Football season is back, but for many of us (especially men), this means we are likely to gain some unwanted weight. One poll found that people reported gaining anywhere from TEN to even TWENTY pounds by the end of the season. I know the Holiday season is in there, but the game’s associated festivities do not help your cause.
There goes any progress you made towards your weight goal when you had the motivation to look good in a swimsuit for pool parties over the summer…
The question is, how can you enjoy football season this Fall (one of my personal favorite times of year) without the associated “falling off the wagon” as the reasons and opportunities to party and drink become endless?
Let’s dive into the five reasons this season isn’t the greatest for your waistline along with simple and actionable tips I have found to be helpful myself that have still allowed me to have fun without sacrificing the fit of my favorite jeans.
1. Too much beer
Let’s start with the most obvious reason—beer. Now, I do enjoy a nice, cold beer while watching football, but beer (especially craft) is full of empty calories, tends to be consumed in large quantities, and more frequently during football season. Tailgates and parties take us back to our not too-far-off college days and tempt us to overdo it. Not to mention, football is on four nights a week (five if you still follow your high school team which is big in the city I live in). That’s four (or five) acceptable “reasons to drink” in our society.
How can you get past this very tempting reason? Pick just one day on which you’ll choose to have more than two drinks. Ask yourself, when is the “beer worth the chug (ideally sip, but I won’t be naïve)?” That is, when is it you will be in a setting with the most family and/or friends in which alcohol will enhance an already enjoyable experience? This helps you become more selective of when you choose to drink and satisfies our desire as humans to form strong relationships.
Avoid using alcohol to enhance a less pleasurable experience in order to give yourself the illusion of enjoying it, or to cope with your team’s loss.
I know there will always be some weeks throughout the season in which you consider it “worth the chug” more than once. Do your best to be mindful and limit yourself to one or two drinks maximum. Speaking of mindful drinking, The Drinker’s Manifesto is a great read from Better Drinking Culture if you are looking to improve your relationship with alcohol and learn to drink better. More to come on that topic down the road.
2. Food-specifically the tailgate kind
Where there is football, there is food. Unfortunately for your waistline, it is not usually the healthiest of food either. Typical snacks associated with tailgating and watch parties tend to be highly processed, loaded with simple carbohydrates and thus easily over-consumed. We all know once our inhibitions and judgement are impacted by alcohol, those chips and dip look even more appetizing and harder to avoid.
Give these simple tips a try this season help or avoid temptation altogether
- Avoid store-bought and packaged foods. Stick with food you know people poured time and effort into making if you are left with no choice but to eat (and you should if you’ll be drinking). Use the vegetable tray that otherwise goes untouched to eat whatever dip you’d like, even if it set out with crackers/bread.
- Bring sliced peppers, carrot chips, or celery with a side of guacamole or hummus. These snacks are very filling and will help prevent you from over-consuming.
- Migrate away from the snack table with a plate to socialize with friends.
- You’ve pre-gamed before right? Well, pre-feed! Meaning, eat something satisfying at home before you head down that you know will satisfy your hunger if you don’t anticipate many healthy options. Otherwise, take a protein bar of your choice.
3. Does Your Team Stress You Out?
I live in Cincinnati, so it’s an emphatic YES. Disappointing and let down seasons are in our blood. That’s probably why I have become so adapted to dealing with the stress of sports. Stressing out over a game leads to hunger and mindless eating. What makes this worse, is that stress signals the storage of fat more easily with the hormone cortisol. Even worse is when your body is getting these signals all the time from other aspects of your life (imagine constantly running from a tiger), it becomes almost impossible to lose any fat.
Watching these games is meant to be an enjoyable experience with family and friends—one that helps alleviate your stress.
Now, I know not everyone will agree with me, but once you graduate college is when you have to stop associating your happiness with the outcome of a game. Rather, turn your focus towards gratitude—having the time and money to go, friends or family to be with, and whatever else you can think of in those moments. Trust me, my teams have made me an expert at this. It makes a HUGE difference.
4. Loss of sleep
Four nights a week plus late starts can take a big toll on your sleep throughout the season. I think it goes without saying that getting adequate sleep is one of the most important things you can focus on for a healthy body weight (and health overall).
Prioritize your sleep and only stay up later than normal to watch the games you truly care about watching–not the outcome
I can tell you with almost absolute certainty that staying up late just to watch a player you have in fantasy football or a game you bet on will have no impact on the outcome. We have the power of the Internet right at our fingertips, so you can catch the highlights of any game with the unbelievable outcome or play. They aren’t worth the one to two hours of sleep you will miss out on.
One other important thing to note, block the blue light from the television with some blue light blocking glasses after dinner. Blue light delays the release of melatonin in your body, which is very important for getting into a deep sleep. The longer it takes your body to reach deep sleep, the more groggy you will feel waking up the next day.
5. Football makes you sedentary
Last, but certainly, not least is just how sedentary we tend to be watching games. It’s easy to find yourself posted up all day at your favorite bar watching the games. You might also find yourself on your couch all day Saturday and Sunday just watching games (especially if you are forced to by your decisions from the night before).
Sitting for too long activates fat storage in your body. Combine this with the four reasons above, and you have the perfect recipe for adding on fat.
Implement these simple tricks this season to avoid this disastrous combination this season.
- Make it a point to keep the snacks (remember to make it ones that are filling!) away from your seat, so you must to make a conscious effort to eat during commercial breaks. Thus, preventing the mindless “my hand just keeps making its way to the bowl which then happens to head towards my mouth” syndrome.
- Do a social lap around the stadium at halftime if you are physically at the game.
- Park further away from the stadium if you didn’t tailgate and it’s not sub-zero temperatures.
- Go to the gym and watch games you want to see but don’t have anything to do for while walking on a treadmill or riding the stationary bike.
- Plans to tailgate or watch games with friends? Get to the gym beforehand and do a HIIT workout. These can boost your baseline metabolism for several days.
Football season is a great time of the year, but is it worth it to come out on the other side having lost any progress you made on losing the fat you put on in college from the combination of the five things above? Use this season to put an end to the vicious cycle that leaves you struggling to find the motivation to start the process all over again (and having to buy a new pair of jeans for the holidays).
Strive to thrive,
P.S. If you found this helpful or informative, I’d appreciate it if you would take a second to share on social media!
I’ve taken the best lifestyle/dieting principles and habits I have learned through many years of experience that have helped me simplify and sustain fat loss while still enjoying life and created a five-day challenge. It will give you great insight into how I live my life each day – striving to thrive.
It’s called the FAST Five Formula. It will help boost your motivation, save you time (and money!) and learn those basic lifestyle principles.
Don’t be your own worst enemy anymore like I was for many years. Give a shot. It just may change your life.