It starts on Halloween and doesn't stop until New Years...the demise of our healthy diet and lifestyle. Every year we go into the holidays with good intentions, yet we come out with an extra 10 pounds. And what's worse, some serious doubts to whether or not we will ever get the weight off and keep it off.
Well, doubt no more my friends...I have come up with your Holiday Plan of Attack - a plan that will have you holding steady through the holidays and have you ready for serious weight loss in the New Year. Look, very few of us can actually lose weight during the holidays, BUT if you go in fighting, you can certainly keep from gaining...and who knows, maybe lose a little?
First off...ask yourself...are you willing to do the work? It will take some planning, and WILLPOWER to make this work but you can do it. Now, you need to tell yourself that you can do it. When you throw in the towel on the entire holiday season, eat every finger food, casserole and dessert you can get your hands on, while kidding yourself thinking "I'll just diet come the new year"...you are setting yourself up for failure.
The healthy and thin people don't do it this way. They don't eat everything in sight and make up for it later. They plan ahead, budget their calories, exercise religiously throughout the season, yet they enjoy the holidays just as anyone else...they just go about it smarter!
So how do you get in on this secret healthy holiday lifestyle? Here are 10 simple steps that will work for anyone:
- PLAN! Print out or use a pocket size calendar from now through Jan 1. Write in all parties and events immediately as you know about them. Also, write in planned shopping days or family functions...down to your kid's sports or music practices and programs. Now, pencil in 5 times each week when you can exercise. Yes, I said 5 (at least). So, if you know you have a party on a certain evening, plan to exercise that morning before work instead.
When you don't plan your workouts, the busy season will get the best of you and exercise will be the first thing you cut out. Remember, all this exercise is THE KEY to burning off the excess fat and calories you will most certainly be taking in. Just think about how many extra candy dishes, baked goods, food gifts, etc. that floats around. You are bound to have a nibble (or a feast) here and there so you need the extra calorie burn...FOR SURE!
- Clean House! If you have a party, get rid of the non-healthy foods ASAP! Restock your kitchen by throwing out ALL the seasonal treats, chips, sweets or other high calorie/ empty foods right after the party (or simply send EVERYTHING home with someone else). That's right, throw them out! If the "bad" food is not there you won't be tempted to eat it! Ok, if you feel really guilty about throwing it away just take it to work and leave it in the kitchen or break room...it'll be gone in minutes!
- Don't go to that party hungry! Have a half of a turkey sandwich, spoonful of natural peanut butter or handful of nuts or maybe a piece of fruit before that party, especially the late one's. You'll be much less likely to overeat and do some serious damage.
- Don't stuff yourself! If you are at a holiday dinner and don't want to overindulge I have a fool proof way of keeping yourself from overeating. And there is NO rule that says you have to eat everything on your plate. Try this trick...shake lots of salt all over your food when you find yourself starting to feel the slightest bit full. It will appear you are still joining in on the fun but will keep you from continuing to eat when you are already full and satisfied.
- Choose Wisely. Look, I'm not going to tell you to not eat all your favorite holiday foods. What I will say is portion control! Have a little of your favorites but NOT a lot. Here are a few food choice tips: skip the skin on the turkey and go for breast only, watch those casseroles and lean heavier on vegetables that are au natural, watch the high fat gravies, limit alcohol and drink lots of water!
- Be the "healthy" lone ranger. Be the one who brings a healthy fruit platter, a lower fat and calorie version of pumpkin pie (yes, it does exist), a nice healthy pumpkin or ginger bread, a yummy salad or that favorite broccoli salad using low fat versions of mayo or substituting yogurt. My point, there are healthy ways to make those holiday favorites...you just need to give them a try. Many times no one will know the difference.
- Slow down. Chew each bite well, set your fork down, take your time and give your brain time to tell you when you're full. Party and social eating is what I call "mindless" eating. You know....you're talking, eating, talking and eating more and more and more. Keep tabs on how much you are eating by getting yourself one plate of food, making the best choices possible, with a few small portions or bites of the yummy sinful stuff (it is the holidays ya know) and then that's all folks. No seconds. Period.
- Don't go shopping without healthy snacks. Going hours without eating will guarantee overeating when you finally do eat. Take a piece of fruit, a baggie with a dried fruit and nut mix, a protein bar or some sort of purse sized snack for munching on while shopping. It will keep your energy up and keep you from grabbing a giant pretzel (drizzled in chocolate I'm sure) or a Cinnabon Roll instead...Yikes!
- Take charge at restaurants. Think ahead and plan to go to places where you are sure you can order something healthful, especially when doing all that holiday shopping. Take the lead and pick where you eat so you know there are healthy choices available. Order sauces, topping and dressings on the side and put half of your meal in a "To Go" box first thing, that way you are sure not to overeat.
- Don't beat yourself up. So you totally blew your diet at lunch, get back on ship and have a light healthy dinner and hit the gym to burn a few extra calories. Don't use that one bad meal as a reason to give up on the whole day, or even worse the whole week. These are the little mental battles we MUST recognize and not let get the best of us. The absolute worst thing you can do is throw in the towel and give into the holidays. Believe me...it will make your job come the first of the year a true battle.