‘Tis the season for calorie-packed meals, goodies, candy and treats. How does one avoid holiday weight gain and stay slim for the festivities? It’s a catch-22! Most of us want to enjoy the holiday meals — but we also want to look good for parties and get-togethers with friends and family.
The best strategy is simply to maintain your current weight and stay healthy. Save any plans for losing weight for a New Year’s resolution and focus on keeping off additional pounds that have a tendency to creep up on us during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Most people gain between 1-5 pounds during the Holiday season.
It starts with Halloween candy..then the feast at Thanksgiving…Holiday dishes…more drinking…more eating…..So if you get back on track starting the new year, you could have that weight of by February or March. But who wants to go through all that, especially if you had to lose weight in the 1st place! Follow these tips during the holidays and you won’t have an issue when it comes to the New Year!
1. Maintain Your Exercise Routine
Plan to modify your workout routine. Often people will sacrifice exercise to keep up with all of the hectic demands of the holiday season. Rather than cutting out exercise, try cutting back. Even if you do a quick 20-minute walk as opposed to your one-hour hike, you’re doing your body good. If you normally workout four days a week then skip one or two days but don’t quit completely. Plan to work out at least twice a week. Or shorten the length of your workouts by just hitting the major exercises. Exercising is probably the single most important thing you can do during the holidays so fit it into your schedule!
Plan to exercise the day of a holiday event. If you know you’re going to splurge at a party, try getting a small workout in on the day of your occasion. Burning extra calories will keep those dangerous seasonal snacks from ending up on your hips and thighs. You’ll feel better, look great and enjoy the party more.
2. Choose Wisely
Pick and choose which holiday events you wish to celebrate/eat at. The more parties you attend the more likely you will be to overindulge. Again, if you look at the holiday as a two-month period of time to eat, drink and be merry, then you’re in for weight gain. Instead, maintain your health and select only certain occasions to enjoy the holiday festivities and then go back to the program the next day. Do this and I think you’ll actually enjoy yourself more.
3. The Power of Planning
Most of the foods at Holiday parties are snacks and deserts loaded with saturated fat and sugar. If you work all day and then go straight to a party then of course you are going to pig out on all those foods that will make you fat. Before you head off to a holiday party, take the time to eat a healthy snack. Go for energy boosting combos like fresh fruit and Greek yogurt or cheese, or even trail mix of almonds, walnuts, seeds, and dried fruit. You’ll be less likely to indulge in the high-calorie foods available at the food table if you’re not starving. Never, never starve the day of the party, big gatherings or meals. You will only throw your metabolism off and set yourself up for a caloric crash. Instead, once you get your day started with breakfast, continue lean protein and veggies during the day. It will do wonders for keeping your appetite and metabolism under control.
4. Be Mindful
Stay away from the food table. If you are carrying on a conversation with another person, go and sit down somewhere instead of hovering over the buffet. This will prevent you from unconsciously nibbling on extra food. Avoid mindless snacking. This will help you avoid eating without thinking and engage in great conversation.
5. Be Firm
Don’t be pressured into eating something you are trying to avoid. No need to explain why. Don’t open the door to sabotaging voices that chime, “It’s the holidays — start your diet in January.” Just say, “no thanks. I don’t care for any.” Say it enough and you’ll start believing it too. Put your goals first and don’t let others undermine your efforts. Decide before the party what you will and will not allow yourself to eat. With this in mind, decisions will be much easier to make and may not require a conscious when the time comes — because you’ve already resolved the issue with yourself.
6. Go Easy on the Booze
Limit alcohol. If you decide to partake in drinking during the holidays, be sure to never drink on an empty stomach. Avoid drinking excesses as well. Not only is alcohol loaded with calories, it also has a tendency to loosen inhibitions and increase appetite, which may encourage you to overeat. Try to incorporate a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage. This will help to replace the water lost from your body due to drinking, and prevent you from drinking too much. Or- better yet go sober! A seltzer water with a splash of cranberry juice can be a delightful replacement! Bring along your favorite low-calorie diet drink and you won’t have to offset those extra calories the next day.
7. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drink water with your food, not punch, soda, eggnog or alcohol. Save the beverages for later and set limits. 12 ounces of cool, clear water will hydrate your over-tired, over-shopped muscles and release the unwanted fluids being retained from over-partying. It will also prevent fatigue from the demands of the season. Coffee, tea and eggnog just don’t do it!
8. Give Yourself Permission to Indulge a Little
If you are overcome by visions of sugarplums and decide to have a sweet treat have it at the end of your meal rather than having it as your meal or your snack. This allows the balanced meal to temper the insulin surge, keeping blood sugars more stable and keeping you out of the “more you have, the more you want” syndrome. When you fix your plate, do so sparingly but don’t rob yourself of your favorite treat. Before going to the buffet table, decide on what desert you feel you must have. If it’s there, take one. If you don’t see it, do NOT replace it with something less desirable. If you do, you’ll probably consume the same or more calories with less satisfaction. It’s just not worth it.
11. Know What Really Counts
Remember that it’s not the big parties that are a problem. It’s the day-to-day eating. Avoid the “I’ve Blown It Now!” syndrome — one lapse needn’t become a relapse and don’t let it become a collapse! Look at each meal as an event. Don’t wrap it all into one bad day or one unhealthy weekend or worst of all, an entire holiday season. Get right back on track with the next meal or snack. Your body will stabilize quickly, and you’ll be thanking yourself the next day.
12. Recharge and Refresh
In your hectic schedule of gift buying, gift making and gift wrapping, carve out one hour (or longer!) for your own gift. Make it an hour in which you’ll have nothing to do. Plan ahead on when the hour will be, but don’t plan what you’ll do. Otherwise it will become one more thing on your “to-do” list. If this sounds impossible, grab what you can: 10 or 15 minutes of peace can give you enough recharge to rise up to the challenges of the season. Retreat to your bedroom or office, close the door, unplug the phone, and do something that “feels good” -sit quietly, meditate, stretch, breathe deeply, take a bath, light a candle, say a prayer, or just reflect on the joy of the season.