Delicious and guilty temptations are always abundant during the holiday season. Parties, family dinners, cookie exchanges, and gourmet gifts all contribute to our season of celebrations, not to mention our waistlines. It’s almost impossible not to gain a few extra pounds; but if you’re tired of making the annual resolution to lose the extra weight gained, then this holiday season keep unwanted pounds at bay by adopting a few tried and true, simple and healthy strategies.
Be Realistic. Consult with your physician to determine what weight range is healthy for you and not necessarily an exact weight or what might be portrayed in the media.
“Go based off of the way your clothes feel,” suggests Patty Wilson, Body, Mind and Soul Transformational Coach. “Never weigh yourself as this sets you up for failure. But if measuring status is important, “take progress pictures or have someone do it for you so that you can compare images weekly.” Bone mass, muscle tone, age, and height are all contributing factors to what is appropriate and healthy for any individual. Being content with your weight range is imperative to maintaining a stress-free lifestyle, as well as a healthy holiday season.
Plan Ahead. Preparing ahead for the holidays will allow you to plan healthy meals for in between celebrations and to carve out extra time for workouts.
“Get on a healthy eating and exercise schedule now so that you are ahead of the game,” suggests Patty. She recommends starting early so that you are already in a fitness regimen and have placed a priority on your health. To help you stick to your plan, Patty says “start taking classes now and find a buddy that you can be held accountable by or hire a trainer or coach.”
If you are already exercising, increase the number of days or time to give yourself a little wiggle room to ward off the effects of the added caloric intake. Weight training and yoga are great ways to enhance your regime, and when done correctly will burn numerous calories while advancing muscle tone.
Keep Active. Don’t let the holidays become an excuse to relax and avoid getting plenty of exercise. Staying active, even in winter, will encourage your body to keep in sync with its healthy rhythm, despite the addition of high caloric and sugar-filled foods. Try new activities that involve the kids while they are off from school, or perhaps increase your active chores such as shoveling snow and walking the dog when the weather permits.
“Even doing a quick five minute workout at home like squats, pushups, abdominal work, jumping jacks, or a quick 10-20 minute yoga or stretch routine gets you started,” says Patty. “Exercising increases endorphins that make you feel good and increase your metabolism which will help burn calories.”
Make Smart Choices. “Consider what you are going to eat at events,” suggests Peggy Mikkola, registered dietician and nutritional counselor. “Doing so makes you think twice about binging and impulse eating.” When indulging in treats at parties, dinners, and celebrations, fill the majority of your plate with healthy options such as vegetable crudités, fruits, and even low calorie cheeses. Steer clear of hidden calories in mixed drinks, beer, candies, and confections. Instead, opt for healthier options that still pack a punch like oatmeal raisin cookies, white wines spritzed with sparkling water, and low fat proteins like fish and white meat. Peggy also suggest curbing cravings by eating slower and away from further temptations. “Take a plate and put only what you know you can eat on it, then move away from the table and sit down where you can thoroughly enjoy the food.”
“Never go anywhere hungry,” reminds Patty. “make sure that you eat your healthy foods before you go anywhere so that you are not starving and setting yourself up for failure when you’re around food and drinks.
Be Proactive. Take health into your own hands this season by bringing nutritious dishes to parties, joining a support and goal setting group, or buying gifts that involve activities like skis, skates, gym memberships, or trips to a spa.
“If you are the one hosting the party, then maybe plan an activity so the focus isn’t just on eating,” advises Peggy. And if the temptations are just going to be too big to fight, consider leaving them behind. Taking a trip to a tropical location is a great family gift that comes with a lifetime of memories, not to mention a place where swimsuits are the season’s best fashion.
Be Gentle. Most importantly, give yourself some grace.
“Don’t put it in your mind and do not program your mind to think that this is a challenging time for you,” says Patty. “By pre-programming your mind for this thought, you are already setting yourself up for failure.” She suggests being gentle. It is the holidays after all. “You are human,” she reminds. “No one is perfect and at the end of the day life is too short to live stressing about food.”