It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Except for your waistline?! If you’re working for weight loss you don’t have to sacrifice progress for holiday joy! Avoid those unwanted holiday pounds with 5 simple tips.
1. Skip 2nd helpings
Over-eating is the biggest culprit for weight gain during the holidays. We often over-indulge at meals because there is so much good food we don’t get to eat often, so we dive in for a second plate. Over the 5+ weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s you’ll have various parties and gatherings to enjoy so spread it out. Remember your portion size and food quality goal then choose the foods you’ll put onto your plate accordingly. Go ahead and have the mashed potatoes, a piece of cornbread and the stuffing if you’d like. Just remember your ideal portions. Check out this video to learn more about your ideal caloric intake. My normal complex carbohydrate portion for meals is about 150 calories (or 1/2 cup) so I’ll portion down each of my faves to get the best of both worlds.
Select your food. Chew slowly. Drink water between bites. Before you know it, you’ll feel full!
2. Avoid excessive liquid calories
We’ve all heard about the “empty calories” in alcohol but we also enjoy the holiday cocktails so again, it’s about awareness. Note that it says “excessive”. Let’s not pretend you will (or should!) avoid alcohol all together. Be selective and intentional about your alcohol consumption and you can enjoy the libations, not feel guilty, and keep the lampshade on the lamp and not your head.
Eggnog is made with (loads of alcohols!), cream, milk, and sugar making it calorically loaded! Is the eggnog mustache and buzz worth all those calories?
Alcohol consumption also leads to increased appetite and we all know we aren’t inclined to make the best choices when even slightly inebriated. So, plan ahead! When you arrive at the party and plan to have a drink or two, and plan what you’ll have right away. Then, set a number of drinks you’ll allow yourself to have. We all hated our parents telling us “no more” but they did it for our own good. Why is it that we have a hard time parenting ourselves? Once again, discipline can be a superpower and will take you much farther than fleeting motivation.
Stick to clear liquors and choose sparkling water or club soda mixers. Avoid sugar-filled sodas and juices. Pour dry wines like cabernet, merlot, chardonnay. Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage.
3. Need to exercise
Make and keep exercise as a priority during the holidays (and all days!) to avoid gaining weight. No, you can not out-exercise a poor diet, but the benefits of exercise don’t take holidays off. We all know how awful it feels when we over-eat, right? And many of us exercise because we love it it makes us feel. That alone is a bow-wrapped reason to exercise every day during the holidays. Over-eating and the over consumption of nutrient lacking foods leaves us feeling bloated, sluggish, cognitively slower and even cranky. Getting a great workout in the morning can help set the tone for your day. You won’t want to not feel great and will be less likely to risk losing the immediate benefits of your workout by scarfing cookies all day.
Traveling during the holidays? No viable excuse there. You can literally exercise anywhere! Where there is a will, there is a way.
Grab the kids (little and big), a football, and a coat and go outside and play. Far too often play is extracted from our lives as we get older, but the holidays have a way of brining out the child in us so let that kid run!
4. Tame temptations
This may seem like a no-brainer but until you’re fully committed you run the risk needing to ask Santa for a bigger belt! You have to decide that you you are in control of what you put into your mouth but don’t make it harder than it already is. If the dessert table is the festive version of the company water cooler then find a new place to congregate.
I call my kitchen the heart of my home because I cook with love and love to cook but that also means my guests visit the kitchen often during parties. Now, nothing fills my heart more
than my kitchen full of people laughing, eating, and sharing time together but that also means we are all in finger distance of the food-galore! If you’re a grazer, beware of the all-you-can-eat-counter-service that is likely to happen.
Open bar?! That doesn’t mean calorie-free bar! Do you have a vision of sugar plums dancing in your head? (Wait, does anyone actually eat that?) Trade in your thoughts for thoughts that will better serve you. Think about how great you felt over the summer when you were eating fresh vegetables and lean meats. You earn your results – good or bad.
5. Appreciate the treats!
Weight loss does not require full deprivation, folks. According to Webster, a treat is an event of item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure. Treat your treats with respect and you can have a healthy relationship with them. If you’re over-eating on thumbprint cookies and 5 kinds of bread to the point you feel sick or guilty, you won’t enjoy it. This turns a treat into a punishment and will sabotage not only your ability to stay on track nutritionally but to have a healthy relationship with food. Don’t just allow yourself to have desserts and carb-laden foods, actually plan for it! Anticipate how delicious that piece of pie will be and how lovely it will be to sip champagne while enjoying the warmth of the fireplace watching Elf (but not Die Hard. That’s not a Christmas movie!). Taste the flavor of your food and drink. Think about each sip and bite to fully appreciate the treat that it is.
And on that same note, be present with the people you are with. Take photos to remember moments not to post. Share what you are grateful for not wishing you had. Your health is blessing and not an obligation. From our PFT family to yours, happy holidays and go ahead…eat dessert first!