How to avoid gaining weight during the holiday season
My reccomendation’s on how to avoid holiday weight gain. Are visions of sugar plums dancing in your head during this time of year? Does anyone really eat sugar plums? Maybe not, but plenty of other sugary treats and decadent treats seem to lurk at every turn during the holidays. Plentiful snacks, heavy meals and one more refill of your wine at the party can turn the holidays into a month-long smorgasbord. The extra calories add up quickly and leave many of us avoiding our skinny jeans for the entire month of January.
It is totally possible to enjoy your holiday celebrations and also limit the amount of post-party pounds that will follow you into the new year. The most important advice we can give is not to wait until January to get started with an exercise plan. Our most successful clients start their new exercise programs in December and minimize their exposure to weight gain. By January when everyone else starts hitting (and quitting!) the gym, they are already experiencing success and seeing the results- a great way to start the new year and feel the positive results that drive them throughout the rest of the year. Below are other suggestions for minimizing your holiday weight gain:
GET MOVING. Most people avoid outside exercise during the winter months but there are plenty of indoor activities that can help keep your body moving. Take frequent five-minute exercise breaks to sneak your fitness in during the day. For example, spend five minutes going up and down the stairs at work or sprint from your parking spot at the back of the mall lot. Check out a trampoline park, roller skating, or laser tag arena for some fun all-ages activity. Ask others to get involved with you! Instead of the Christmas Eve brunch, challenge your in-laws to participate in a 5k with you. Or maybe do the 5k after brunch and enjoy your French toast.
TREAT YO SELF. Treat yourself to the holiday foods you enjoy the most and savor them. Don’t sit down to a holiday meal and fill up on bread or Aunt Carol’s stuffing that you don’t really like but you eat to avoid hurting her feelings. Instead, fill your plate with proteins, foods high in fiber like fresh vegetables, and spoonfuls of every favorite dish that you look forward to throughout the year.
GET OUT YOUR APRON. When you head out to a gathering ask the host or hostess what you can bring. By making the mac-n-cheese yourself you can sneakily swap the milk, butter, and cheeses for lower-fat versions without sacrificing taste. Grab a tray of crudité or a fruit basket to share with your co-workers and enjoy the praise from everyone else who is trying to avoid holiday bloat. Or simply cut your tray of brownies into smaller portions so everyone can enjoy a small extravagance.
FILL YOUR GLASS. With water. Alcohol contains sneaky calories and contributes to much of the holiday weight gain. Try to limit yourself to one glass or wine or cocktail at your party and save your calories for the bourbon-soaked fruit cake. Drink water before and during your meals- this will fill your stomach and help you avoid overeating. Taking a drink between each bite will also help slow your eating and help combat the effects of any sodium or alcohol bloat you might experience the next day.
PLAN YOUR DAY. Whether you are spending the day at the mall or at a long day of work, it is easy to get stressed and let hunger sneak up on you. Heading to the food court for a cinnamon roll or to the break room to hit the cookie platter is a natural reaction but will provide only a short burst of energy from the sugar followed by a blood sugar dip, leaving you feeling worse than when you were hungry. Instead, pack healthy snacks in your bag or car to munch on when the hunger pains find you. Avoid protein bars that often are filled with hidden sugars- instead pack almonds, cheese, pretzels, or baby carrots.
MIND YOUR P’s. Plates, that is. Grab the salad plate at the buffet instead of the much larger dinner plate. You’ll be more thoughtful about what you choose to pile on and you’ll ultimately consume less. Cocktail parties can also be challenging as you grab a toothpick of this and that- it’s hard to keep track of what you are eating. Find a cocktail plate, put three or four appetizers on it to enjoy and when you are done put the plate down. Enjoy your snacks but move food to the background of your entertainment- instead focus on dancing, laughing, and creating memories with your friends and family.
For many of us, holidays are synonymous with food. Recreating Grandma’s special dish is a way to honor her and making a waffle tower for your kids is a way of making new memories and traditions. Don’t deny yourself the pleasures of the holidays in order to maintain or lose weight for a few weeks. Instead, eat and drink thoughtfully and enjoy your celebrations with exuberance.
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