“It’s the holidays don’t worry about what you eat! Just enjoy yourself!”
Does this sound familiar? You spend all year living your healthy lifestyle and when it comes to the holiday season you may be hearing this from your family and friends. Or is this something you say to yourself only to find you’ve gained 10 pounds come the new year? The holiday season is upon us which comes with plenty of cookies, cakes, candies and delicious dishes that will not only fill your belly, but fill out your pants as well! Between the myriad of parties and gatherings, in addition to a stressed schedule and trying to fit in last minute shopping and cooking, sometimes getting to the gym and staying on track with the healthy lifestyle you have created for yourself is easier said than done. So how can you maintain your weight this holiday season to avoid that dreadful day come early January when you get on the scale to discover you have undone all that you have work so hard for all year round? Here are my tips to maintain not only your weight but also your sanity over the next few months.\
Don’t stress, have a plan!
Planning your weeks can help you keep on track. Plan what you will do each day to make sure you can stick to your normal healthy lifestyle while completing your shopping and making it to all the festivities. Meal planning falls perfectly in this category. Pick one day during the week you can go to the grocery store and meal prep. Having your meals pre-planned and ready to go will prevent you from falling into the trap of not having enough time during the week to cook dinner so you stop for fast food instead. Meal prepping will ensure you have no excuses to not stick to your healthy lifestyle. Need help meal planning? Check on my Meal Plans to help you get started!
In addition to keeping the pounds off, exercise can help relieve stress especially during the stressful holiday season. If you are an active person already- keep yourself motivated to continue your regimen by signing up for a 5K. Turkey Trots are popular all over the country as well as Santa Dash’s and Jingle Bell Runs. Don’t like running- find an activity you enjoy doing and make a commitment to stick to it. If you aren’t already active, now is the time to start. Even doing small activities like taking a walk after dinner with your family to look at the festive lights and decorations can start you off on the right foot. Just remember to include your physical activity into your planning regimen to make sure it gets done!
I’ve already stressed to make a plan but what good is a plan if you don’t stick to it? Something as simple as keeping a food journal can be the trick to keep you on track. To do this write down everything you eat and drink day to day. Use this to look for patterns of where you might be falling off track and aim to improve any pitfalls you may find. Don’t think this will work for you? Find a friend or family member to help you out. Someone to go to the gym with or to knock that cookie out of your hand when you’ve lost your willpower.
Create a healthy competition!
Are you the competitive type? Sometimes a little friendly competition is just the thing to kick us into gear. Get a group of friends to start a “Maintain Don’t Gain” competition through the holiday season. Raise the stakes with a pay in to increase motivation. Need help starting a friendly competition? Contact me to help you get started with one of my weight loss parties!
Start over at every meal and snack- Your diet does not start on Monday it starts right now!
You’ve done good all week long and caved in at the office holiday party on a Friday. It’s over right? All the work you’ve done up until this point is down the drain. Might as well not worry about it the rest of the weekend and eat what you want. Forget exercise what’s the point after what you ate right? WRONG! If you fall down you get back up again right? You don’t just lay there and get walked over all weekend until Monday! Start over at every meal and snack. So you indulged at the holiday party, so you skipped your work out one day. You start right over again at the next meal or next exercise session. Continuing the unhealthy habits until Monday will not help you keep that holiday pooch off! So when you see yourself slipping, catch yourself and start making better choices!
Don’t save your calories!
We have all done it before. We know we are going to indulge during Thanksgiving dinner so we don’t eat all day long. We are saving our calories for that one meal. Big mistake! When you deprive your body of the nutrients it needs all day to do its job, your body will think that you are starving it and try to hold on to its fat stores. So instead of burning calories all day, you’re not reaching your maximum caloric burning potential! In addition to this, by the time it’s time to eat, your ravished, you fill your plate with as much food as it can hold and you go to town. This practice will cause you to consume double the number of calories you would have if you would have eaten normal meals and snacks leading up to the big meal. You won’t go into it as starving as you were and therefore you won’t pig out when it comes time for that meal.
Seek out the healthier options!
You are invited to a party and you know there is going to be massive amounts of food. Survey the buffet before you fill up your plate and consider what the healthier options are. Stay away from things with a lot of added sugar and unhealthy fats and look for the options that are high in protein, natural complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. This could include turkey without the skin, salads, nuts, vegetable dishes and fruit for dessert. Afraid you may not have any healthy options? Bring a healthy dish to share! You may be surprised in how many people will appreciate a healthy option being available and how many people have the same goal in mind to maintain their weight during the holiday season.
Practice Mindful Eating
“EVERYONE- EVERY SINGLE ONE of us- eats how much we eat largely because of what’s around us. We overeat not because of hunger but because of family and friends, package and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distraction and distances, cupboards and containers. The list is almost endless as it’s invisible.” Brian Wansink, PhD states in his book Mindless Eating.
Mindful eating is the practice of being aware of what you are consuming in the moment you are consuming it. We live in a society of distractions. They are everywhere! And we tend to eat amongst those distractions. Whether it’s our own thoughts distracting us, the television or the environment we are in, being mindful of what we eat can become very difficult. Ask yourself this, have you ever sat down in front of the television with a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream only to come to find it has quickly disappeared! You ate the entire container! This is a prime example of not eating mindfully. Research has shown that practicing mindful eating can decrease the amount of food we consume and improve our health in the long run. Before beginning to eat, take a moment to assess yourself. How are you feeling? Are you hungry, bored, sad, emotional? Now is the time to figure out if you physiologically need food or if you just want food. Once you have determined that you are hungry, make sure you are not eating on the go or standing up out of a container. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl, sit down without any distractions and eat your meal. Chew your food thoroughly and put your utensils down between every bite.
How can you apply mindful eating at a holiday party? Stay away from the appetizer table. It has been shown that the closer in proximity you are to food, the more you will eat. Makes sense, right? If you are standing right next to the appetizer table, it’s easy to just reach for a few more bites. Place food on your plate and don’t go back for more! If there are two different plate sizes, opt for the smaller one. Research shows that the bigger your plates are the more you will consume. Don’t eat standing up. Find a table and chair and sit down and enjoy your food. Make sure you eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed! Life isn’t about living to eat, but instead you must eat to live!
Finally, Embrace the season!
It is no secret that the holiday season is centered around food. Desserts everywhere you turn, cookie exchanges and parties filled with tasty treats. The key is to try not to stress out about it. Enjoy the holidays, the time with your friends and family and the celebrations. Don’t restrict yourself so much that you don’t enjoy this special time but keep your goals in mind and remember that food is a short-term pleasure. In the end, you will not remember that Thanksgiving or Christmas 2016 was the most memorable year because you ate everything you wanted but you will remember it for the precious moments spent with your friends and family and the memories you made. Happy Holidays to all!