by Cade Thomas
There are some very quick ways to kill your parents and loved ones with a broken heart. The easiest one for a bodybuilder or physique competitor, and sadly most common, is to show up to a holiday dinner with a tupperware of prepared shitty diet food. While they slave in the kitchen to prepare deliciously plump turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and the rest of the seamlessly endless barrage of dietary delight, your rectangular transparent case of cold fish and green veggies just waltzed in the door tucked under your arm (or even worse, in a gym bag or cooler) to come say “F@%$ you”.
We are all obsessive. It’s what makes us bodybuilders in the first place. In fact, the more obsessive we are, the more likely we are to be any good at this damn thing. But sometimes our obsessive tendencies are hard to turn off, and they can trickle down into parts of our life that simply don’t need to be tainted by the bug of bodybuilding. It’s easy to get lost in our own point of view. To us, bodybuilding is everything and we see what we are doing as achieving a higher standard in all facets of daily life in comparison to our more “average” counterparts. They don’t meal prep because they are too lazy, and they eat whatever they want because they lack willpower. It’s easy to get your back up against the wall when it comes to diet. The reason the holidays pose such a unique threat to our habits is that for most of the year, people ARE projecting their insecurities about themselves onto you when they ask why you have to eat “clean” all the time.
“It won’t hurt you just this once”. We’ve all heard that shit. “Live a little!”, they proclaim, as if you hate every waking moment of your existance because you deny your tastebuds the pleasure of that dessert. Dining out at restaurants with friends or having dinner with relatives can be a painful experience at the best of times, and when you toss in the revolving door of comments about your dietary choices, it can quickly escalate to arguments or at the least have you contemplating faking a sudden illness and running for the door. All of this makes it easy for us to have our backs against the wall. Hell, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t gone into a family function with my guard up, playing possible scenarios in my head where my choices are called into question and visualizing how I can express myself without simply being rude (although some of us resort to that).
Most humans bond over food. It’s hard for us who see it simply as a fuel source (with the exception of our gluttonous cheat meals) to remember all the time, but it’s also how many people choose to show their love for another. I personally hate the idea that I have to eat something that someone made simply out of respect, as that is really just to making their ego feel okay and has nothing to do with you enjoying food anymore. But the fact is most people have pure intentions when it comes to stuffing you with edible hospitality and they don’t see how it could be viewed otherwise. This is mostly true for older generations but isn’t strictly an age thing.
Whether you agree with it or not, those family members are spending hours in the kitchen on that day doing something they FEEL is pure and comes from a place of caring. You can’t blame the soldiers just because you disagree with the war, they are doing what they feel is right (Did I seriously just compare christmas food to war?).
If you want to stay at home or don’t have a large event to to attend, then do so. But if you are going to show up at a gathering to make other people happy, don’t be passive aggressive and do it half-assed and remind everyone how hardcore you are with your pre-made food. If you are dragging your sorry ass over to a relative’s house for the purpose of being a team player, do it right and without baggage.
There are ways you can lessen the damage and control some of the aftermath as well, if you are truly concerned for your precious physique. We all know you have weekly cheat meals, so perhaps you could just skip a week or two leading up to the holidays. It’s very likely that you will feel guilted into trimming some fat after the festivities, so there’s no need to obsess about it going into the fact. But if you would prefer to jump start your new year getting in better shape and not just undoing any damage you may have caused from the previous week, a few weeks of strict dieting throughout the month of December can create the environment where the surplus of calories might do you some good, or at the very least just put you back to where you started.
Or you could just shut the #@$& up and eat some pie :)