Like most people, I’ve always had a hard time eating right and staying active when the holiday season rolls around. Between the parties, decorating, shopping, baking with the kiddos, and all those other irresistible holiday treats and cocktails, it can be really difficult to stay on track. Getting started…darn near impossible!
Or, is it?
Don’t worry! I’m not going to suggest you skip out on any of those things. What I AM suggesting is that with just a little bit of planning, you can avoid gaining that dreaded “Holiday 15” – you know. It’s like a “Freshman 15”, only we’re older now, so instead of 12 months, it only takes 2 to pack on that extra 15 pounds.
I know. I know. And, I totally agree! It’s NOT fair, but don’t fret. It’s still entirely possible to enjoy the holidays without coming out on the other side looking like you’re 4 months pregnant, when in reality, the only “bun” you’ve got in the oven is a King’s Hawaiian.
Follow these 4 simple tips to avoid holiday weight gain and start the New Year off right!
- Set goals – It’s hard to get somewhere if you don’t decide exactly where you want to go. So before the holiday craziness sets in, take a few minutes and think about how you want this holiday season to go. Do you want to lose weight? Avoid weight gain? Just keep from going crazy? Whatever your goal(s) is, WRITE IT DOWN and make sure you are making SMART goals.
- Make a plan – Once you’ve written down your goals, figure out how you are going to achieve them. My game plan for the holidays is to eat as I would normally would – clean, watch my portions, don’t eat things I hadn’t planned on eating, but guess what…I PLAN on eating and drinking whatever I want at parties and family gatherings – which probably makes some health food nuts cringe, but here’s my reasoning: I like eating healthy and taking care of my body. What I don’t like is feeling like I’m a slave to some program or diet because when I do, my rebellious side comes out, and I go nuts and abandon my healthy lifestyle altogether. Instead, I CHOOSE to allow myself to indulge for special occasions. Notice I said SPECIAL occasions. That doesn’t mean I eat whatever crosses my path for all of November + December! This is key, and let me give you an example of why: If you have a steak and potatoes, the steak will spend 8-12 hours in your stomach trying to digest, using up energy, and causing your organs to work overtime. However, if you replace the potatoes with a large salad (not iceburg lettuce, though – it has pretty much zero nutrients. Try romaine or better yet, spinach or kale) your body is getting more of the nutrients it needs and is able to break down the steak more quickly (5-6 hours instead of 8-12), so your body is spending less energy breaking down food and putting less stress on your organs. Point is: choosing indulgences wisely can greatly reduce weight gain, bloating, and strain on your organs. So be smart and make a plan!
- Get moving – Dedicate 30 minutes to exercise at least 3-4 times each week. The holidays can be a stressful time, and as hard as it can be to get yourself moving, exercise can greatly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Go for a walk or run, choose an at home program to commit to, get a mini trampoline and jump for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, do yoga before bedtime. Whatever it is, just get moving!
- Stay hydrated – Dehydration can cause headaches, migraines, fatigue, sluggishness, and have a negative effect on mood. The list goes on and on, but you get the point. And surprisingly, feeling thirsty is often the last symptom of dehydration, so if you find yourself feeling tired, groggy, or emotionally drained, drink a big glass of water and notice how you feel afterwards. You should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces everyday, so if you weigh 150 lbs, you should be drinking at least 75 oz each day. It’s recommended you drink 8 oz as soon as you wake up, 8 oz. 30 minutes before each meal, and spread the rest throughout the day. I like to squeeze lemon in my water in the morning or when I’m feeling sleepy. I like half a lemon per 8 oz of water, but do what you like. Perks me up better than coffee – I know, I know. I was doubtful too, but just trust me on this one and at least, give it a shot. You don’t want to end up looking like my basil do you?
So that’s it! Four simple steps and you can enjoy the holiday season guilt free. Check back tomorrow for my detailed plan of action.
Need some encouragement and accountability to keep you motivated and on the right track throughout the holiday season? My Jumpstart on the New Year Challenge Group might be just the thing you are looking for. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details. Use “New Year’s Jumpstart” as the subject.