The holiday season is in full swing!
For most of us that means shopping, baking, happy hours, and parties of all sorts – cocktail parties, dinner parties, work parties, Pollyanna parties (does anyone still do this?)
By now your December weekends, and even some weekdays, are probably booked solid.
In many ways, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
But I also know from working with thousands of people in health an fitness for more than a decade, that this is also one of the most dreaded and guilt-ridden times of the years when it come to our waistline.
You know why!
It’s all that extra socializing, dining out, cocktail toasts, baking, hosting, office treats, cooking larger and richer meals than normal, and even the extra stress and lack of sleep that comes with it all.
The holiday season provides the perfect recipe for weight gain!
And it happens often.
But it doesn’t have to happen!
You CAN still participate in all the fun the season has to offer, WITHOUT blowing your belt buckle or fitness progress.
Here’s 5 Fun Ways to Stay on Track
1. Have Dessert
If you are someone who likes to have a little sweet treat, and will find it absolutely torturous to skip holiday goodies, than don’t!There’s nothing wrong with a little sweet treat. But do it smartly, by having your dessert earlier in the day, preferably during lunch time (between 11 and 2) when digestion is strongest and you have time throughout the day to burn it off. Or after a hard workout, when your body can utilize the sugar calories for muscle repair.
THE IDEAL DESSERT SCENARIO combines exercise and lunch:
Exercise before lunch, then have your dessert with lunch or immediately after your workout. You could possibly work this into a holiday luncheon or brunch, or a good excuse to enjoy one of the goodies your coworkers keep bringing into work.Hosting a party, or going to a party? Why not make your own desserts? This way you can control the sugar and fat content in the desserts you are eating.There are a number of ways to cut calories from traditional desserts (for example, by using less sugar and butter, or substituting with Stevia) and plenty of low calorie/low-carb/low-fat options you can find on the internet. You can even find a few good recipes right here on my food blog.
1. Eat Throughout the Day
The worst thing you can do is “bank your calories” all day. While the idea of not eating all day so you can eat as much as you want at tonight’s party seems like a good idea, it really isn’t. Not only are you playing a rushing roulette with your blood sugar levels (especially if you are not used to fasting), you are also setting yourself up to be STARVING when you do finally sit down to eat. And you know what that means, right? It means you will most likely end up pigging out! While it may not seem like a big deal to go overboard on one meal, there are several reasons you can actually end up more worse off than if you had just eaten normally all day.
For one, when you eat after depriving yourself all day you are much more likely to make poor food choices, which means you’ll reach for sugary greasy foods to help elevate your blood sugar which has been dropping all day from fasting.And two, you’re digestive system will likely suffer over the next day or two, especially if you experience digestion issues to begin with. Here’s why.
Your body can only digest so much food (especially fat) at one time.
When you overeat at a meal, not only is your body not able to absorb all the nutrients, but it also isn’t able to break down all the calories. And guess what that means? It sits in your stomach like a pile of rotting trash, causing bloating, gas, indigestion, and weight gain.
1. Simplify (but Intensify) Your Workout
Finding it difficult to stick to your regular gym routine in the midst of the holiday happy hours? No problem! This is the perfect time to cut back workout time and turn up your workout intensity! All you need is 15 minutes per day to scorch calories and keep your metabolism humming along. The key is INTENSITY.
Here’s a couple examples:
– Jumping Rope for 15 minutes can burn up to 190 calories! And also help you shape those arms, shoulders, and calves for your favorite cocktail dress! Try my jump rope workout.
– Just 4-12 minutes of this Tabata workout will have you sweating out those Christmas cookies!
**BONUS: Try to do your workouts early in the morning when testosterone levels are at their highest. The serotonin boost you’ll get from morning exercise will also help you stick to healthier habits the rest of the day.
Already exercising at a high intensity level? Wake up 20 minutes earlier each day and get in a moderate to brisk walk before breakfast. Or after dinner. You can burn up to an extra 400 calories per week, or more, without much effort at all.
1. Weigh yourself
Every 3 days. While the scale certainly isn’t the only indicator of our fitness level or health, it is at least a way to keep an eye on our indulgences. So many times clients have been in utter shock at how much they actually weighed when the finally stepped on the scale after several weeks or months. You don’t need to fear the scale. Your weight doesn’t make your bad or good. It’s just a way to keep an eye on perhaps how much extra sodium or sugar you’ve been consuming, and a gentle reminder when you’ve perhaps had one too many cocktails or cookies at the last holiday party.
Always weigh your self the same time every day – early in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Never weigh yourself after a meal. It will only make you panic.
1. Eat More Foods…that act as Detoxifiers and Natural Diuretics
Eat them throughout the day, before you go out to socialize, and especially load up on them the day after an evening eating out. If you have a party at your host, send the leftovers home with guests!
– Warm lemon water
– Peppermint tea, horsetail tea, chamomile tea (they also reduce gas)
– Fresh ginger
– Dandelion greens
– Cranberry juice – fresh made with only cranberries is best
By the way, you can prevent (or at least greatly reduce) any holiday hangovers by following the steps from my Healthy Hangover guide.