The Holiday Season is here and in full swing while many of us are finding that our schedules are now filled with parties, dinners, shopping plans, and trips to visit friends and loved ones. Statistics show that the typical holiday weight gain during the 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year is 7 – 15 lbs, while most people spend the rest of the next year trying to work it off. But with all of the excitement and festivals, keeping on track with fitness goals can be very tough. The good news is that it's not impossible, it just requires a bit of strategy and planning ahead. At a loss for what to do? No worries, here are some easy to do tips which you can follow to minimize your holiday weight gain and the holiday stress.
Party Time and Time to Dine – this is where so many of us experience the majority of our drop off during the holiday season because of the countless temptations that are there; the food the desserts and the cocktails are all so enticing how could you possibly resist? If you know what to look for, you'll know how to prepare.
1. First things first, Do not go to the party or dinner hungry. The hungrier you are, the more likely you will over eat and binge on the trips. Have a light snack before you get to the restaurant or party such as a handy of nuts or a piece of fruit. If you're a person who's always on the go, opt to carry foods that travel well such as apples. Clementines are now in season; their diminutive size and ease of peeling make these a great portable item for snacking and with less than 100 calories and 0 fat grams, these fruits will aid in your feeling of "fullness" without compromising your waistline and will also keep you from overdoing it with the hors d'oeurves and appetizers. This brings us to the next point …
2. Be mindful of the hors d'oeuvres. Although seemingly harmless due to their size, many of these treats can add up quickly in calories as they can start at 100 calories each. Try choosing no more than 3 hors d'oeuvres and eat them slowly.
3. Socialize and mingle with other guests. What's talking and mingling got to do with anything? The more engaged you are in conversation, the less likely you are to fill your mouth with food. So those 3 hors d'oeuvres items that were just recommended will now take longer to eat.
4. No hovering allowed! Do NOT camp out at the hors d'oeurves table. When standing next to the food table, the food is right in front of you and within immediate reach, because of that, most people have a tendency to eat out of convenience even though they are not hungry. Move away from the table !!!
5. BYOD: Bring your own dish! If the party is potluck, bring a healthy dish that you will enjoy, this way you know that there's at least something for you to eat without ruining all of your hard work
6. Limit the amount of holiday cocktails. There are so many hidden calories in holiday cocktails especially the sweet, creamy and frothy beverages that are so fun to drink during this time of year. As an example, an 8oz. serving size of Egg Nog without the alcohol is over 400 calories, add in the rum and you're close to 500. Apply the same principle here as with your food. Enjoy in moderation taking your time to drink what's in your glass. Talk with those around you and space out your drinks by drinking water in between cocktails.
7. Portions! Portions! Portions! Do not glob everything onto your plate at once; take smaller amounts of your delights.
8. Eat until you're no longer hungry, not until you're full. This is a BIG DEAL. Many times we eat because the food is there and no matter how many signals our bodies give us to say that we've had enough, we continue to eat. If you are no longer hungry, stop eating! Take it back to the point of socializing, enjoy the conversations around you.
9. Shake Your Groove Thing! When the music starts, get up and move. One of the best ways to burn calories after dinner is to dance so tell the DJ to pump up the volume and then hit the floor. This IS a party right?
Holiday Shopping Tactics: We all have to do it at some point. Although the cyber world has made this holiday activity far easier than what it's been in the past, some of us will still find ourselves having to brave the halls to do our shopping in person. Take this time and use this as an opportunity to work for you rather than against you
10. Do not go shopping hungry! If you know that you're going shopping, plan a light meal prior to going, or carry a snack with you like a healthy snack bar. When hungry, the smells at the food court become very enticing. Foods that you would not normally eat will call out your name.
11. Plan to eat. Instead of hiring the food court, plan to eat at one of the onsite restaurants. Due to their larger and more diverse menu items, many restaurants will offer you healthier food options than the fast food places in the food court. Plan to have lunch prior to shopping or dinner afterwards. This will also help to reduce holiday stress by giving you a chance to relax and decompress after dealing with all of the holiday hustle and bustle.
12. Park far! How long does it take to find a parking spot near the door? How frustrated do you get when you can not find one, or you have found one, but someone else cuts I front of you and steals your spot before you can get in there? Rather than driving around for hours and getting frustrated while searching for that perfect parking spot closest to the entrance, park the car and walk. One way to do it is this, if Macy's is on one end of the mall, park on the opposite end, this will encourage you to walk. 10,000 steps (2 miles) a day is required to maintain heart health, Take advantage of the walking distance and include these extra steps to and from the car in that daily allowance. In addition to the heart health, the other benefit here is that you will significantly limit the amount of stress that you will end during holiday shopping since since you will not be fighting with other shoppers for that ever elusive parking spot near the door.
Commit to being fit! As the old adage goes "fail to plan, plan to fail". The same approach can be taken when considering your fitness goals around the holidays. Many of us know that we have parties to attend, so we plan specifically for those events. We do so by purchasing that perfect LBD (little black dress) with coordinating accessories, we make the necessary appointments with the Manicurist to beautify the hands, the Esthetician for the brow wax, and of course the Hair Stylist for the perfect coiffure to top off the entire ensemble. If there is shopping to be done, we know that it must absolutely be completed by the time you see the intended recipients of your holiday generosity. So how exactly do we plan for holiday fitness? In the same manner that you would a party, shopping or any other "need to do" item. You have to commit to it and commit to getting it done.
13. Schedule workouts in advance. This may require some juggling on your part, workouts that are typically done at lunch or in the evening may have to be shifted to the morning.
14. One on one. If you have the ability to work with a personal trainer, schedule your appointments. This way you have someone waiting on you who will hold you accountable for your attendance. With the cases of many personal trainers, "no shows" are still charged for their sessions. Why waste the money, get in there work it out, and then hit the stores or parties.
15. Work it out in groups. Group Fitness classes offer you the added support system of a group and the energy of others around you. What are your favorite group fitness classes? Make that a priority. Team up with other members in the class and hold each one of you accountable for showing up. Send reminders to one another via Facebook, Twitter or text to help keep you on track. Need a moment to breathe? Now would be a perfect time to include a Yoga or Pilates class in your fitness routine to help you do just that.
16. Commit to YOU! In the same manner that we'll schedule appointments with our stylist, barber, or manicurist and will not break them under any circumstances, schedule YOURSELF in your appointment books and DO NOT BREAK the appointment. Consider your appointment like any other important meeting in your planer and when tempted to break it, ask yourself "Why should anything else be more important than me and my health?"
17. Relax and breathe! Be sure to give yourself get away time to breathe. Depending on your schedule, that get-away could be 5 minutes, an hour, a day or more. Work with what's good for you but be sure to do it. A little breath goes a long way.
The holidays can be a very stressful time, but they do not have to be. Keep things into perspective by remembering why we celebrate the holidays in the first place. We treasure this time because it's a beautiful time to spend with our families and friends. It's about creating memorable moments that we'll treasure for a lifetime. Have fun, enjoy. But as we're celebrating and cherishing moments with others, we must also remember to cherish ourselves. During this holiday season, take the time to remember the importance of your being, commit to your health and wellness and extremely, do not forget to commit to you.