is a lifestyle, not a hobby — awareness and discipline are key in achieving any goal — fitness is no different. My clients are always amazed at how much stronger and dedicated they are in their daily lives from the hard work they put into our workouts.
CM: What’s your favorite holiday indulgence?
RN: My favorite indulgence actually comes twice a year, summer and Christmas: roasting marshmallows. I’m a s’mores man, they’re so good.