The season of eating is here. If you have been trying to lose a few pounds, or trying not gain back what you’ve already lost, this time of year can be a real challenge.
From carry-in dinners at work, to holiday parties, and long shopping days where your only option is food-court fare, at this time of year the focus is on eating. The good news is there is a way to enjoy the holidays without greeting the New Year with five or six extra pounds to lose.
By implementing these basic strategies you can breeze through the holiday season without going up a pant size.
1. Set A Goal – Millions of Americans gain a couple of pounds over the holidays. While a weight gain of two, three or even five pounds doesn’t seem like a big deal, the problem is many don’t lose it after the holidays which means the pounds stay with them throughout the next year. And the next.
Over the course of several years these extra pounds become a real problem and lead to health risks. Research by the National Center for Biotechnology has determined that holiday weight gain may be an important contributor to the rising prevalence of obesity.
Even if a weight gain of a few pounds won’t put you in the ‘at risk’ category, you don’t need to strategize so that you you ring in the New Year at the same weight. Step one is to set a goal to maintain, not gain weight this holiday season. Write your goal weight down and keep it in a visible place.
2. Weigh-In Each Week – I’m not a big fan of weekly weigh-ins except in this situation where you can pretty much count on gaining weight if you don’t keep a close eye on it.
Schedule a time each week to weigh in. To be consistent, make sure you weigh in on the same day of the week, at the same time of day, on the same scale. Track your weight by writing it down in a note book or on an index card.
3. Create A Weekly Game Plan – On Sunday evening or Monday morning look at your calendar for the upcoming week so you can plan ahead for parties, office food fests, or shopping blitzes that provide too many – or too few – food choices.
Each year at work I offer an annual maintain, don’t gain holiday program and ask employees what their biggest challenges are going to be for the upcoming week. One employee told me that this week is her husband’s company party, her birthday and her son’s birthday.
My response: What’s your plan? We talked through how she was going to navigate all of these special events by exercising portion control, drinking more water, walking more, and filling up on low-calorie fruits and vegetables.
If you take a look at what you’re up against, you’ll be better prepared to meet the challenge.
4. Use Holiday Make-Over Recipes – Delicious and special holiday foods don’t have to be loaded with calories, sodium, and fat. I’ve tried many make-over recipes that I find I like more than the original.
There are some excellent resources for healthy holiday recipes and they are no more than a mouse click away. Two of my favorites are:
- Skinny Kitchen.com – Skinny Kitchen has tons of healthy recipes that do not sacrifice flavor at all. It also has a section dedicated to the holidays.
- Live Better America – Live Better specializes in make-over favorites like green bean casserole and stuffing. There are so many recipes to choose from here, you’ll need to get started early selecting which ones you want to try.
Several months ago I wrote an article that highlighted the top ten websites for healthy recipes. You will find tons of holiday recipes at any and all of these. Check out the article here: Top Ten Websites for Healthy Recipes.
5. Keep Moving – I know this one seems like a no brainer, but it is harder to find time for physical activity during the holidays. You may find you don’t have an hour every day to go to the gym, or out for a walk or run. But you do have time to take a couple of walking breaks every day, and squeeze in two or three 10 minute workouts during the week.
Any physical activity you can get in will help keep those extras pounds at bay. Dust off the pedometer, put it on and set a goal to walk 10,000 steps everyday even if you have to walk in place at your desk at home or at work. Little things add up.
6. Have Realistic Expectations – Your life isn’t a page from Pinterest. At least mine isn’t. All of the beautiful and glamorous images we’re inundated with from web sites and television commercials make us yearn for the picture perfect holiday. This quest for perfection can set you up for a stressful holiday season and the side effects of stress are over eating and over drinking.
Find at least one thing to be grateful for each day. If you do find yourself wishing your life could replicate of one of the top Pinterest boards, get out of there and opt for web sites that will keep your sense of humor in tact but won’t leave you feeling like an epic fail.
Remember that although we call the time from Halloween to New Years Day ‘the holidays’ it really isn’t one big event. It is a series of mini-events that come close enough together that they seem they like one. If you separate them out and have a strategy in place to deal with them one by one you’ll get the best results.
What tips do you have for staying healthy this holiday season? Be Social! Share!