Here’s a statistic that boggles my mind: 51% of annual weight gain occurs during the six-week holiday season among the entire U.S. population. Do you realize what that means? People eat WAY too much during the holiday season!! How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh it’s OK, it’s the holidays!” while they were stuffing their face with something not-so healthy? That’s like stepping in front of a bus and saying, “Oh it’s OK, its the holidays!” Just because it’s the “holidays” doesn’t mean it’s a good choice! LOL
Sure, we might only get Grandma’s pumpkin pie once a year and indulging a bit during this time of year is something that we ALL do. But it’s easy to let things spiral out of control if you don’t have a game plan. Having a plan before you tackle the next few weeks is going to be critical both for your health and your waistline! Here’s some of the best tips that I gathered (adapted a bit from Muscle and Fitness magazine) for how to stay in shape over the holidays. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hit the ground running in January instead of starting from scratch. Wouldn’t you?
1. Be picky about the foods you indulge in. For example, maybe the only time you get to eat Mom’s fudge is at Christmas. And that’s all you can have. Skip the chocolate-chip cookies–you can have them all year round (in moderation, of course). It’s OK to indulge in holiday favorites as long as you’re discriminating. You can also save hundreds of calories by skimping on the whipped cream and forgoing the pie crust. And pass on the unhealthy “add-ons.” The turkey breast is healthier than the gravy on top, so don’t pour all those extra calories on a perfectly lean piece of meat. Sweet potatoes are better than mashed potatoes with gravy, but don’t load with up butter.
2. Never skip meals. Before a big holiday party eat all your usual meals for the day, which keeps you from over-consuming at the event. Many people make the mistake of starving themselves beforehand, but this will only make you hungrier and more likely to overeat.
3. Bring healthy food to work with you. This way, if there’s a pie in the employee lounge, you’ve brought a turkey sandwich and some almonds or vegetables that are healthy alternatives to the temptations in your environment.
4. Avoid the munchies and don’t be the incessant eater at the party. This is more will than skill. A large part of knowing when to ‘drop the slop’ is mental. Be mindfully connected to your body and decide if your appetite is emotionally driven, socially related or realistic hunger. When surrounded by others who continuously cram their mouths with food, don’t zombie out and join them. It’s too easy to consume thousands of calories that way.
5. Never underestimate the power of water. When your body is thirsty, it’ll trigger false hunger signals because food contains a significant amount of water. Alcohol consumption around the holidays can also add as many (if not more) inches to your waistline as Mom’s fudge or Grandma’s gravy. At your next festive gathering, choose your beverage wisely. Stay away from the butter rum and spiked egg nog and give your hands something to do by carrying around a warm cup of coffee or tea to sip on. This doubles as entertainment for your hands to prevent bored fingers from picking up snacks and is also a great appetite suppressant.
6. Go for a holiday run. Many cities have races during the holidays which can burn tons of calories and help offset what you might that day or week. You can also go for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re also prone to falling of the calorie wagon during this time of year try setting a goal in the future. Sometimes if you’re in the middle of a workout program or training for a race it’s just the motivation you need to stay focused and keep your diet in check.
7. Workout before a big holiday party. Most people eat better right after working out. Physically you feel great so you don’t want to put anything bad into your body. And mentally you don’t want to ruin that awesome workout by eating the wrong things.
8. Avoid the snowball effect. If you mess up one day get back on track the next. Don’t let one slip-up slide into a relapse of continual overeating–that’s when you really pack on the pounds. Keep a healthy perspective and don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Just do your best and don’t throw all caution to the wind. Keep a watchful eye on your intake so your eating doesn’t get out of hand.
9. Rehearse your lines. People will push food on you at this time of year, so think ahead about how you’re going to politely decline. It may be that you have to say something like, “I’m too full, Mom. Why don’t you cut me a piece of pie and I’ll take it home with me.” And then when you get home you can put it in the garbage.
10. Keep a holiday record and your weight in check from Thanksgiving to New Year by recording what you eat and how much you exercise. Studies show that keeping tabs on yourself makes weight control easier, especially during the holiday season when your routine may be out of whack.
For additional info be sure to check out the article 8 Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Pounds in this week’s Beachbody newsletter.