With Thanksgiving just one week away, waistlines everywhere are in fear of the calories, fat and sugar that are in store for them over the next few months. We are about to be in full holiday mode, and it's important to be fully prepared, so we can avoid the seemingly inevitable weight gain that follows end of the year celebrations. Just because the holidays are coming, does not mean we have to give up on all of our healthy habits that we have been working so hard to stick to throughout the year. Check out these tips to help you stay on track with your healthy lifestyle. I've incorporated tips on food, drink, exercise and mindset, which I believe all work hand-in-hand to maintain a healthy weight.
Food and Drinks
- Don't arrive to a party on an empty stomach. Sometimes we think if we bank our calories during the day, we can enjoy a lot more calories later on at a party. By saving up calories, we usually end up consuming a lot more in one meal than if we just ate regularly throughout the day. Being ravenously hungry risks binge eating on high fat foods. Try eating healthy, moderate portions throughout the day of high carb (complex carb), low fat foods, that way when you get to the party that night, you won't be eating everything in sight.
- Start off your meal with healthy, filling foods. Assess the dishes at the party you're attending and try to find some healthy dishes that contain complex carbohydrates and fiber. Look for dishes with vegetables, beans or healthy grains like quinoa and avoid dishes with heavy, fatty sauces. Try to fill up on these lighter dishes before indulging in your higher calorie favorites. You'll end up consuming a lot less calories and fat if you are already getting full by the time you start on the richer dishes.
- Enjoy some water before the meal starts. Many times, signs of thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so before you sit down to a holiday meal, try downing an 8-16 ounce glass of water. By filling up on water, you'll only eat as much as you're truly hungry for.
- Choose your poison. Try to decide between indulging in alcohol or dessert, which can both by very high calorie parts of holiday meals. If you decide to go with dessert, try sipping on sparkling water with a lime wedge in it, that way you don't feel left out and will have something to keep your hands occupied while mixing and mingling through the party. If you decide to skip dessert, but can't go a meal without having something sweet, try having a bowl of fruit, which has natural sugars that should subside your cravings.
- Stick to your favorite dishes. Sometimes when attending a holiday dinner, there is an overwhelming amount of options of different dishes to try. Before loading up your plate, carefully assess the food being served and ask yourself what your really want to eat, and what dishes you are just getting because they are there. Try to stick to your favorite dishes and skip the ones you can live without. By limiting the number of items on your plate, you will naturally consume less without feeling deprived.
- Don't let the holidays be your excuse to skip a workout. We all know how busy the holidays can get, but don't continuously find excuses to not hit the gym for your daily workout. There are times when getting to the gym is truly impossible, but try not to make it a habit of skipping regularly.
- Remember that even a short workout is better than no workout at all. Sometimes we tell ourselves that its pointless to go to the gym unless we can get our full routine in, but this is the wrong mindset to have. Try to remind yourself that even a short workout is better than no workout at all, and by hitting the gym, you are doing something that is going to promote other healthy choices throughout your day. When you only have 15-30 minutes to workout, make the most of your time and do some high intensity cardio and weight training that involves using multiple muscle groups.
- Recruit a buddy with a similar mindset and goals. Having a workout partner can be a huge motivation, especially during the holiday season when we can find so many reasons to skip the gym. By having a workout buddy, it gives us a sense of obligation to make it to every scheduled meeting. Try to find a partner that has a similar set of goals to you, that way you are both on the same page with wanting to stay healthy throughout the holidays and continue your healthy lifestyle.
- Fit in small workouts throughout your normal day. There are many opportunities to move our body during a normal day, as long as a little effort is made. Instead of circling around the crowded mall parking lot, in search of the best space available, head straight to the back of the lot to park. Not only will you save time waiting for an available space, but you will also burn extra calories while power walking to the entrance. Another thing to try is avoiding escalators and elevators and try taking the stairs whenever possible. Adding simple changes to your normal activities can help you burn a lot more calories throughout the day, which is especially important if you are short on time for a normal gym workout.
- Try isometrics during the day. Isometric exercises are ones that involve repeatedly tightening and releasing muscles. These are simple to do during normal activities such as typing at your desk at work, showering, brushing your teeth, driving, or even doing housework. There are many great websites that can help you with ideas for different exercises to work your entire body.
- Keep stress levels low with yoga. Starting off your morning with a session of yoga can be a great way to keep stress levels low throughout the day. Yoga helps to clear your mind and forget about any stressful situations or activities that you might have to deal with later in the day. Yoga gives one an overall feeling of wellness, which will give you more energy to encounter all of the craziness that may come your way during the holidays.
- Don't stress too much about slipping on your diet. Try to remember that it's more important to live a healthy lifestyle than to adhere to a diet. When we live a healthy lifestyle throughout all 12 months of the year, it's much easier to maintain a healthy weight, and eliminates the stress of trying to lose weight for holiday parties.
- Keep grounded during the holiday by reminding yourself of the true meaning of what you are celebrating. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in gift giving, baking treats, and attending parties, that we forget what holidays are really about. When you are feeling overwhelmed about how things are turning out, try to remind yourself of what is really important.
- Take time to relax and still do things you enjoy. Sometimes we can forget about ourselves during the holidays when all we are thinking about are the things we want to do for others. Remember that only when we take care of ourselves can we truly give our best to others. Don't skip on the normal things that you enjoy, just because it's the holiday season. Schedule in time to get your nails done, enjoy a facial, take a bubble bath, or whatever other activities that you like to normally do throughout the year. The world won't come to a stop if you take an hour out of the day to pamper yourself.
- Enjoy yourself! Remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun and relaxing! Try to figure out what it is that is stressing you out, and if possible, eliminate it. If it's too much for you to attend three holiday parties in one weekend, then don't! Try to find the things that help you to truly enjoy your time and do those things. You want to look back at this time with fond memories, not feelings of stress and anxiety.
What tricks do you use to keep your weight in check during the holiday season? Share with me in the comments below!