Navigating Your Nutrition During the Holidays Without Being “That Guy/Girl”

It’s a tough time for fitness.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner for all my people in the United States. Food comas are ubiquitous. It also marks the beginning of the December holiday party season. Cap it off with New Year celebrations for everyone around the world.

That makes this an appropriate time to address navigating your fitness and nutrition. And we’ll teach you how to do it without being “that guy” or “that girl”.

The Holiday Struggles
For most of the people I speak with, the biggest holiday struggle comes in the form of social pressure. It feels like there is an endless stream of friendsgivings, office holiday parties, and family dinners. How do you survive the constant exposure to pie?

Besides to the barrage of parties full of tempting hors d’oeuvres and your Italian grandmother’s famous food, the travel itself is an issue.

Driving, flying, bussing, boating and train-ing to visit family, friends, or go on vacation means you’re thrown way off routine.

To further compound the issue, there will be full days where you might not even see a healthy food option.

Sticking to a consistent training routine when you’re away from your gym fam is tough, too.

Here are five strategies proven to keep you on track without feeling restricted.

1) Relax and Plan Not to Track Some Meals
The first strategy is the big, overarching one.

If you stick to your convictions 80% of the time, over the 45 days left in the year you can take up to 9 meals to you relax and eat what you want. But don’t binge.

This way you can enjoy a slice of Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie, a pint of Uncle Sam’s home brewed beer, or drink with a group of friends you haven’t seen in a while.

Nine meals is enough leniency that you won’t feel the need to cram all the “cheat food” into a few meals and go off the rails. You can be a little bit more responsible with your laxity.

Try to map out when those 9 meals will occur, but don’t force them onto your calendar if you can do less. Once you map your 9 relaxed meals, stick to your normal and productive eating habits. And do it for the rest of 2017 and BEYOND.

Heck, with this time off work, you might be able to make some big improvements!

2) Cook for Parties
The second strategy is to always cook something for holiday parties that will help you stay on track.

The simplest way to do this, in my opinion, is to make a slow cooker meat dish or bake a big filet of fish. There’s rarely enough protein at these holiday events, and way too many dessert options.

If you are looking to lose fat, something like a turkey chili is “on brand” during thanksgiving. Besides being a great source of protein, you can load it with veggies.

On the fish front you can go with a baked Cod recipe.

If you are looking to maintain or gain mass, a nice lamb or pork roast are great, easy meat options.

A baked or grilled salmon fillet is another great addition to your friends giving or holiday party.

Nobody is going to give you shit for bringing a beautiful piece of meat or fish to a party! Especially if there’s enough to go around.

For you vegetarians, vegans, celiac and other restricted-dieters I am sure you are familiar with bringing your own dishes to dinner parties. I also hope you have understanding friends and family who will make a separate dish that accommodates your needs. If not, cooking a great dish that you can eat is one way to educate them!

3)Learn How To Make a Plate
The third strategy is to start calibrating your eye and learning how to construct a plate on sight that fits your macronutrient needs.

For all our clients, this is why you’ve weighed and measured…so that you can intuitively make these types of unmeasured food choices.

If it’s not one of your 9 relaxed meals, make sure you fill up a good deal of your plate with protein. Load up with all vegetables in sight, and then add in any starches you might need to construct a balanced plate.

For those who like visual guides, aim for 2 palm sized portions of protein. For example:

A whole turkey breast
Two thick slices of a pork roast
A piece of fish twice the size of what a restaurant would serve.
Aim for at least 3 fist sized portions of vegetables.

A full plate of salad.
A fist sized pile of hot veggies.
Plenty-o-green beans.
This will help you avoid going back for seconds of the dangerous stuff.

Depending on your goal, also aim for the right portions of starch. If you’re looking to lose weight, just one fist sized portion of stuffing and minimal mashed potatoes. Especially if you plan on having a slice of grandma’s famous pie.

If you’re in maintenance mode shoot for two fist sized portions of starch. A fist sized sweet potato, and stuffing. If you’re looking to gain, you have a bit more leeway. BUT set your sights on the nutrient dense starches like sweet potatoes over mashed potatoes or stuffing!

4) Shutting Down Sugar Cravings
The fourth strategy is useful in cutting off binge patterns that can occur with lovely dessert spreads.

I had one client who was the picture of discipline at dinner parties with one major exception. He meticulously constructed perfect plates during dinner. Minutes later, he would find himself 20 (small) slices of cake deep at the dessert table.

We found a strategy that worked for him, and has worked for dozens of clients with the same affliction. If this sounds like you here is the solution.

After you have a reasonable portion of dessert, if your brain is saying go back for more, eat a vegetable or protein and see if you still want to keep eating. If you do, eat the protein or vegetables but avoid more dessert.

That sugar and fat combo in desserts is going to make your brain go haywire. You are wired to eat that crap endlessly. Shut it down with some less palatable foods, and take the cake out of sight!

5) What To Do on Travel Days
The fifth, and last strategy I will discuss addresses the issue of what to do on travel days. It depends on your mode of transport but the strategy is the same.

Since it is usually tough to get enough protein and vegetables while in transit bring them with you. Protein bars, a salad, protein powder and a greens powder or algae like spirulina are options.

When I travel by plane, I stop at my local health food store to stock up. I go to a store that has great prepared foods and either grab one of their pre-made salads, or make one at the salad bar. I will load it up with meat, colorful veggies, and sweet potato or grains like quinoa to make it feel heartier.

I also pick up some bars like

Epic bars
Oatmega Bars
RX bars
Rise bars
and jerky
I’ll also grab a few pieces of fruit or a package of berries.

This strategy is especially important during the holidays because flights tend to get delayed or canceled. Not to mention, there are long lines at the airport.

I’ve been stuck at the airport before and was super lucky that I prepared.

If you’re traveling with your family, bring enough for everybody. Nothing tears a family apart (or causes a family to tear each other apart) like the dreaded hanger and stress of airport travel.

If I’m driving a long distance, I have a mini cooler that I usually throw all my snacks plus a hot meal into. I’ll eat them along the way rather than hoping that I can find something at a rest stop in the middle-of-nowhere.

Bonus: How to Keep Moving
I also realize that it’s easy to fall out of an exercise routine during travel. It’s such a comfortable pattern to go to your gym at home, but it feels more daunting to make it happen on the road. If this is the case, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. if you can’t make it into the local CrossFit box you can and should still move.

You could:

Do some bodyweight tabata intervals.
Go for a tempo run outdoors (weather permitting)
Hit the hotel gym and improvise a metcon with whatever equipment they have.
Going for post meal walks is massive, too.
I love taking my family or friends’ dogs for a walk after a meal. A walk with friends and family after the meal is also a chance to have a more intimate conversation.

Those are five of my most effective strategies for navigating nutrition during the holidays. I’d love to hear what your favorite holiday hacks, recipes, or strategies are.

Protein Master Class – Learn the Best Protein Sources for CrossFit

To say, “Protein is the most important macronutrient” is like saying, “The heart is the most important organ.”

Without the other organs, the heart is useless. Without the other macronutrients, fat and carbohydrate, protein doesn’t matter, either.

With that said, we have found that eating enough protein should be the top priority for anybody who does CrossFit or strength training.

Consider this post your protein master-class. You will learn about protein’s role in the body, how much you need to consume each day, how much is too much protein, and best protein sources from food.

What is Protein’s Role in the Body?
Protein, as a macronutrient, should be the number-one focus of anybody who includes strength training (whether with weights or bodyweight) in their exercise routine.

The roles of protein in the body are numerous, and include:

Tissue structure and function
Enzyme and hormone production
Energy (through gluconeogenesis)
Immune system function
And more…
Protein is the most important macronutrient to focus on consuming because our bodies are constantly breaking down and rebuilding. Exercise has an effect on this breaking down and rebuilding process, called “protein turnover” which we will now explore.

Why Protein is Important for Exercise
Exercise causes stress to our muscles, and this sends signals to suggest that our current setup just isn’t doing the job. The body will want to be adequately equipped to handle the same stress next time, so it kick-starts the upgrade process.

The upgrade involves breaking down your inadequate muscle proteins and enzymes (which assist in energy production), and then the body uses the amino acids you consume from food to rebuild.

Your body has small “pools” of amino acids that it draws from for this rebuilding process. These amino acid pools are actually more small bathtubs with the drain open.

To stay full, these amino acid pools need a constant flow of new amino acids from your diet. Exercise increases your body’s need for amino acids from dietary protein.

Without an adequate supply of essential amino acids from your diet, your body will cannibalize its muscle tissue which can lead to a slower metabolism, downregulation of anabolic hormones, compromised immune system and poor athletic performance.

How Much Protein Should You Consume?
Download your calorie and macros for crossfit guide

If you are an athlete, the short answer is that research says .82-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

For a 160lb athlete, this means 132-160 grams of protein per day.

You should eat closer to 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight if:

You are new to strength training.
You are on a “calorie deficit” trying to lose weight.

Bodyweight Protein for Beginners Protein for Experienced Lifters Protein if Cutting Weight
120lbs 120 grams 99-108 grams >108grams
140lbs 140 grams 115-126 grams >126 grams
160lbs 160 grams 132-144 grams >144 grams
180lbs 180 grams 148-162 grams >162 grams
200lbs 200 grams 164-180 grams >180 grams

An interesting finding from the sports research world is that newer strength athletes actually have higher protein requirements than trained strength athletes.

This seems counterintuitive. You would think a trained athlete with more muscle and lifting more weight would need more protein to support their muscle, but studies show that, pound for pound, the untrained athlete needs more protein.

The hypothesis is that an untrained athlete is making huge and rapid gains while the experienced athlete is fighting for inches.

How Much is Too Much Protein?
Research suggests that in both healthy populations, and athletic populations, high protein intakes do not have any adverse effects.

As long as you have healthy kidneys and no pre-existing renal disease, high protein diets have been shown repeatedly to produce good outcomes on body composition in both healthy and obese populations.

Getting Protein From Food
When it comes to food, there is actually a difference in protein quality.

Some foods have “complete” proteins, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids that you can only get from your diet. Incomplete proteins lack one or more of the essential amino acids.

Protein quality is measured in a number of ways. These methods assess the ability of a food to deliver the essential amino acids necessary to function.

Protein Efficiency Ratio, Biological Value and Net Protein Utilization are measures of protein quality that are based on rodent models, whereas Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is based on human models and identifies the “limiting” amino acid in foods.

Animal proteins like meat, milk and eggs are all complete proteins. The best sources of protein from animals, as measured by their PDCAAS are:

Plant proteins are often incomplete, but the body digests and assimilates 90% of the protein it digests. By combining two or more plant foods with complementary amino acids, you are still giving the body the raw materials it needs to rebuild.

Some high-quality sources of complete plant proteins are:

Chia Seeds
Hemp seeds
Rice & Beans
To feed the 160lb human from our example enough protein, it would take just under a pound of meat, a few eggs, and a scoop of protein powder.

Coming Up Next


What does the body need carbohydrate for? Do carbohydrates make you fat? Is high carb or low carb better for you?

Now that you know the role of protein in the body, click here to learn the fascinating role of carbohydrate in the body and exercise recovery.

The Future is Mental Wellness

Mental wellness will be the biggest future trend, period: from wellness destinations bringing in neuroscientists and psychotherapists – to meditation becoming seriously mainstream, while evolving into new breeds – to part-mind, part-body workout brands – to apps that track your mental state

A massively bigger focus on mental wellness – whether in new programming at hotels, wellness retreats and spas or schools and workplaces – was an uber-trend identi ed by Summit experts. The mounting crisis was laid out. Global economist, Thierry Malleret, explained how, despite our era of historic economic abundance, depression, anxiety disorders, loneliness, addiction and suicide is skyrocketing. So much so that the World Health Organization has forecast that by 2030 the largest health risk on earth will be depression (not obesity). Leading integrative medical experts,

like Dr. Elke Benedetto-Reisch and Nils Behrens (Lanserhof Group); Drs. Harry and Imke Koenig (Brenner’s Park Hotel & Spa); and Dr. Christine Stossier (VIVAMAYR Medical Clinic) outlined the serious new problems they’re seeing: from “total burnout” to exploding disorders around stress and the “gut” – with agreement that traditional medicine tends not to see the whole

(emotional) patient, or act on evidence that
the mind in uences every cell in the body. They argued that the wellness industry must zero in on teaching people “the discipline of living again”:
to restore day and night, work and rest, learn the connection between bad food and bad mood, and the (painful) discipline of digitally disconnecting. (Notably, the rst Summit award for a leader in mental wellness (the Debra Simon Award) went
to Jeremy McCarthy, director of spa & wellness for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and author of The Psychology of Spas & Wellbeing, for his work in bringing the power of positive psychology to the attention of the spa industry.)

Governments will recognize that a focus on mental wellbeing and happiness is an important key to turning around declining productivity
and rising social instability. For instance, Jan- Emmanuel De Neve (economics professor, Oxford University; co-editor of the UN’s World Happiness

Report) keynoted on how nations (like the UAE, with their new “Minister of Happiness”), which used to focus only on GDP, are now looking closely at new measures of (and new policies

to drive more) national happiness, because “happiness” drives the economy: from studies showing that unhappy teens earn signi cantly less as adults, to ones showing happy workers are signi cantly more productive.

Gerry Bodeker, PhD (clinical psychologist; professor, Oxford and Columbia Universities) laid it on the line for the wellness industry, arguing, “It’s time to put a stake in the ground and say… we care about this mental wellness crisis and we’re already doing something about it. Because wellness approaches like meditation, exercise, yoga and healthy food already have strong medical evidence for transformative neurological e ects, and make a powerful case for a ‘mental wellness’ pathway that’s distinct from what’s been long o ered in the world of ‘mental health’”. The future: “mind” will nally matter as much as “body”– and so many new approaches to driving less stress and more happiness will be one of the biggest, future industry trends.


Mental disorders are skyrocketing globally: between 1990 and today, people su ering from depression or anxiety increased roughly 50% (to over 600 million people – WHO). Antidepressant use has exploded in OECD countries, but simultaneously depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, OCD, phobias (and suicide) keep climbing. We all know the new forces conspiring to make us more miserable: from rising global economic inequality to constant digital/work/media connection.

Social media (keeping us “alone together”)
takes its terrible toll: consider a new NHS study revealing that more than one in four young women (aged 16-24 – the ultimate “sel e” generation) now have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. And from “fake news” to our social media “bubbles”, the very idea of
an agreed-upon “reality” is fast disappearing. No wonder that Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” the 2016 word of the year, or that the Danish wellbeing concept of “hygge” – burying oneself into cozy, nest-like environments – was runner-up. People feel crazier, sadder and angrier…and need relief.


New “integrative” mental wellness approaches: including hotels, wellness retreats and spas bringing in psychotherapists and neuroscientists.
Meditation exploding into the accessible mainstream: from dedicated “drop-in” meditation studios to far more mindfulness programming at hotels, retreats, spas, cruises, schools, hospitals, and even governments.
Sleep programs are hitting THE tipping-point: whether wellness destinations bringing in doctors to design sleep-inducing programs/ rooms to retreats o ering each guest a dedicated “Sleep Ambassador.”
So many new directions, from a dedicated focus on breath work and breathing classes (as proper breathing controls stress response and brain waves) to “bibliotherapy”, the prescription of speci c literary works as therapy, as readers of literature have lower rates of depression and stress.
New “mind/body” tness brands that marry physical workouts with all kinds of interwoven meditation and neuroplasticity approaches.
Once “really out there”, mystical, New Age-y mental solutions going mainstream: from shamans as mental coaches to trippy sound baths.
• Yes, the continued explosion of meditation apps, but also new “tracking” apps that measure your mental wellness (stress, breaths taken, etc.). Think “MindBit” not “FitBit”.

• A new focus on creativity and the arts – and “silence” and digital disconnection.


Dr. Gerry Bodeker argued that the wellness industry has been too passive in communicating the strong medical evidence for so many wellness modalities’ impact on mental health. A big meta-analysis (this month) of past studies (data on 1.1 million people) re-con rmed the powerful connection between regular exercise and mental health: people in the lowest third for aerobic tness levels were 75% more likely to have received a depression diagnosis than those in the top third. A 2016 Oxford University meta- analysis found that mindfulness-based therapy

was more e ective at reducing depression relapses than antidepressant medication. A 2015 meta-review found that yoga improved symptom scores for anxiety and depression by about 40%. And a large, new Ghent University meta-review showed that happiness isn’t just some “feeling”, it improves focus, imagination and complex issues of mental exibility – i.e., the very way your brain processes external and internal information.


Integrative Mental Wellness at Retreats & Spas:

At Hotel Café Royal’s Akasha spa (London) a cognitive therapist joins the packed roster of wellness specialists in nutrition, meditation, reiki, etc. At Stanglwirt (Kitzbuhel, Austria) a resident clinical psychologist o ers everything from relaxation hypnosis to burnout prevention.

ESPA Life at Corinthia Hotel London has just brought in a “Neuroscientist in Residence” (Dr. Tara Swart from MIT) to create new programs tackling mental wellness, resilience and positivity.

The Arrigo Program retreats ( rst for women,

now adding men), at hideaways in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Sri Lanka, squarely focus on helping people nd their mental footing. Led by famed psychotherapist, Fiona Arrigo, the team

of therapists cover everything from neurotherapy to breath work to addiction counseling. And now The Surrey Hotel (NYC) is bringing in Arrigo for an intensive “Mind Cleanse” program.

Meditation Mania:

Drop-In Studios: From The Den and Unplug in LA, to MNDFL in NYC, new, unintimidating “just-drop- in-and meditate” studios are making the practice a lunchtime possibility. The new Inscape (NYC)

is the rst “multi-platform meditation brand”, operating classes at its Manhattan studio and with an app like Headspace.

On-demand meditation: At The Benjamin (NYC), as part of their doctor-designed “Rest & Renew” sleep program, you just pick up the phone and select either mindfulness or mantra meditation. Park Hyatt New York just partnered with drop-in studio MNDFL for both in-room meditation and group classes in their vast Spa Nalai.

“Meditation” Goes Plural: You know a market
is in high gear when varietals bloom. At more hospitality brands (like Mandarin Oriental New York) you can bask in beyond-trendy, sound bath meditation – at Solage Calistoga (California) you can take “ oating meditation” classes, with visualization and breathing exercises played out on rafts in the geothermal pool.

Euromonitor recently agged the trend of “mindfulness safaris” rising across Africa – and Seabourn Cruises will launch a eet-wide mindful living program in 2017, born out of a partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil.

Sleep Is “It”:

As Nils Behrens of Lanserhof Group put it at
the Summit: “Sleep is the new black.” The sleep and mental wellness connection is now being communicated everywhere, like at Arianna Hu ngton’s new mental wellness media platform Thrive Global, whose mission is to “end the epidemic of stress and burnout”, and with the main focus on sleep. (First product is “The Phone Bed,” a charging station that puts a family’s devices “to bed” outside their bedrooms.)

Champneys Tring’s (UK) new sleep retreat includes everything from six sleep treatment sessions to sleep massages. Rancho La Puerta (Mexico) provides guests with “sleeping bags”
for mobile phones. And Six Senses Resorts are rolling out a comprehensive program, designed by famous sleep doctor, Michael J. Breus, with rooms

featuring handmade mattresses; organic pillows, sheets and duvets with cooling and breathing zones; circadian lighting and “total blackout.”
Or opt for a Sleep Ambassador who ne-tunes your room for your optimal sleep conditions and reviews your sleep-tracker app data to recommend a healthy new regime.

From Breathing Classes to Bibliotherapy:

More Breath Work: Studies show that breathing controls brain waves that can reduce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, depression and even ADD. Breathing training has been called practical meditation for people who can’t meditate. Andaman (Langkawi Island, Malaysia) has a new detox program where meditation and the yogic art of breathing are the centerpieces. Breath training will even become central to the new “mindful” spa treatments, like “The Happiness Treatment” at Neom Organics (London) with guided meditation and breath work.

Book Therapy: When you consider the surge in unhappiness, one needs to ponder what modern culture has lost, and it’s reading literature. Nearly a quarter of American adults have not read a single book in the last year, and in the UK, less than 1 in 5 bought a novel or a book of stories/ poetry in the last year. It’s a problem, because studies show that reading puts our brains in a trance-like meditative state, and that regular readers have lower stress, depression, and sleep better than people who don’t read.

An excellent New Yorker article (6/2016) on
the subject, ”Can Reading Make You Happier?”, detailed the rise in “bibliotherapy” – or specialists (like the School of Life Clinic, with trained therapists around the world) prescribing expert- chosen literary ction as mental therapy.

The Trippier, The Trendier: One of the most striking things about the wellness landscape today is how practices that would have been seen as “way out there,” or overly mystical, ve years ago, are now the hottest trends. A sign that desperately stressed people are seeking farther and wider for mental wellness.

Shamans are the new life and mind coaches, like at Tierra Santa Healing House (Miami Beach),
a wellness center focused on indigenous South American healing, who’s brought in a high-pro le shaman for its Shaman Puri cation Rituals.

“Conscious” or “lucid” dreaming and dream meditation is rising, to clean out the subconscious and tackle everything from traumatic stress to sleep disorders. Like at Dream Reality Cinema (Beverly Hills) where you lie in zero gravity chairs in what’s essentially a “wellness cinema”, with virtual reality glasses and headphones taking you on a guided “movie” meditation.

Beyond Cannabis – Psychedelics: While
cannabis has been a hot wellness topic for
years, more intense (and also natural, plant- based) psychedelics like ayahuasca and magic mushrooms (psilocybin) are increasingly being used with therapeutic intention to tackle issues from chronic depression to phobias. Don’t expect psychedelics in wellness establishments soon – but it’s notable that it’s the medical establishment that’s leading investigations.

Meditative, Neuroscience-Inspired Workouts:

New tness brands that work the mind AND body are appearing. Like Headstrong (Equinox gyms, NYC, California, Chicago and London) that uses neuroplasticity concepts to underpin a 4-step group workout (Focus, Adapt, Willpower and Reboot), that aids in memory and learning. Or In-Trinity, a brainy concept that melds meditation, yoga, Pilates and martial arts – all performed atop an ergonomic, slanted board – while listening to music that incites meditative brainwaves.


The explosion of meditation apps – from Headspace to Buddhify – have democratized mindfulness, bringing it to anyone with a smartphone. But beyond the mindfulness apps, the new tness trackers will trend “mental.” In David Bosshart’s Summit keynote (called “Data Buddhism”) he outlined the incredibly complex ways that a future of ever-more connected data will change everything: from humans turning increasingly “inward” to an increased use of technology to quantify (not just how many steps you took) but your mental, emotional and spiritual states (in our endless quest for “an ever-better self”). For instance, apps like Spire Mindfulness Tracker (from Stanford University) analyze your stress by monitoring breathing patterns, and pinpoint what in your day stresses you out.


In the past, the wellness world has tread lightly around asserting its role in tackling mental issues. Yes, they have (softly) broadcast that core approaches like meditation, yoga and exercise

(if done regularly) have eye-opening impact. But now, as Dr. Gerry Bodeker argues, they will “stick a ag in the ground”, put the mounting evidence more loudly on their side, and create new mental wellness programs and “paths” that are very, very di erent from what we’ve known as “mental health” approaches in the past – often a big pile of pills.

The world is only going to get more “mental”: more stressful, with more relentless digital and media overload. And wellness retreats, spas and tness studios – and workplaces, governments, schools and hospitals – will necessarily “shift

mental,” putting far more emphasis on (and creating important new approaches for) helping desperate people get less anxious and happier. The traditional medical world will shift, too,
with the World Health Organization recently pronouncing that mental health is one of its
top priorities in the next decade. It’s a powerful opportunity and a moral imperative, and wellness for the mind will be one of the most meaningful, powerful trends for decades to come.

Just as wellness tourism developed alongside of, yet distinct from, medical tourism, look for mental wellness to develop alongside, and distinct from, mental health. The distinction is an important one, and mental wellness will be a new category and culture, with very new paths to emotional wellbeing and happiness.