The holidays are here!! To me, this means a month-long joyfest of giving, twinkling lights, unexpected kindnesses, gleeful kids, Chex mix, daily visits from the UPS driver, holiday cards, and family. And just a few forehead-grabbing “can I really get this all done in time??” moments. But mostly joy
For some, though, the joy of the season can be overshadowed by worries about gaining weight during this festive time. The potential for excessive eating is everywhere – neighborhood parties, office get-togethers, cookie swaps, and classroom parties. There seems to be dishes of candy at every local shop and sweet treats lurking at every turn.
A calorie calamity, if you are trying hard to lose or at least maintain your weight over the holidays.
But that’s not the only challenge, is it? No, no. To make matters worse, your to-do list is much longer than usual. How on earth do you get it all done? Skipping a workout is all too common.
I asked several friends what their best piece of advice would be for staying on track over the holidays. Some of these folks have actually been LOSING weight for the past few months, even through Thanksgiving time! It can be done, and they’ve shared their best stuff with me.
Below is a summary of these tips along with mine. Tried and true. Now it’s up to you
#1 ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE. This was a resounding message from some of my must successful “loser” friends – those who are maintaining their healthy habits and weight loss goals during this time. They repeated over and over – don’t skip meals, keep exercise a daily habit, and be smart about food choices. My friend, Karen, went so far as to say that she sometimes thinks of how many push-ups or hours of spinning it would take to burn off a particular indulgence. That thought motivates her!
The best way to stick to your routine is to MAKE A PLAN, both for food and exercise.
Never Say No to Breakfast: Don’t skip it, no matter how inconvenient it might be. Fitting in an early a.m. boot camp? Pack yourself a quick breakfast to take with you (yogurt, lowfat granola, and frozen berries; natural PB and an apple; unsalted almonds with a handful of whole grain crackers and a banana and don’t forget the WATER).
Exercising on the Run: Got an all day meeting where you know you’ll be sitting on your fanny for a good part of the day? Do your mind and body a favor. First, park your car as far away from your building as possible. Second, get moving during any breaks you have. A walk around the building or even to a far away restroom will do wonders for both your mind and your calorie-burning efforts. And, for goodness sakes, take the stairs NOT the elevator (every day, all day). Where do you think they got the idea for the Stairmaster??
Take-Out Deserves a Time-Out: Look ahead at your week. If there are a couple of crazy days where you know it’s going to be hard to get a decent meal on the table, do not resort to take out. You can do so much better with just a wee bit of planning! Have the ingredients on hand for a couple of quick, healthy suppers you can whip up in under 30 minutes. A few family favorite of ours are the very quick and easy tomato soup with brown rice, quinoa and chicken bowls, chicken sausage and sweet potato frittata,and the shrimp and broccoli stir-fry. You could always go super simple with wilted greens with egg topper. A definite family pleaser is the chicken and red pepper bruschetta. Or get reacquainted with your crockpot for the delish Pineapple Salsa Chicken over Spaghetti Squash or very popular Super Fast Turkey Chili.
#2 TEAM UP WITH OTHER ‘LOSERS’ — I love this idea which I was reminded of by my pal, John, who just a couple of weeks ago embarked on his weight loss journey of 40 pounds by Father’s Day. Joining forces with another person committed to healthy habits is a great way to stay motivated, especially during this season of indulgence. Kym and Karen are a great example of this, as they are taking part in a fitness challenge through our local gym. They blog about their efforts here. They are each other’s cheerleaders, coaches, and gatekeepers. They have even texted pictures of their meals to each other for accountability!
John also says to recruit a “past loser turned winner” to coach you when you need a kick in the butt. BRAVO! What a brilliant idea! I am excited to hear about John’s success over the next several months. He sure has the right idea
#3 MAKE ACCOUNTABILITY A DAILY EFFORT — this is not a time to throw in the towel for a few weeks. Every day is another day to fuel your body, move those muscles, break a sweat, and work those healthy habits. My pal, Mike, has lost 25 pounds in the last 6 months and has no intention of letting the holidays derail his good efforts. He uses a Nike fuel band, which tracks his activity over the course of the day and compares it to his goal.
But, not everybody can afford $300 arm candy that tells you to move more. Here are some free/low cost ideas:
–> Track your fruit/vegetable intake. Shoot for 7 servings a day.
–> Get a cheap pedometer and track your steps. 10,000/day to start!
–> Keep a food diary. An honest one. Trust me, you are NOT going to want to write down “10 Oreo truffles”
–> Take advantage of online resources that help you track your daily diet like the MyPyramid SuperTracker or My Fitness Pal
#4 EVERYTHING IN MODERATION, INCLUDING MODERATION — those wise words from the indisputable Julia Child are ones I hold close to my heart. Managing your health is an enormous responsibility, and angst-ridden if you take it TOO seriously. For some folks, the constant mantra of “deny, deny, deny” of favorite foods can lead to a terrible rebellion, overindulgence, and a subsequent loss of motivation to get back on track.
So, be sure to indulge a little here and there. The trick is to avoid that slippery slope and think “oh, well, I’ve blown it now — might as well forget it and start over in January.” Have you been dying for mashed potatoes and gravy? Please, have them alongside a plate full of veggies and lean protein. Is your red-light food cheese and crackers? Serve yourself up a small portion and enjoy every single morsel. Have you deserted desserts but are dying for a slice of Aunt Nancy’s cappuccino cheesecake? You heard me. Enjoy it. Then, leave the table and the sweets behind.
So, there you have it. Tips from real people trying to stay healthy through the holidays. I would love to hear more ideas so please, leave a comment for everyone to see! And I’ll be thinking of you all as I snack on my fave holiday treat, Chex Mix
HAVE A HEALTHY WEEK!