Aaahhhh, the holidays…the scents of fresh pine and baked goods fill your home; everywhere are twinkling lights and culinary delights…but every to die for dessert and festive cocktail represents temptation, overindulgence, and missed workouts. The season can be downright frightening for those struggling to lose or maintain weight. While gathering with family and friends is one of the best gifts shared during the holidays, most American families, including my own, gather with a healthy dose of high fat, butter infused, sugar coated, carbo-loaded family favorites. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Grandma’s homemade apple squares. The crust alone calls for 4 sticks of butter! (I am SO not kidding)
It’s hard to say how many pounds the average American gains between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some studies suggest the average weight gain to be as high as 10 pounds while others argue the statistic is closer to a pound. Regardless of the number, most of us would like to enjoy the traditions of the season without the traditional weight gain.
Here are 9 tips to help you enjoy the traditions and treats that make your holiday season special without blowing the progress you’ve made all year.
1. Start your day by pushing play: No matter how many guests you have coming for dinner or how much you have left to do, make time to start your day with exercise. By “pushing play” and doing an exercise video like(any of Beachbody’s programs)you’ll have more energy, decrease your appetite, reduce stress and boost your spirits.
2. Don’t deny yourself: Studies show that those who deny themselves their “favorites” often consume more calories in other food selections and are more likely to “binge” later. Decide in advance what you’ll have and how much you’ll put on your plate, and then stop. Make your calories count. Avoid mindless munching and take time to truly enjoy a small dose of any decadent treat your heart desires.
3. Keep a running total: Estimate your calories as you consume them. Research shows that those who are aware of their calorie consumption eat less and fill up faster. Don’t forget to include those “sneaky” calories consumed when testing and tasting recipes or the handful of nuts you ate while catching up with cousins.
4. Drink water before and after your meal: This rule applies regardless of the day of the year. Water consumption decreases cravings and helps to regulate hunger. Be sure to consume water after your workouts as well.
5. Use a smaller plate: If salad plates are available, use one for your main entree. A smaller surface area will help you become aware of moderate portions of all your favorites.
6. Plan a physical family activity. Start a family tradition of splitting into teams for a “friendly” game of flag football or doing a 5k together. Meet for a morning walk on the beach or take a post-feast stroll through the neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights. (Although in my neighborhood, there’s no sense in walking far because ours will be the best for miles! Honestly, I’m not a competitive person…except when it comes to my Christmas lights. Those Griswold’s ain’t got nuthin’ on the Johnson’s!) Anyway, even if it’s 20 below, you can have a dance party inside with the kids. Be silly, play and laugh with your family. Doing physical activity together strengthens family bonds and builds traditions that can last generations.
7. Give it away: If you’re hosting the festivities, add disposable containers to your shopping list so you can send guests home with ALL of your leftovers. Eliminate a week filled with left over pie, stuffing, gravy and goodies by sending family members home with special care packages. Ok, if you must, save yourself that one piece of cold pumpkin pie for breakfast or fixins for ONE of dad’s traditional turkey, mashed potato, and cranberry sauce sandwiches and send the rest packin’.
8. Throw it away: If you find yourself on the receiving end of a half eaten pecan pie, or a neighborly plate of cookies, graciously accept but once home…toss it! Yes, I said, “TOSS IT!” Which would give you greater long-term happiness, more pie or to fit into your skinny jeans?
9. Get back on track: Remember that the occasional splurge is what diet experts call “moderation”. Go ahead…treat yourself! You deserve it! Remember, a splurge should last a meal or a day at the most. By eating poorly for several days, you set yourself up for a season of weight gain. Plan for and enjoy your favorites then get back on track to your journey of healthy living.
Happy holidays! Enjoy the season and all of the goodness it brings