It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is upon us, Christmas and New Years are right around the corner. Holiday festivities, parties, gatherings, and lots of processed, unhealthy food awaits. You’ve been working hard all summer to get the physique you’ve been longing for. Maybe you’re healthy lifestyle just started. What steps do you need to take to insure a positive outcome? First and foremost, I would set the bar low. Instead of continuing to try and lose weight and reduce body fat, I would suggest going for maintenance. There are too many temptations out there to overcome. Telling yourself that you will remain at or near a certain number until the end of the year will bode well for your confidence and allow you to pick things back up where you left off starting in January. Doing otherwise, could set you up failure and derail your motivation. Take these tips and begin your holiday journey:
Get/Stay Moving – If you are consistently going to the gym 3-4 times a week then continue doing so. If you have to miss because of a party, schedule another day/time. If you are not currently exercising, get the blood flowing and make the commitment. Start small, be consistent. And it doesn’t have to be structured exercise. Maybe do some extra cleaning around the house. Take a long walk with a friend. weather permitting!
Limit Alcohol to a minimum – For many people, the holidays are a time for drinking and toasting. The expectation is enjoy a few extra cocktails. This is not the case if you are trying to maintain. Have a little fun but take into consideration all the hard work you put in the previous 10 months of the year. And alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns.
Wine 4 oz glass: 62 – 160 calories
1.5 oz liquor shot: 115 – 200 calories
Gin and tonic: 280 calories
Frozen creamy drink: 800 calories
12 oz can of beer: 140-200 calories
Alcohol + carbonated drink: 200 calories/12 oz
Eggnog + jigger of rum: 343 + 97 calories
Seltzer with a splash of lime: 0 calories
Fruits & Veggies – Aim for seven-a-day. Making sure you eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to help fill-up your stomach but not your calorie level. When compared to other snack foods like chips, crackers and cookies, gram for gram, fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and tons more nutrients.
Keep the Serving dishes off the table – This has been shown to reduce caloric intake. Think about it, if the food is right in front of you, it is much easier to grab and eat. But, if you have to get up and walk into another room to grab your serving, you may think twice about it.
Control the risk for temptation – Controlling even the slightest chance of coming in contact with ‘tempting’ foods is one way to effectively reduce your intake. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the many ones you can. For example, do you keep candy or cookies at your desk or workspace? Do you frequent the dining room table or pantry where you store all your holiday goodies? Make a mental note of tempting places and try to control them. For example, make a pact with co-workers that goodies will be kept solely in the break room, not at the front desk or in various offices. Mentally plan out how you will avoid tempting situations.
Limit to one-a-day – While you can’t control every situation, you can control how much food goes into your mouth. If you are constantly bombarded with holiday parties and displays of desserts or candies you can still effectively help prevent overeating and weight gain. One way is the one-a-day method. Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising. If you aren’t confronted with holiday foods that day, just skip your one-a-day – but don’t compensate and double-up on your serving the next day.
Eat Slow and Take Breaks – Studies have shown that people who scarf down their food eat up to 52% more before they feel full than those who chew small bites for at least 9 seconds. They are also over three times more likely to be overweight according to a study in the British Medical Journal. That’s because it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’ve had enough so you get way more into your stomach. So, chew your food a bit longer. People who chew each bite 50 times usually feel full and stop eating after consuming less food. Take lots of breaks and eat mindfully. Instead of living to eat, eat to live. Be present. Put down your utensils or crescent roll or that drumstick between bites. As you slowly chew your food, savor the flavor. Breathe deeply and count to 20. Take a sip of your beverage. If you’re eating with others, talk to them. You’ll get full and fully satisfied eating much less food.
Get More Sleep – Sleep is a major factor in weight control. This is the time when all of your systems regulate, especially that of your hormones. Inadequate sleep wreaks havoc to your hunger hormones. You will not have enough discipline and willpower to overcome these hormones, trust me. People who sleep too little, 5 hours or less each night, gain nearly 2½ times as much abdominal fat as those who sleep 7-8 hours. This needs to be consistent as well. Naps in the middle of the day don’t count. Don’t take this step too lightly!